Teaching children to cook can get them to eat a variety of foods, as well as apply some schoolbook learning.
Sometimes it's tough to get kids to eat certain foods or do their homework. But put them in a kitchen and food becomes fun and educational.
``I thought this might inspire them to eat more types of things,'' said Mary Dooley of her three children -- Claire, 9, Grace, 7, and James, 4. ``They really like to cook at home.''
Two cooking classes held Thursday at The Children's Book Shop, 937 Mass., drew about 30 local children, mostly under age 10, and parents. Mom, Scout leader and self-made baker Katherine Berkowitz taught everyone about basic kitchen tools and rules, as well as leading the way through some fun recipes, including homemade ice cream.
``Kids have fun cooking,'' Berkowitz said. ``It's a process of exploration and activities parents can do with the kids.''
Using measuring cups, determining amounts of ingredients needed and watching the time while cooking can also be a great hands-on way to teach math. How everything mixes together and reacts to form a mix or batter then cooks is a fun science lesson, she said.
``Plus this way you know what you're using and what you're eating,'' she said.
Diane Guthrie heard about the class while shopping in the store and brought her two children -- Dylan, 6, and Julia, 4, -- to the class to pick up recipe ideas they can do on their own.
``It's not a matter of getting them in the kitchen,'' she said. ``It's almost a problem of getting anything done in the kitchen with them there.''
Guthrie and Dooley both said they encourage their children to help in the kitchen, cooking snacks or baking cakes.
``If it is supervised, it is OK and they love it,'' Guthrie said.
With easy-to-use and fun recipes found in many children's cookbooks, children might just come to the table a little quicker, Berkowitz said.
``Food is fun, and food is exciting,'' she said. ``That's what I want to show children. Food is not going to the freezer and putting something in the microwave.''
Food might even be a gift for one little girl in the class which featured Crown Cake, a single-layer cake topped with upside down ice cream cones and decorated with candies and fruit.
``It was great,'' 9-year-old Claire Dooley said about the class. ``The cake was fun, and my dad wants me to make him something for his birthday.''
Berkowitz said the two classes taught Thursday were a first for her at the store, timed to give local children something fun to do during spring break. Although no additional classes have been scheduled, she and store workers said they hope to choose more dates in the future.
-- Selena Stevens' phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.