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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Pint-sized Chefs

Get your kids involved in Thanksgiving dinner preparation. Give them one of the tasks on this list. They’ll have fun learning their way around a kitchen and feel extra proud knowing that they helped produce the family feast.

1) Make salad/rip lettuce.

Make sure their little hands are clean and then get them to work. They can tear lettuce with their hands, spin the salad spinner (a favorite in our house), or add veggies to the bowl.

2) Mash things that are not hot.

“Mashables” include cauliflower, butternut squash, broccoli, bananas, or even strawberries for shortcake.

3) Cut with a plastic knife.

Make sure what they are cutting is soft like melon, a peeled cucumber, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.

4) Stir a sauce.

If you are making a sauce either for dipping or a marinade, let your kids watch you measure the ingredients and then allow them to mix them up. Often times, I would pour an ingredient into a measuring cup or spoon, and then my daughter would pour it into the bowl. Both of my kids love to use a whisk for mixing.

5) Baste meat.

Although this is an activity that requires more supervision (no finger licking allowed!), using a brush to baste chicken, fish, or beef is a lot of fun.

6) Roll meatballs.

Supervision is most definitely suggested for this activity, which is appropriate for kids ages 7 and up. You don’t want to do this with a child who is too young and who might eat the raw meat or lick their hands.

7) Measure flour and/or ingredients.

When you are making things like pancakes, waffles, muffins, or cookies, it’s really okay if not everything is exact. My daughter has now learned how to level off the flour and the baking soda or powder, measure sugar (her favorite ingredient), and use a liquid measuring cup. A lot of this takes patience when they are young but will pay off later.

8) Roll dough.

There’s a reason why play dough is so popular; kids love to roll things. Now, maybe you don’t want them rolling out the crust of your famous holiday pumpkin pie, but there’s always something they can do like the extra pastry or pizza dough or even cookies. They can use a regular or kid-sized rolling pin, or their hands. Just keep an eye on what goes in their mouths if the dough contains eggs or other raw ingredients.

9) Mix a batter.

Whether it’s pancakes or pudding, give them the whisk, paddle, or spatula and let them go to town. Just make sure the batter stays in the bowl!

10) Decorate cakes or cookies.

Make cake and cookie decorating more fun and less Cake Boss! Let them add color, candy, frosting, etc. Just be careful to not overdo it on the sugar. 

Chef Amy Fothergill is a mom and author of the award-winning cookbook The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love (The Family Chef, 2013). Find her at