As an avid cook and teacher with a focus on reading education, combining cooking and reading is a natural fit for me. Connecting two seemingly unrelated activities is often a powerful way to help students learn or improve skills. Extension activities like cooking make reading more enjoyable and help students relate to the content of the book for improved comprehension. Use these tips to follow up a good book with a session in the kitchen.
Cooking as a literacy follow-up activity takes some planning. You’ll need to find a recipe that somehow connects to the story. Some kids’s books mention a specific dish or type of food. This gives you a natural option to make with your child. “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert is an example of this type of book.
Other books might have a looser connection. After reading a Curious George book, you might make monkey bread, for example. Or you might cook a Mexican dish after reading a kids’ book set in Mexico. As long as you can find some connection to the book, your cooking activity is a suitable follow-up activity.
Read Then Cook
Reading the book first is the key to making this an effective literature activity. By reading the book first, your child gets the background information from the story. You can discuss the cooking connection as part of reading the story. In “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, talk about how muffins are made and what different options you have for muffins.
Explore the Recipe
Before diving right in, look over the recipe with your child. This gives him another chance to practice his reading skills. Let your child help gather all of the ingredients. Assign him cooking tasks that he can handle. If the recipe requires cutting with a sharp knife, your preschooler should watch during that part of the prep. But he can handle washing produce, pouring ingredients and stirring the mixture.
Eat and Reread
After making the dish related to the story, it’s time to enjoy your hard work. Take time to read the story again. Your child can better appreciate and understand the story after he tastes the food that was connected to the story. If the story references an ethnic dish he hadn’t tried previously, he wouldn’t know how the dish tasted the first time you read the story. The second time around, he’ll know exactly what the story is talking about.