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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Cooking In the Classroom

When I think back to my school days, I can remember many events that stood out. My Second-grade teacher, Mrs. Wiersig, brought food into the classroom for us to try when we were studying vowel sounds. She did so many great things, and we cooked different recipes with stories we would read during reading groups, and then I would beg my mom to make it at home for me! My Second-grade experiences are at the top of my list of things that I remember. She was a wonderful teacher. I began wanting to be a teacher in Second grade because of her. 

Scenario to think about: It is Friday afternoon, and Miss Adler gathers her students in the science center, where they cook on Fridays. Cooking is one of the students’ favorite things to do, and Miss Adler decides it is an important skill as it covers much more than the yummy treats they make. “Cooking with your class is not only fun but teaches responsibility and good nutrition and provides sensory and tactile learning experiences. It’s also great for math skills such as counting, weighing, measuring, etc. Cooking with your students builds vocabulary and helps with sequencing, following directions, and listening skills” (Smedly-Warren, 2016). 

Cooking in my classroom was one of my favorite things to do. Of course, I had to ensure that it was ok at the schools I was teaching at, but I had a microwave up high, and then I would bring other things like hotplates, etc., when needed. I know at some schools you can ask the cafeteria if you can cook there, and they will even help!

The children in my classroom were excited and looked forward to Fridays, as cooking is fun. I tried as many times as I could to cook and make it as meaningful as possible. Often what we would be cooking was followed through with a thematic unit or book we had read. Other times I gave the students an option, and they voted on what they wanted to make; we could then graph our votes and make it meaningful for math.

In many states, including Oklahoma, there is an Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom. They will come in for free and teach lessons to your students, cook with your students, and share resources. You can write grants for them, and you can learn so much that you can share with your children. Take time to look in your state to see if this is something that you could utilize.

Why Should You Cook With Your Students?

Cooking with your students is a life skill, but it also helps with math, science, language, social-emotional development, physical development (fine motor skills), cognitive skills, and at the same time, you are making memories. It allows the teacher to get to know his/her students and allows children to express themselves. As we know, families are busy, and many children do not eat at home or see their families cook or eat together. The teacher can also plan cooking activities around what children like to eat, but teach them about healthy eating and have them try things they may not otherwise try. 

Children can be given jobs when it is cooking time:

  • Stirring
  • Reading the recipe aloud
  • Preparing the cooking space
  • Cleaning as you go
  • Adding ingredients
  • Assembling pizza
  • Pouring

What is the Teachers's Role?

• Engaging children in conversation

• Verbalizing and describing what children are doing

• Discussing where foods come from

• Posing questions to encourage children to articulate what they are doing

• Making observations

• Posing questions for children to analyze and solve

• Modeling positive attitudes and behaviors.

Using Children’s Lit to Cook

Here is an example of one of my lessons:

  1. Read the book on Monday
  2. Do an art activity with the book on Tuesday
  3. Teach vocabulary from the book on Wednesday
  4. Math from the book on Thursday
  5. Writing, Spelling Word wall, etc, on Friday or if one of the other days does not pertain.
  6. Cook on Fridays

Ice Cream in a Baggie (something great to try to make in the winter with snow or as school is winding down.

Books to read about Ice Cream: “Its Ice Cream time” by Noah Lukeman, “The Little Ice Cream Truck” by Margery Cuyler and “I Scream, Ice Cream” by Amy Krouse

More resources for cooking with curriculum:

Dr. Shipley’s favorite cooking activities with books 

Cooking with letters of the alphabet

Extended Ideas:

Have a table ready and teach the students how to set up a table and serve family style. Take time to wash the dishes and clean up the cooking area. Invite families to cook with you, and share recipes with families to cook at home.

Things to Consider When you are Cooking:

  • Cleanliness
  • Safety (What will you cook in?)
  • Background knowledge
  • What are you teaching?
  • Can you involve families in the cooking area?
  • What about sending recipes home with students?
  • Family Forums and cooking

Other Important Resources

Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Lessons by Title

Cooking with Books

Cooking Up From with Preschool



Smedly-Warren, G. (2016). Cooking with Your Class.