The Guardian Cooking and Nutrition Program
2nd June 2021
At Guardian, the kitchen is an extension of the classroom.
We take cooking and nutrition very seriously in our Centres – but we have a lot of fun doing it!
From hands-on experiences with our cooks and chefs, through to growing our own produce in the garden, food is a big part of our day at Guardian, thanks to our national cooking and nutrition program. There are…
- Chances to practice literacy and numeracy as we read our recipes and count out the ingredients.
- Opportunities to learn about teamwork when we join together to prepare dishes – “You crack the eggs, and I will stir!”
- Visits to Centre vegetable gardens where children collect ingredients to add to their meals and gain an understating of good nutrition.
The learning outcomes from cooking experiences are incredible! And that’s why, like everything else we do in our Centres, these intentional teaching experiences are carefully planned as part of your child’s program, with our team of fantastic chefs, cooks and expert educators at the helm.
Cooking classes and experiences
We know that if we involve children in the planning, preparing and cooking of meals, they will be more willing to try new things. But our cooking experiences are about more than expanding your child’s palate and getting to eat their greens!
Our cooks and chefs work alongside our educators and teachers to create amazing interactive cooking experiences with the children, which double as amazing learning experiences. Cooking is a fun, and often gloriously messy way to bring learning into an activity. Through cooking, children learn a number of skills and concepts, such as:
- Numeracy. Counting ingredients, weighing and measuring, quantities and volume
- Literacy. Reading ingredient lists and methods.
- Fine motor skills. Stirring and pouring, mixing and mashing.
- Scientific concepts. Why do things go in to the over cold and wet and come out hot and dry?
Social & emotional skills
- Collaboration. Children learn to work as a team when doing cooking experiences and to share, cooperate and take turns – e.g. “You crack the eggs, and I will stir!”
- Inclusion and Diversity. Preparing and enjoying foods from other countries and cultures teaches children to embrace others and encourages inclusion.
- Creativity. What fruits can we add to this smoothie?
- Sustainability. Growing our own food and recycling our organic waste from food scraps is a way of reducing our impact on the planet.
We view our Cooking and Nutrition Program at Guardian as much more than just feeding the children new and healthy foods. It is a great daily learning opportunity from our babies through to more interactive experiences for our Preschool and Kindergarten children.
Learning outcome 1: Numeracy
When preparing a dish, we have the children help count out the ingredients, measure what needs to be added and even weigh things like flour and butter, which teaches them in a real-world way about quantities. We also explore concepts like volume when we’re pouring from one jug or container into another.
Learning outcome 2: Literacy
Cookbooks aren’t necessarily just for cooking. They are actually a great example of an information text for young children. Cookbooks combine bright photos and clearly written lists of words, which allows children to relate the photos to the text and gain real understanding. We often get the older children involved in reading out the ingredients and the method for our recipes.
Learning outcome 3: Fine motor skills
Mixing and stirring helps fine-tune those small hand muscles that are so important for holding a pencil when they reach school age. Activities like pouring and cracking eggs are also brilliant for coordination. We also use special, safe children’s knives that help the children develop their independence and to practice spatial awareness as they begin to understand where their fingers are in relation to the knife.
Learning outcome 4: Scientific concepts
Cooking also provides the opportunity to learn about science and how different elements react together. Be it the bubbling mix of bicarb soda and hot water when making yummy ANZAC biscuits, or exploring concepts such as why things go into the oven cold and wet and come out hot and dry.
Learning outcome 5: Collaboration
Children learn to work as a team when doing cooking experiences and to share, cooperate and take turns – e.g. “You crack the eggs, and I will stir!” This is all about children becoming collaborators – interacting with others, working together, giving and following instructions and making decisions and problem solving.
Learning outcome 6: Inclusion & Diversity
We are so lucky to have chefs and cooks in our Centres who create incredible meals for our children. Many of our cooks and chefs have family backgrounds from other countries, which means we’re also able to offer lots of new and exciting foods and flavours for the children to enjoy. This helps us have conversations about diversity, cultures and the different foods people eat and enjoy all around the world.
Learning outcome 7: Creativity
Cooking is also a chance for children to get creative in their learning. Whether it be coming up with different flavour combinations for a fruity smoothie, or decorating cookies and cupcakes in their own unique way. Cooking is an experience ripe for learning and imagination!
Learning outcome 8: Sustainability
Most of our Centres have vegetable and herb gardens, as well as active composting programs to feed our growing harvests which the children pick to add to our meals. This full ‘Playground to Plate’ experience teaches the children about the lifecycle of plants and how growing our own food is a great way to reduce our impact on the planet.
The Guardian Cooking and Nutrition Program looks at every aspect of food and nutrition, and delivers it to children via fun, engaging, play-based learning. This means they can develop the skills to become independent and competent lifelong learners.
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