We love cooking as a family and getting our kids in the kitchen. I strongly believe that teaching children to cook is one of the best ways to get them engaged in nutrition and ingredient sourcing and ultimately help them lead a healthy life.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Sometimes, though, it can be a bit of a messy experience.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

With three boys ages five and under, we have a whole crew of little hands-on culinary artists. Here's how we've learned to maximize the kitchen fun and minimize the mess.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Create a work surface. Clear off a big table or countertop so kids don't have to work around clutter. I like to lay that sticky saran wrap down on the table if we're tackling a really messy task.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Use simple measurements they can understand. I do my very best to find recipes that use basic whole-tablespoon and cup amounts. Once they can easily visualize one cup of flour and one teaspoon of salt, we branch off into quarter-cups and even ounces, pints and more complicated units of measure.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Choose age-appropriate tools. For example, I often have Some Boy – our five-year-old – use a stick blender because it's easier for him to maneuver than a hand blender. Plus, it's more fun for him to use.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Don't make them be neat and tidy. There's just no point, and constant reminders to “be careful!” can ruin the fun. I parlay the whole “kids in the kitchen” experience into a little lesson in the art of cause-and-effect, showing the boys that messy food and the occasional spill simply means it's time to do some laundry!

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Just like we select the best tool for the job while cooking, my kids know it's important to use a powerful detergent for tough stains. Our sponsor OxiClean™ HD Laundry Detergent blasts away stains like none other. The before-and-after and hands-on experience gives the boys (and myself) a real sense of accomplishment.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

 

For older kids, it's also a smart lesson in wise spending: springing for the high-quality stuff produces TRUE value in terms of effectiveness.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Let them eat with their shirts off. As long as you've gotten the laundry going, save yourself from any further mess by waiting to get re-dressed until after you indulge.

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Get them involved in clean-up. We have Some Boy already helping out with laundry, and we also have Sidekick getting hands-on with dishes and table clean-up. Choose age appropriate tasks to teach them that many hands make light work. Which brings me to my last point…

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

Start them young. Even tiny tots can stack a couple crackers on top of each other or dip a cheese stick in some sauce. Use what you have and let them enjoy the dining experience!

7 Tips for kids in the kitchen (a few simple tricks for making it a slightly-less-messy and super-fun experience!)

What special tips or tricks do you have for having fun with your kids in the kitchen?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Oxiclean™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Oxiclean™ all opinions are my own.