I love to cook.  My children love to help me cook.  This can sometimes delay the process, but allowing them to help sometimes actually makes things easier.  Let me explain.  Now I don’t let them use the stove, but I let them participate in safe ways.   I cook most of my family’s meals from scratch.  I typically never make pre-packaged meals,  aside from Mac-n-Cheese because this is too good to miss!  (Are you cringing, yet?)  Anyways, meals take time and young children rarely give you time to get things done.  Children love to be big helpers, as you know.  My children go get their step stools from the bathroom and stand by the counter to ‘help’ almost every day.  In order to keep my sanity, I give each of them a little personal cutting board from a local dollar store and some spreaders from the dollar section at Target (I love this little treasure cove).   So for about $4, I can keep my children busy for about 15 minutes as I prep dinner.  This would work for many things, but today we are cutting up canteloupe.  Before I cut the melon open, I have my children guess what color the inside will be.  I love to see their faces of amazement as we perform a little science prediction in the kitchen.  During this time, we talk about whether my oldest thinks this is a fruit or a vegetable, how it grows, what she thinks it tastes like, and the sort.  We talk about what else has the same colors and textures (math skill).  A simple little task of cutting up melon can turn into a great learning experience where children can use their senses to extend their knowledge way beyond that fruit that is something we eat.  As you can see from the pictures, my children’s techniques vary with age.  However, by allowing them to help, they are developing hand and eye coordination and strengthening their dexterity, which will help them as they progress to reading and writing.  So this simple little food experience will totally enhance my genious expectations!