|Reviewers Comments: ||Kids in the Kitchen is a fun, interactive curriculum that is bound to get children excited about cooking. And with its extremely well organized lesson plans and accompanying activities, parents and teachers are likely to get pretty excited as well. The curriculum comes packaged with easy to follow instructions on how to organize and assemble a binder to hold all the materials, and a cover, tabbed dividers and spine label are all included. Additional materials to teach the curriculum are listed and include some free resources and others which can be purchased through the University of Missouri Extension. Some of the MyPlate materials listed to be purchased can be substituted with similar materials, obtainable for free from the ChooseMyPlate.gov web site. Basic cooking equipment, inventory, and ingredients are also required and listed at the beginning of the guide (for all the recipes) and on each of the individual recipe handouts.
The curriculum is divided into three sets of lessons, one for kids aged 6 to 9, one for kids aged 10 to 12 and one for kids aged 13 to15. While the material covered in all the lessons are similar, the activities and recipes are tailored to each individual age group. There are seven lessons each for children aged 6 to 9 and 10 to 12 respectively, and eight lessons for kids aged 13 to 15. Each set of lessons also has its own collection of handouts and visual aids. Lessons do not have specific time frames given, but each lesson could be from 1-2 hours depending on the activities and recipes used. The book also includes several appendices, containing equipment use and safety handouts, recipes cards, and a certificate of completion. The completion certificate can be photocopied, personalized and distributed to each child.
In addition to the regular lesson plans, each lesson features an option to KIK It Up! , which is a modified lesson that describes an alternate way to teach the same concepts by spending more time doing physical activity and using a simpler recipe with less time spent on food preparation. These recipes have five or less ingredients and no cooking is required. Physical activity cards, which are available separately from University of Missouri Extension Publications are used to help choose physical activities. Each lesson also includes directions for advance preparation, a list of objectives and core activities, a lesson outline, safety tips, additional activities if there is extra time, and a review of concept learned. Teaching tips at the beginning and throughout the lessons should make it easier for adults with no teaching background or experience to lead the class.
Recipes for each of the lessons are catalogued in an overall outline and in each lesson plan. Many of the recipes are from the Kids a Cookin’, a cooperative project with the Family Nutrition Program at Kansas State University. These videos may be purchased separately through Kansas State University; however, it is not necessary to lead the classes. Ingredients listed for each of the recipes are for children, and can be adjusted accordingly for more or less children. Each recipe card includes ingredients, equipment required, directions, a definition box, a tip from a pictured chef. Recipes do not include nutritional information or preparation time and inconsistently list yield and serving size. The recipes at times seem somewhat cluttered and may be hard to read with many graphics and text boxes. All of them include kid-friendly ingredients, are relatively easy to prepare, and have fun, catchy titles that may get kids interested and excited about preparing them.
A unique aspect of this curriculum is all of the creative activities, games and demonstrations included in addition to the recipes and cooking actions. There are songs and sheet music included, as well as tasting activities, riddles, and situations and scenarios for older children to analyze. Equipment safety and food safety is also gone over extensively, in ways kids will find enjoyable. Even the physical activities are distinct and made pleasurable for kids, many of them named for characters and products (for example, the germ buster, the pyramid pump, and the cereal shrug). “Teacher reference” included throughout the curriculum help educators learn about food, cooking and food safety, as well. The organization and attention to detail when creating this curriculum is clearly evident and makes it shine as an excellent resource to teach cooking and nutrition to children.