I was lucky enough to find this gem of a cooking class through a recommendation from a friend. Babe, (now 22 months) and I, attended a Little Hens holiday session and enjoyed it so much that we signed up for more. Like a perfectly prepared meal the ‘Little Cooks’ class brings fun and learning together seamlessly – leaving us both more than satisfied.
Little Hens is situated in Milnrow, a short walk from The Co-op and Milnrow tram stop. The warm and welcoming cook stop is a personal project of Pat an early years practitioner with qualifications in community nutrition.
The hens in Little Hens stands for – health, exercise, nutrition and sensory, all of which are incorporated into a Little Cooks session. From fine motor development, when doing spider fingers; in preparation for cutting butter into flour, to clear use and discussion around healthy ingredients, Pat – as mother hen, has all bases covered.
Aprons on and the sessions off, starting with hand hygiene and a thorough hand cleaning routine that also incorporates counting fingers. Counting and cleaning – two skills perfectly pitched for little learners.
Sing and shake
I knew Pat was serious about early development when her session began with singing. The children are asked to select their own utensils, from a child-friendly setup and then return them to their workbench. It surprised me how quickly Babe was selecting and naming her chef’s tools – a clear way to promote independence and self-confidence. With the whisk, spoon, rolling pin and shaker (a small transparent tub filled with pasta) Pat leads the singing ‘shake and shake and shake and stop,’ as the children join in and do the actions, all of which are skills required to cook.
Mixing and making
With her brilliantly simple but impressive recipes Pat does not shy away from covering all aspects of cooking, which is commendable with children as young as Babe. The little hens are supported to crack eggs, chop, weigh, roll, shake, sprinkle, mix, whisk and stir. There is a wonderful emphasis on letting the child lead the way, inspiring creative little cooks.
The sensory element comes in here with flour and sugar spooned over inquisitive little hands, ingredients offered for smelling and a small taste of what’s on offer.
Commitment to healthy eating is clear, with many of the recipes including a low amount of sugar, a variety of ingredients and a discussion about healthy foods. From my perspective, creating home cooked food is one of the healthiest messages to give.
Give children the chance to talk about what they like to eat while reinforcing messages about healthier choices
Little Hens chef together
The Little Cooks class does more than teaches children how to cook, it teaches them how to chef. The children taste and ‘play’ with their ingredients, deciding how much to select and what to put in. From bread creations with sweet and savoury flavours to a fiery ginger loaf, the children have a fantastic opportunity to experiment with flavours and try new things.
Bake and taste
Babe arrives home exclaiming ‘ufen on mummy,’ which is thankfully made simple with oven temperatures and timings written on a removable lid. A call to the grandparents and a short while later, we have a wonderfully tasty and highly complimentary social event, highlighting the importance of talking together over food.
Why little cooks?
The learning opportunities in this 45-minute session cover creativity, cleanliness, confidence building, promoting independence, number, measure, early literacy (song and rhyme), development of fine and gross motor skills and of course learning how to cook and the importance of good nutrition for healthy living.
In the Development Matters Early Years Framework, which is used within early learning settings across the UK it advises that we should ‘involve young children in preparing food’ from as early as 22 months.
For the 2-5 Eatwell Guide, outlining how to support your little one’s nutritional needs, follow the link here
Little Hens class details
Visit the Little Hens website or Facebook page for further information about class times, location and contact details. It’s a class well worth a visit and has inspired not only Babe in the kitchen but me too!