Can They Do It? Yes They Can!

Girl CookingSince I teach cooking classes for children, people ask me all the time about what their kids can really do in the kitchen. They find it hard to believe that their toddler can actually help, without causing chaos. When I do workshops for mother’s groups or schools on Family Mealtimes or Cooking with Kids, I often include the chart below in my hand-outs. It highlights some of the age-appropriate cooking skills that children can do. Of course, you know your child best, and need to use your discretion about how this list applies to your child.

2-3 year olds can:

4-6 year olds can:

7-12 year olds can:

o Rinse vegetables or fruits

o Tear large pieces of lettuce

o Stir

o Pour with assistance

o Select which ingredients they want to taste or use

o Recognize changes to ingredients during the cooking process

o Sort ingredients

o Help identify ingredients in the grocery store

o Group utensils when setting the table.

o Pour

o Mix

o Count and do simple measurements

o Cut with a plastic or butter knife

o Crack eggs

o Start to follow recipe cards and symbols

o Create their own recipes, and draw them on cards

o Identify images or diagrams of ingredients on your grocery list

o Set the table.

o Do tasks listed previously

o Write your shopping list and read it to you at the store.

o Help select which recipes the family will share at mealtime.

o Read and follow recipes

o Work with a heat source (supervised)

o Cut with a sharper knife (with instruction)

o Create their own recipes and write the steps

o Help to wash dishes

o Do tasks listed previously

For another great list, based on developmental skills, take a look at my friend Kathleen’s website, Dinner Together.

When you prepare meals for your family, don’t forget to Call The Kids into the kitchen to help. The kids will enjoy the quality time they spend with you, and you will get a personal assistant!

This winter, try this delicious soup recipe. There is a Call The Kids section towards the bottom of the recipe to guide you on what your kids can do to help.

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)
2 Tbs (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups ditalini (or any small pasta) pasta
Grated Parmesan or Romano, for the table
Crusty bread, for mopping

  1. Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil.
  2. Add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.
  3. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
  4. Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.
  5. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente.
  7. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet.
  8. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.


  • If you have one, kids can use a food chopper to chop the carrot, celery and garlic
  • Pour in canned tomatoes
  • Measure and add water and broth
  • Drain and rinse canned beans
  • Measure dry pasta
  • Grate cheese with a rotary cheese grater (to protect little knuckles!)

Servings: 6

Nutrition (per serving): 248.1 calories; 27% calories from fat; 7.7g total fat; 1.6mg cholesterol; 1400.9mg sodium; 796.5mg potassium; 38.9g carbohydrates; 5.7g fiber; 5.4g sugar; 33.1g net carbs; 7.6g protein.

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10 Responses to Can They Do It? Yes They Can!

  1. kitchenmage says:

    Ooooh! A table with lists. Bestill my geeky little heart. I especially like that you have included ‘create their own recipes…’ because that’s really important to small people.

  2. Thanks Kitchenmage!! I’ll be sharing this tomorrow night when I speak to a Moms of Multiple’s club.

  3. what a great list! thanks for posting this. :)

    when can you send them to the store and have them make dinner for you as well? ;) i guess after they are old enough to drive, huh? hehe.

  4. Pingback: Seeryously Gude Cooking | Join Shannon Seery Gude on her social media cooking journey

  5. Pingback: Babies Online Blog » Blog Archive » Cooking with Kids

  6. Thanks for reading this everyone! Our friends at Bostonmamas and Citymommy liked it so much that we submitted versions to them, too!

  7. I have children from 3 to 10 years old and like you said, I don’t really believe they can help me in the kitchen, but the table you have here helps me to realize that hey! my little guys can have fun with me in the kitchen too.

  8. christie says:

    Love this. My kids (twins, now nearly 7yo) have been cooking with me since they were two. It takes patience, yes, and you have to start prepared and be ready to clean up afterwards — particularly if you are working with more than one child at a time — but it is SO worth it and SO rewarding (for me and for them). I see that this isn’t a new post, but I’m glad it’s out there. :)

  9. Kathleen says:

    Great list Michelle. Thanks for linking to mine as well. The two lists really complement each other so nicely! :)

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