Basically everything we cook in the kitchen is an experiment –or potential lesson– in science. Even kitchen “failures”, such as burned or moldy foods, can provide interesting “teachable moments”, if you are in that mindset. Food preparation is also an invaluable practical life skill for nurturing the bodies and souls of ourselves and those around us. The more children understand both the science and art of cooking, and the more comfortable and familiar they become with kitchen and garden activities, the better able they will be to master and enjoy this important part of daily life.
For some children, formal experiments may be more interesting that “regular” cooking. For some fun study ideas about eggs, refer to Kathy O’Reilly’s “Exploring Eggs—Food Related Activities” here: http://www.amonco.org/spring8/montessori_spring8.pdf
Eggs are a very interesting and versatile food and science object. Find more experiments using eggs below. http://www.hometrainingtools.com/kitchen-science-newsletter/a/1295/ http://www.sandiegozoo.org/education/science_eggs_float.html http://www.homebaking.org/KitchenScience.pdf and http://www.twohelmets.com/2009/08/eggs-and-copper-bowls-kitchen-science.html
You can also have lots of fun and scientific learning with ice cubes. The fine folks at Fun Felt share quite a few ideas here: http://www.amonco.org/spring2/montessori_spring2.pdf
Some students will find recipes more inspiring than experiments, often because of the incentive of eating the results. (I think most of us can understand that!) If the children in your care are so inclined, try some of these fun recipes. “Fresh Off the Cob Casserole” or “Hot Fudge Topping” from Larry at the Farm Country General Store. http://www.amonco.org/spring7/montessori_spring7.pdf “Home-made Ice Cream in a Bag” from Ron at Intellitunes http://www.amonco.org/spring2/montessori_spring2.pdf and Nan Barchowsky’s “Yummy Peanut Butter Fudge” http://www.amonco.org/spring3/montessori_spring_3.pdf
Between activities, help children keep track of their cooking projects and practice their penmanship at the same time with Nan from Barchowsky’s Fluent Handwriting’s project idea, “Make Your Own Illustrated Favorite Foods and Recipes Notebook”. http://www.amonco.org/spring3/montessori_spring_3.pdf
Gardening can be a useful and enjoyable extension of both cooking and other kitchen sciences. Garden Artisans’ Catherine Hartridge offers many good ideas to help you get started gardening with children. http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf
Dale Gausman from North American Montessori Center also provides some additional neat insights on gardening with children in his article, “Spring Is Here – Planting a Flower Garden”. http://www.amonco.org/spring5/montessori_spring.5.pdf
If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space, you can still try some indoor gardening. Look at Dale’s cute “Grass-Eggshell People” project. http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf
Find more useful tips and ideas for gardening with children at these sites.