Junior Chefs

by - September 24, 2016

Snacks are a super effective way of bringing kids into the library, and food is a pan-generational interest. Doing a cooking program seemed to me like a pretty safe bet for keeping the 5-12s entertained.

However, we have some limitations: primarily, our small size. We are a very petite library. And not only are we a small building -- we are a small building full of incredibly flammable books. We don't have a stove, and even if we did, fire + a room full of children = frightened librarians. So anything we would do would have to require little space, and no flames.

My initial goals were:

  • to do a simple cooking activity that didn't require knives or extreme heat
  • to familiarize the kids with 3 flavors or ingredients
  • to encourage the kids to think about what they eat
  • to have insanely fun experiences where the kids leave shouting THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVARRRRRRRRR. (This is usually a goal of every program.)

Attempt #1: Tastes of the Mediterranean: Tangy Tzatziki Sauce
Results: Blehhhhhhh.

We talked about lemon, garlic, and dill, and made a tzatziki sauce. The kids were awesome sports about it, but I could tell they thought everything stunk and that the sauce was gross. The program was over in a half hour and we wound up just snacking on crackers and talking about the new school they just built.


I decided that regardless of the rooms full of super-flammable books, I had to incorporate heat somehow, and have more yummy things to taste.


Attempt #2: Tastes of Fall: Apples, Pumpkins, and Butternut Squash
Results: Success! Joy! Giggling!
Click here to see my PowerPoint presentation I used. Obviously there's a lot of talking to do that isn't listed on the slides -- I use them to keep myself on track.

First thing in the morning, I filled one crockpot with ingredients for a pumpkin dump cake, and filled a second crockpot with butternut squash, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. By the time the kids arrived in the afternoon, the whole youth wing smelled glorious.

After we finished discussing apples, I assigned kids different jobs and set them about making apple pie rolls. Older kids sliced the apples and unrolled the dough while the younger kids passed out plates, napkins, and utensils. The middle kids measured out our ingredients and mixed them.

They smelled the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. They tried to guess what the melted butter was.

We loaded our apple rolls into a rather large toaster oven and talked about pumpkins and butternut squash while they baked. By the time they came out, we were ready to eat our apple, pumpkin, and butternut squash treats. The kids loved all of them!

I am just tickled pink about how this program turned out. It lasted an hour and ten minutes. The kids all worked together so well, and cleaned up when they were done.

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