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Teaching a Cooking Class to 8-12 Year Olds...Ideas?

Hi Everyone!

"Long time, no see". I miss cooking!

Anyway, I've been asked to teach a cooking class to some 8-12 year olds. I'd like recipes that can be completed in about 1 hour (but that are still all from scratch AND delicious). I thought of making Krissywats crackers (love those!!). I'll probably make my Baked Oatmeal too. Any other ideas? TIA :)

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  1. basics like soups, salads, different ways of cooking eggs, hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza, stir fry, pasta or noodles, vegetables.
    I assisted with one class that used the "Everybody Eats ..." series. So they learned how to make rice and dishes that go with rice. Bread. Corn based foods, etc.

    1. Pizza (my 13 y.o. recommends homemade dough...no Pillsbury!), mac n cheese, fruit smoothies, chocolate chip cookies, German oven pancake, lemonade, quesadillas...

      1. Must agree with pizza. Buy dough from Trader Joes to speed up the process. Let them choose the toppings. They will feed themselves for life if they know how to make pizza. Plus they'll actually eat it.

        Kids only like the mac n cheese in a box. The Blue Box. No substitutions.

        Mashed potatoes. They can garnish these any number of ways. They can have mashed potato sundaes. I'd like a kid that could take over mashed potato duty on Thanksgiving one day.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Pate

          Hi Pate,

          I've got my ten and thirteen y.o. daughters with me even as I type, and they feel very strongly that non-boxed mac n cheese is far superior, as well as homemade dough...well, maybe they're picky, BUT it's worthwhile to try the real thing.

          Mashed potatoes are fun, but watch the kids' fingers with the peelers.

          Oh, and this just in from the ten y.o....PASTA!

          1. re: 280 Ninth

            You've got much smarter kids than the ones I hang out with. I have a great mac n' cheese recipe which grown-ups adore and kids won't touch. It doesn't look "right". Works for me because there's more for us big kids.

            Pasta is safe. Picky ones and others can toss on toppings at will. It might not take long enough though. The 10 minute waiting for the water to boil and the 12 minutes waiting for the pasta to cook is an eternity with a bunch of wiggly kids. How about meatballs. Kids like playing with mushy stuff. It'll keep their little hands busy.

            1. re: Pate

              While they're waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, they can work in teams on toppings. They can learn that pasta doesn't have to be covered with something red.

        2. I once taught Brownie Girl Scouts how to make apple fritters from a Gourmet magazine recipe. They were afraid of the hot oil at first, but they loved it, and the results.

          1. I think kids like magic and real stuff. Oh yes! Pizza with real dough...but also show dough makes rolls, etc. And since you cannot do a real dough in that time, at least, do the yeast bubbles in sugar water and stir in flour to show gluten development. Do some serious "grown-up" manners, kids want to know how to act that way! Do tastes....(pick, again, grown up stuff) surprise them! A Kid in a class will taste something h/er Mom swears they would never...in a class of peers!

            1. definitely pizza. Pizza bagels might be a good idea. I cooked a lot when i was young and my parents put me in cooking classes. Pizza bagels are fun and easy for kids to make. You could also do Chicken soup which is very easy also. Any type of pasta dish. Maybe baked ziti? Thats pretty easy to do! Quesadillas, mac and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream sandwiches, nachos. Just some thoughts...

              1. As a favor, I taught a Birthday Party hands-on cooking class for twenty eleven year old girls with three helpers (could have used a fourth & fifth [of gin!]) last year. Phew! We made soft pretzles, green salad, individual pizzas and crepes that the girls filled with their choice of fillings. I also sent home goody bags filled with Brownie "Mix" that I'd made from scratch with instructions for baking and how to make more mix.

                I tackled too many different things for a single session that doubled as a party. The two doughs could have been one class, followed by brownies & crepes. Even with some interesting add-ins, the green salad was a non-starter with this group. Also, I had too many items that needed baking simultaneously.

                Many years ago, I taught cooking classes to fourth graders in a year-long, one-day-a-week session that gave more complete and basic instruction. In that, we tackled different methods of cooking, i.e. braising, roasting, baking, sauteeing, etc. Since I had a lot of help and full use of the school's cafeteria, it was a very different thing from a residential kitchen.

                Kids are no dummies and know when they're being fobbed off with garbage. Mixing water with a boxed mix and using frosting from a can is NOT baking cake - they know better. Give them real skills and they'll soar.

                1. Salad. My guys love the salad spinner. Show them how to wash it in a bowl of water, watch the dirt sink to the bottom. Then they can make the dressing in a jar (measure oil and vinegar in finger widths) shake it up. Then come up with a bunch of toppings. Mix with hands!
                  Who knows, they might even eat it.

                  1. Homemade Raviolis or Tortelini's are great when made with store bought wonton wrappers as the pasta. They can choose the fillings and then they are quick and easy to cook or send home and freeze.

                    I also made biscotti with my daughter. It was great to go through all the steps.....measure, mix and knead the dough, shape into long logs to bake once and then slice the logs to make the individual cookies. Finally we topped them off with melted chocolate. Also a good thing to send home to share with the family which the kids love to do.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MSK

                      I was going to recommend the same thing, ravioli would be really fun.

                    2. Yay!!!! Glad to have you back! I'm going to ask my mom, the teacher, what she thinks would be good and report back. I think anything that would really wow them... like, I didn't know you could make those! The crackers, like you said... probably not many parents actually make crackers. (Or homemade pizza or homemade cookies, for that matter!)

                      1. I taught my brownies how to make monkey bread using canned biscuits, plastic knives, extra supervision when cooking the brown sugar and butter. They had fun rolling the dough in sugar/cinnamon. Into the bundt pan, in the oven ...out all gooey and sticky and they all pulled it apart'

                        1. Salads are good and can incorporate so many ingredients. It doesn't have to be lettuce with cukes and tomatoes. It could have fruit, and cheese and nuts and homemade croutons and salad dressing ingredients can be placed into jars and shaken which some kids might find fun.

                          I saw a great kids recipe where they made fish en papillote. Its so simple really and they can just staple the folded edges of parchment rather then try to make the crimped folds.

                          Breakfast foods like muffins are easy and require few steps and fun are to play around with as far as fillings or streusel toppings etc.
                          Actually quick breads in general might be a good way to go.

                          1. Just read wavers post about the salad, sorry for the repeat!

                            1. I taught a bunch of 4-H kids how to cook years ago. Baked apples were a big hit, especially when the kids went home and made some for their parents.

                              1. Pizza from scratch but with a thin unleavened crust; muffins or pancakes; scambled, poached, fried eggs; glazed pan seared fish fillet (with your help in filleting) finished under the salamander/broiler served with the reduced sauce; ceviche; mashed potato; plain white rice; spinach (using fresh spinach) in a home- kid-made thick, creamy mushroom sauce; mayonnaise done in a blender; teriyaki chicken.

                                Each of these is easy, but not too much so. Each has a bit of magic and produces a different result that should impart a different but life-long useful technique.

                                1. You can make a simple pizza dough that kids can knead. A few people in my area do it for birthday parties (and charge a lot for it, too).


                                  If you have a pasta maker, my kids love making pasta--you just need to find a recipe where it rests for less time. Rolling/cutting the dough out is really fun. While the dough is resting, you can make a spaghetti sauce. Most kids have not had home made pasta and spaghetti sauce.

                                  1. ***I did something real fun with kids at a camp ***- "sushi" with candy and of cousre, the ever so yummy..puppy chow. But, sushi with candy...,I used fruit roll ups as the seaweed. Unroll but keep on the paper, then in the center - rice krispie treat filling for the rice, licorice strips or thick fruit strips (Trader Joes), sour/gummy worms, etc. for the center. Roll up just like you would for sushi rolls. Slice them the same as well. Make the centers colorful! Fun! And kids love the junk food theme. Puppy chow can be found if you google the word.
                                    Something healthy I used to make for my father when I was young - I found in a Betty Crocker cookbook....Bunnies....Canned pear halves open side down on a plate, 2 sliced almond pieces for ears (small end of pear) Cherry half for the nose, raisins for eyes, pretzel sticks for whiskers, and a small scoop of cottage cheese for the fluffy tail. YUM!

                                    Have Fun :) KQ

                                    1. I still remember my mom showing us how to make bread. It was awesome. But you may have to save that particular lesson for when you have more time...

                                      I second the German pancake idea. Anything that puffs up a lot is fun.

                                      1. Make it interesting and fun. Cold peanut noodles with sliced cucumber, red bell pepper and pea pods.

                                        Chinese Corn Soup (2 can chicken broth, 1 can corn soup, ginger and green onion, thicken with a little cornstarch, stir in 2 egg whites)

                                        You can find a variety of kids cooking books at the Library.

                                        1. one of my favorite things growing up was this spaghetti pie that i got from a kids recipe book. it was spaghetti and marinara sauce baked in a casserole with cheese on top. almost like baked ziti, but with spaghetti. might be really fun and is really tasty!

                                          1. We did some for my daughter's friends with homemade pizza that they could actually do by themselves since most of them were allowed to use toaster ovens. I wanted something they could really take away.
                                            We used pocketless pita bread - perfect size for a personal pizza. You can get them at Cosco or Middle-Eastern grocers. They come in whole wheat too.
                                            We made white pizzas with olive oil and cheese.
                                            And pizzas with canned pizza sauce and cheese. For toppings we used chicken from a rotisserie chicken and bits of cooked broccoli which were the kinds of things I figured were likely leftovers they'd find in their own homes. Also showed them it didn't always have to be pepperoni.
                                            Each child went home with a couple of plain pitas and some cheese and a little sauce so they could show their families how they could cook something themselves.

                                            1. Make sure that you are aware of any food allergies that your students may have.

                                              If you have access to a waffle maker, kids love that! I'd be willing to bet that most kids nowadays have never seen a waffle that didn't come out of a box in the freezer.

                                              1. I made a fun dessert this weekend that woudl be fun to make and decorate:

                                                Angel food cake in a jelly roll pan, roll into a tea towell that's sprinkled with conf. sugar until it's cooked, then roll it out and sprinkle with mini choco chips, spread with softened ice cream then roll back up, put back in the freezer. Once frozen, frost the entire thing with store bought frosting (a flavor that compliments the ice cream flavor), then decorate with something else (like crushed peppermints if it's peppermint ice cream) or raspberry's if it's raspberry chip icecream, or crushed pecans if its butter pecan ice cream. We even sprinkled confectionary sugar on dark chocolate frosting, looked pretty. Then slice it to serve.

                                                1. Ooooops, that was supposed to be "roll in towell until cooled" not cooked!!!

                                                  1. You know what would be fun for kids, and easy? Breakfast for dinner. It would go along w/ the baked oatmeal. They could do eggs (even omelettes if you're up for it), bacon in the oven, pancakes/french toast, hash browns. If you had dough premade, they could do cinnamon rolls. They'd learn to shred potatoes, mix, learn to make eggs, and you could have different stations for groups of children and give them different tasks.

                                                    1. As one who teaches/demos cooking to kids regularly, the most helpful tip I can give is the fact "that it is not the destination but the journey" adage. While it is important that you make something they will want to try, the way you will hook them and keep them interested for an hour is in choosing to prepare something that uses very dynamic techniques. The biggest draw when I demo is knife skills, hands down! Blazing through a pound of mushrooms into paper thin slices,while never looking at your hands,is what will bring them to the edge of their seats. I usually do a number of quick items that lead up to a complete entree. This shows them that you can make something really different,simply, and fast, that they could actually do on their own. The other way to keep their rapt attention is to use ingredients that are very unusual to them, and impart a sense of adventure. The interactive component is also very important, especially when you are talking about an hour of their time. Pulling strudel dough is great for this.
                                                      When planning your hour, look at it as if you were watching a cooking show on TV. Keep the boring bits off the screen(have the less dynamic parts predone) and concentrate on the rest.
                                                      Good luck!

                                                      1. whatever you make, it might be nice to do muffins with berries or some add in for dessert also. This allows you to discuss briefly why you don't overstir the batter and also what it means to fold in ingredients. Muffins are so quick and simple to put together and offer good opportunity for teaching in small doses.
                                                        Sounds like so much fun, hope you have a great time.

                                                        1. This would be something fun to do with the kids, perhaps when they are waiting for something to finish baking, you know, keep their little hands busy! Ice Cream in a Baggie: http://www.kidsdomain.com/craft/icecr... I did this with kids when I was a camp counselor and they were amazed that you could get ice cream this way.

                                                          1. Okay, talked to my mom this weekend and she agreed with a lot of the ideas mentioned here, esp. pizza. She also said you could make a basic cookie dough and then have them mix in whatever they wanted to- this would be good for kids that might be allergic to chocolate, or whatever. She also said this bread in a baggie recipe is fun to do with kids: http://www.pfb.com/programs/ag-in-the... Have fun!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                                              I forgot one more thing my mom mentioned- a healthy snack segment.

                                                            2. eOr teams of 4 to make seven layer cookies (or six) with a variety of things for the layers. They could trade them off and each kid gets a half dozen.

                                                              1. Sloppy Joes. Quick & easy to make and fun to eat! My 9 year old son loves to make these with me.

                                                                1. Thanks for the great ideas--I've only *grilled* pizza (dough from the pizzeria). I like the idea of soup, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pasta, ethnic something or other (can you tell not my forte), salad/dressing, knife skills, and macaroni & cheese--I'll have to look at that baggie recipe Katie Nell... Maybe I could also make a simple (still gourmet) chicken dish of some sort--then the kids could cook dinner, and the moms/dads will love me!

                                                                  1. The first thing we were taught to make in 4-H when I was 8 years old was deviled eggs. I still make great eggs to this day :--)

                                                                    1. These are all good suggestions but I cant think of a liability I'd like less than teaching 8-12 year olds "knife skills". Makes me wince to see the lawsuits piled up. Leave that for grandma.

                                                                      1. Pate, No *I* will hold the knives, just a demo. (I won't even let my husband get near my knives!)

                                                                        1. Call me a killjoy, but I think a bunch of vegetable dishes might be a good idea. I HATED vegetables as a kid, but started eating them more when I learned how to make stir-fry. I wish I had started cooking veggies earlier as it may have changed my dietary habits sooner. When my parents simply foisted them upon me, I rebelled and refused all vegetables for many years. If you show them how to prepare broccoli and green beans and carrots according to their tastes, their viewpoint may change.

                                                                          I think a stir fry would be nice and easy. Maybe a dish like roasted green beans. Maybe a salsa. Maybe a casserole like shepherd's pie that incorporates a lot of vegetables.

                                                                          I honestly think that many kids refuse vegetables because they've never had them prepared in an appealing way and it's easy to just open up a bag of chips, a soda or a candybar for that carb jolt. Then again, there is my ex's kid who eats spinach out of the can like a little Popeye, so I may be completely off track. But even he has problems with mushrooms, so...

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Heatherb

                                                                            You are probably right about vegetables. My daughter loves tomatoes because they taste delicious fresh from the garden. At 6 years old, she had them at a restaurant and said "These aren't tomatoes".

                                                                            {This should probably be under "You know you are a Homecooking Chowhound when..." . My 4 year old picked his nose, nibble "it", then said "Mmmm delicious--tastes like mushrooms with red wine!" It was so funny.}

                                                                          2. I like all the ideas mentioned above, esp pizza with homemade dough. What about tacos with stuff that's not from a box or mix? You could do homemade salsa (maybe precut most of the tomatoes and stuff), guacamole, perhaps cook some tortillas. Also, seeing real spices go into taco meat might be fun. The kids could shred (and eat a bit of) the cheese.

                                                                            1. Hey,

                                                                              I also teach cooking to kids with a community based group in Toronto. We actually run a dinner theatre for kids where they learn cooking and improv.

                                                                              I am in the midst of planning our next session and thought we could share some ideas.

                                                                              We normally do a 10ish week session. I find organizing the weeks around a cultural theme or a technique (ie. soup, pizza, etc.) works well.

                                                                              Do you have anything planned out? I would love to hear what you come up with!