The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced people worldwide to stay indoors or in isolation in their own homes. This meant adults had to work from home, while children had to do distance learning or attend classes online.
This also meant that parents have had to come up with fun activities for their children who were not allowed to go out, meet their friends, play in playgrounds, or do any other fun activities that they could pre-pandemic.
A year into the pandemic, we’re still being encouraged to stay inside. Naturally, it is difficult for parents to entertain and engage their children in doing fun activities that are not gadget-based. The quarantine has made life difficult for everyone, so it is very important to keep life as normal as possible and indulge in activities children can enjoy while in lockdown.
With families stuck together at home, cooking is a great activity to do with your little ones because of the many benefits you can enjoy, including:
- Helps kids improve their math skills through the measuring and counting of ingredients;
- Helps them develop literacy skills from reading recipes;
- Allows them to be creative, messy, and hands-on while having fun;
- Builds their self-confidence from the experience of creating their own meals;
- Develops healthy eating habits and encourages their palate to be more adventurous by using new ingredients and explaining where food comes from; and
- Allows parents and children to bond over the experience and through sharing the finished meal.
Ready to cook? Here are some fun recipe ideas that you can make with your kids of all ages:
#1. Bread Pizzas
This activity is easy because you can use ingredients available in your pantry: bread, cheese, and tomato sauce. Make it a little fancier by adding surprising ingredients.
Bread (baguette, rolls, bagels, sub rolls)
Sauce (tomato sauce, marinara sauce, pesto sauce, pizza sauce)
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Sausage, 1/2lb. breakfast or Italian
Canadian bacon slices
Pineapple chunks, fresh or canned
Tomato, 1 whole, sliced
Black olives, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- Slice bread in half and lay them, cut side up, on a large baking sheet. Top each half with either tomato, pizza, marinara, or pesto.
- Add a generous amount of grated cheese.
- Add other toppings you like on top of the cheese!
- Put the pan in the oven on the lowest rack for 8 to 10 minutes. Crank up the temperature to 425 °F and transfer the pan on the highest rack. Wait until the cheese bubbles a bit and turns golden.
- Remove and serve while hot!
Kid-friendly activity: Let your kids add the toppings to their own bread or pizza!
#2. Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries
If it’s hard for you to feed your kids vegetables, turn them into cheese-coated fries!
Zucchini, sliced and quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Coat cooling rack with nonstick spray or oil and place on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle zucchini fries with olive oil and dredge these into the parmesan mixture.
- Place these in the baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
- Serve with fresh parsley.
Kid-friendly activity: Let the kids coat the fries and place the zucchinis on the baking sheet.
#3. No-bake Snack Bars
These snacks are great as an after-school treat. It has everything that kids love—cereals, raisins, chocolate, and other sweets. What’s more, it’s flexible because you can use other items that are already available in your pantry.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups cereal
1 cup add-ons of choice (raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, etc.)
Pinch of salt for a sweet and salty flavor profile
- Line a square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and heat again for another minute. Repeat this step until the mixture becomes bubbly and foamy.
- Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the cereal and chosen add-ons.
- Pour the mixture into a prepared pan. Pack it down until firm.
- Add more fruits, nuts, or chocolate for toppings.
- Cover pan with another sheet of aluminum foil and place pan in the fridge overnight until completely set and ready to be sliced into bars.
Kid-friendly activity: Kids can mix the cereals and other ingredients, but do not let them touch the bowl from the microwave oven—it’ll be too hot for them to handle!
#4. Homemade Ice Pops
Ice pops are a nice icy treat on a hot summer day. This is another easy activity to do with kids because the ingredients can be mixed in a blender and placed in popsicle molds until ready. Flavors can vary depending on what fruits and vegetables are in season.
Yogurt, plain or flavored
Frozen or fresh fruits of your choice
Honey for sweetness according to taste
- Place ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Pour mixture into popsicle molds and place inside the freezer for four hours or overnight.
- Serve and enjoy!
Kid-friendly activity: They can add all of the ingredients inside the blender and decorate the popsicles by adding fruits inside the mold.
#5. Bento Box Lunches
If your kids are picky eaters, maybe bento lunch boxes could be the solution. Make lunch fun and interesting by making the food cute and colorful.
- Cut out sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables into cute shapes like flower, star, circle, or triangle.
- Use seaweed or other food items to create copies of cartoon characters.