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Cooking with kids & Motor Development:

Cooking Provides Finger and Fine Motor Development Exercises for 4 year Olds


Four year olds are developing their fine motor skills.  They are building upon the skills that they've learned earlier, to do more refined tasks.


As preschoolers, they used stirring and patting as part of their normal development that fits well in with cooking.


Now they will be developing basic hand and finger skills that will be built upon later for more complicated coordination skills - such as cutting with knifes.  So, you want to be sure your children are ready for that.


Cooking provides many opportunities for development of finger muscles for 4 year olds:


Rolling motor skills

I can still remember when I gave Ryan play dough for the first time.  As soon as we made our own batch, Nathan was rolling snakes and other things.  Ryan grabbed some dough and started to roll it in his hands but he ended up with a flat disc.  He hadn't learned yet how to roll something between his two hands.  So, I started working on that right away. 


Cooking provides many opportunities for rolling instead of just using play dough:

*rolling cookies, such as snickerdoodles - and this also reinforces the dipping with rolling when you coat with the cinnamon-sugar mixture


*rolling meatballs - great exercise for rolling in the hands; and the sticky, cool meat is a great sensory experience too. 


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of rolling:  luscious lip-licking lemonade, cinnamon snails,


Peeling motor skills

Another activity that we take for granted that is a developed skill.  For four year olds, you might need to get them started, but after that, let them peel away!

*Peeling bananas

*Peeling oranges


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of peeling:  banana bread, orange and banana salad


Squeezing motor skills

You already know they love to squeeze - big bear hugs that take your breath away.  Well, they need to squeeze with their hands too to develop muscles for fine motor skills:

*Squeeze on icing or frosting: your own professional tools, already prepared icing in a tube, or frosting put in a baggie with the corner clipped off


*Squeeze fruit for juicing:  lemons, oranges


*Grapefruit:  after you eat a grapefruit for breakfast, squeeze the fruit to drink the juice


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of squeezing:  luscious lip-licking lemonade, fire truck cake


Spreading motor skills

What happens the first time a child is given a butter knife to spread butter on toast?  They usually end up just using the knife to press down and then slide, and it just doesn't work.  Spreading requires fine motor skills and uses muscles that need practice.


To start, do some easy spreading that you just can't do wrong  That will help them get the basic idea to understand how to spread more difficult things such as butter, jelly, and cream cheese.


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes for easy spreading:  baked tuna sandwiches, personal picasso pizza, apple crisp, spider crackers, and Italian crock pot.  And it contains these recipes for advanced spreading: cinnamon snails, double-decker french toast, pot of gold cupcakes, and fire truck cake.


Sprinkling motor skills

Sprinkling can be done in several ways, all of which use different motor skills:

*Shaking from a shaker or container (salt, decorating colored sugar crystals)

*Distributing from a spoon as a topping

*Picking up in the thumb and pointer finger and hand sprinkling

And each of these methods gets more difficult as you go.  The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of all three of these means of sprinkling:  coffee cake, easy cinnamon toast, and personal picasso pizza.


Cracking motor skills

Aren't cracking eggs fun?  My kids love it.  'Though I think we spend more time picking out the shells than actually cracking eggs.  Egg cracking uses fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. 


You have to hit the egg in just the right place on the edge of the bowl.  You have to use just the right amount of force.  You have to open the shell very gently and in one piece to get the yolk in the bowl without any shell.


No wonder kids get so excited when they do it!  It's dog-gone difficult!


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of cracking eggs:  double decker french toast, and Eggs McBankston,.


Mashing motor skills

Mashing is great fun.  It changes texture.  It's messy.  And it helps develop muscles in the arm for the strength to mash and the hands ability to hold the masher and control the motion and direction of the mashing.

*mashing potatoes

*mashing bananas with a fork

*mashing crackers in a baggie to make cracker crumbs

*mashing cream cheese to mix with fruit juice for a dessert recipe

The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of mashing:  baked potato buffet, home made applesauce, and banana bread


Food Painting for fine motor skills

Food painting? Yes.  Painting requires fine motor skills - especially when you are painting something small or something that needs fine details.  There are many opportunities to paint food:  cake air brushing, cookie painting, and even sandwich painting as found in the homeschool cookbook.  Food painting gives kids a whole new medium and avenue to express their creativity.  And it's always fun to eat your own art!


Scooping motor skills

Hey, even I have a problem with scooping ice cream - isn't that why I married a big, strong guy?  Scooping frozen ice cream requires some arm muscles; but it requires hand muscles too.  A lot of the scooping power comes from the hand, and the fingers have to hold on pretty tightly too.


Here are some easy scooping opportunities, of which there are plenty in the homeschool cookbook, of course:

*Semi-set gelatin or pudding into serving dishes

*Flour into a measuring cup

*Sugars into measuring cups - brown, granulated, powdered (all three different textures require different muscle use)

*Frozen dessert salads into serving dishes

*jelly out of a jar

*cooked spaghetti noodles onto a plate

*cooked rice onto a plate

It's not too difficult to get a variety of scooping practice while cooking with your kids.


Picking up small objects for fine motor skills

Using the thumb and pointer finger to pick up small objects is a develop skill that starts very early.  Cooking further helps develop that skill when you not only need to pick up small object, but put them in a certain place to make a design, pattern, or decoration.  This is most easily practiced with decorating different cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. 


The homeschool cookbook contains these recipes that support the development of rolling:  aquarium cups, fire truck cake, personal picasso pizza, spider crackers, wiggle watermelon slices


So, as you can see, cooking with kids provides the perfect opportunity for fine motor development in 4 year olds!  Start having some motor fun right now!  Click here

Laura Bankston

P.S. Fine motor skills is an important part of child development.  As parents, we expose our children to as many opportunities as possible to aid in their development.  That's why you need the cookbook designed with recipes that build these essential motor skills.  You have a few seconds to Get it now


Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum:  ï¿œHomeschool Cooking in a Boxï¿œ and the ï¿œHomeschool Cookbookï¿œ.  She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business.  For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit

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