Ok, if you’ve read some previous posts, I’m sure by now you’re probably wondering, “Does this family eat anything that isn’t pizza?”
Yes, actually, the only thing this kid typically eats for breakfast is porridge. (That’s right, not oatmeal, I said porridge-like Goldilocks and the Bears…) But today, we were out of his typical favorite, so when I asked what he wanted to eat, I had to honor his request for pizza with Breakfast Pizza!
This was another super fun way to connect with him through a cooking activity we both love to share! He has become a pro at spreading sauce, shaking spices, and sprinkling cheese on our dinner meal, so we transferred those skills to breakfast pizza!
This time we used Hardough bread as our base. Never heard of it? Head to the ethnic aisle to check out their Caribbean selection. This traditional Jamaican bread is much denser than our standard American sandwich bread and typically sweeter, which makes for a fantastic breakfast pizza base. It was also a sweet way to combine his Jamaica and Italian heritages into one meal!
When I suggested yogurt as our sauce alternative, he immediately asked for “crunchy stuff.” (He is totally capable of saying “granola,” but it’s much cuter to hear a request for “crunchy stuff”!) Then we brainstormed other foods he usually eats in the morning. Bananas, oranges, berries (sadly, we were out), pears, and “quack-amole” (again, he is totally capable of saying “guacamole,” but that is stinkin’ cute!!!)
So we got to work! One thing I love about cooking is all of the hidden opportunities to teach. While he was putting the yogurt on the bread, we talked about moving the yogurt all over the bread’s surface, which is called spreading. This is a new vocabulary word that I know he’ll start to use after hearing it being used in context.
We talked about transitional words such as “First, Second, Next, Then, Finally, etc.” This is a little more complex to teach out of context, so when doing an activity that has steps or a particular order to follow, it is much easier to teach young children how to use these words in conversation. For instance,
First, we spread the yogurt onto the bread.
Second, you chose to add the pears.
Then you want to add the banana.
Before you can add the banana, you will need to cut up the banana. Once the banana is cut, then you can add it to the pizza.
Next, you want to add the orange. Again, before you can add the orange, you need to do one more thing. Please peel the orange into smaller pieces, then you can add to the pizza.
Last, we need to top it off with “crunchy stuff”.
Now we are finished! Let’s eat!
See how easy it is to incorporate more complex vocabulary naturally into the activity? By using words he already knows, such as “Banana, bread, pear, cut,” in more complex sentences, his brain is starting to understand how those words make sense. If I decided to teach to word “spread” while waiting in line at Target, this probably wouldn’t make any sense since he wouldn’t have concrete examples in front of him. Explaining these concepts with a hands-on activity is the best way to teach young children!
There’s also a ton of stuff that was secretly being taught. For one, he is learning healthy eating choices as we reinforce what options are for breakfast. I will admit that on Feb. 15th, he asked for chocolate for breakfast. He enjoyed a Hershey’s kiss the night before as a special treat and immediately asked for it as soon as he opened his eyes the next day. We talked about that being a special treat and not something we always eat. Insert 2-year-old whining in disagreement, but he got over it when the chocolate did not appear. These healthy eating messages are sometimes more explicit as we explain why chocolate isn’t a breakfast option, but more often, it’s subliminal in our everyday discussions about foods.
Another skill he has to learn while cooking is self-regulation. In order to get the yogurt onto the bread, he needs to control where the spoon is moving. Widely flailing the spoon around may seem more fun (especially when he sees my reaction), but ultimately, it won’t cover the bread.
As much fun as he has added those toppings to the pizza, he has to learn to stand still on the stool to be safe. At the beginning of our cooking adventures, I constantly had to remind him of this. Now he knows dancing or jumping is not an option when standing on a stool. Once he’s done cooking, he can go bananas on the ground!
So whether you’re looking for a way to get your little one to eat more by taking part in meal prep or you just need a fun activity to do together, know that you are teaching your little one so much more than you know!
Some skills may be more intentional, like vocabulary, while others are more embedded in healthy choices.