Cooking again? If your kid finds it fun being with you in the kitchen or even further, they are interested in helping you with cooking, it can be an amazing chance to introduce them some science. Why not use these moments to talk about food changes during cooking and therefore teach some fun food chemistry to kids?
Don’t be scared, Parent! You do not have to be excellent at chemistry though, as they won’t ask you to write down the formula of the reaction yet. However, there are so many simple things going on while the food is processed. It might be some common stuff for you but you will see your kids being thrilled by new discoveries.
We’ve collected some common food processes we do almost every day and some explanation simplified especially for kids which you might (or might not) like. The main point here is to let kids OBSERVE, NOTICE the changes and THINK about the possible reasons or similar processes they might be familiar with (no problem here for you, parent, just Google it together with your children and give your own understanding).
And, finally, your food is done together with a joy of quality time and excitement of new learnings!
If your kid is a baby or toddler try these learning games in the kitchen that we’ve collected from PlayMama App (for babies to kids up to 4 year old). However, you may want to take a look below – some of the learning can be interesting even for toddlers (bet they’ll love whipped cream!).
These are the ‘miracles’ that you can get your kids fascinated by:
Give your little one a chance to see the fresh egg and break it in into the bowl. Of course they saw it a lot before. Why not to let them comment on WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT if we fry the egg in a pan or boil it in hot water?
1. Boiling an egg.
Let them Observe the changes and Notice how it turns from transparent to white colour in the pan. And how it turns solid when boiled. Exciting what high temperatures can do!
If your kid is grown up enough to know the word Protein then feel free to comment on Protein molecules get trapped among each other (sticking closer together) as a result of heating. In case they want to learn more, take a peek here.
2. Boiling a potato
Let your kid Notice that potato gets the completely the opposite process: potato is solid when not cooked. However, it turns soft after boiling or baking. Needless to mention about the changes in taste.
Give them little bit of thoughts that there is something inside potato that might be crashed during heating so that potato is not solid any more. What can it be? If your kids knows how to use google for learning purposes – let them do it!
3. Cooking Meat
Uncooked meat is red but it turns grey or white when cooked.
Let kids Observe and Notice this change in just few minutes.
In addition, you can introduce the idea of irreversibility of chemical changes. So, the meat can’t be turned back to soft and red. What is done is done. Haha – here we come to the basics of Chemistry knowledge:
- Once a change occurs it can not be turned back into previous state
- The chemical reaction may result in the change of the Colour.
- And the smell also can be an attribute of reaction
- As well as gas (vapour)
Brilliant! Just 5 minutes of kid’s attention and the basics of Chemistry is learnt!
4. Grilling vegetables.
Observe how vegetables cover with a blackness when grilled. It is grilled – and the edges are burned! Good moment to let children think over that actually everything that burns turns this black colour –paper, food, a toy etc.
Challenge your child by questioning about them: is it chemical or not? Smell, colour changes – he might remember what to notice! And yes, unfortunately, it will not turn backwards into the previous state.
Here is a perfect moment to talk safety rules related to heat or fire! Make sure it is not too exciting so that kids don’t try these experiments by themselves.
5. Toasting bread.
The same talk as for vegetables – high temperature turns the bread black and gives it such a nice smell. That means it’s Chemistry! Again!
6. Whipping cream
The next time you bake, let your kid help you with making whipped cream. Not only high temperature makes chemical changes but air can do too. Yes, the miracle of transformation happens due to a reaction with oxygen. By mixing we help to get more air into the liquid cream. And sugar.
Even if your kid is just a toddler let them watch how you turn a liquid cream with different taste into an amazing whipped cream. Bet your precious one is so looking forward to taste it.
7. Sugar Modifications.
If you’re lucky to get a Cream Brule they can observe how the sugar they popped on top turns into caramel. Voila! So, this is exactly how all the sugar candies are made and now your little one knows it!
And here you can turn your conversation into other aspects: candies are made of sugar, sugar stays in our mouths and teeth after eating, it attracts many microbes, triggers cavity etc.
In total to become a sugar candy, sugar makes many transformations. Before sugar is caramelised under high temperature, it becomes liquid first.
8. Bacon releases fat and it becomes liquid
Nice talk on a weekend morning. Just show your kid how bacon leaves lots of its fats on the pan. Do you know why? Honestly, we did not know until we googled it. The heat sort of makes the fat melt… (or follow the links below to get some more idea how to explain).
9. Mixture miracles
Similar with the case with a whipped cream, heating is now the only way to make metamorphoses in your kitchen. Making a mixture is a real chemical process.
Making pancakes or just finishing a dough mix? Make those irreversible changes and let your kid observe it.
They can try making a fruit salad but just a mixture of fruit pieces does not make it a chemical process. If the pieces are separate then it is not chemistry, sorry.
Peeled apples turns brown. Air triggers an oxygen reacts with the iron in the fruit. Irreversible reaction with colour changes though no gas observed. In fact, not only apples turn brown when cut. The same thing happens to bananas, pears and even potatoes.
That’s not all, folks! Take another piece of the same apple, peel it and squeeze a lemon on it: then you all can observe that there is no oxygen reaction this time. Let’s google it! Lemon (acid) is an antioxidant. Thanks Google! Good to know!
If your kid is eager to apply their knowledge and get themselves into chemical experiments then remember: there are many processes in cooking that are actually physical rather than chemical.
When you freeze water, melt chocolate and melt butter. It’s all physical! Why? It is all reversible: water unfreezes and , chocolate becomes solid again, as well as butter does.
But this is a completely different story that we might build one of our next blogs on.