Young Chefs 1

Thanksgiving Culinary Creations With Children

Autumn becomes an amazing time to teach children a greater appreciation of baking and cooking.

By applying patience, children as young as 2 years old can be attentive, good bakers, assures Yvonne Jensen, who has been a cooking and Spanish teacher at The Elegant Child child care and preschool center for the past 17 years. At this learning center located at 513 Strecker Road in Wildwood, she teaches all students how to bake while also giving them instructions and coaching in Spanish!

“The key to assisting children with learning how to bake is to provide ingredients and tools on an individual basis,” Yvonne says. “They like to do things themselves, so make that as easy and fun as you can by having colorful bowls and different sizes of measuring spoons, especially for small fingers.”

Each year at Elegant Child, she says they typically make pumpkin croissants and turkey cookies this time of year.

“It’s important that children get hands-on experience in the kitchen, so they learn what everything is called,” she says.

Yvonne says another long-term benefit of children learning how to handle themselves in kitchens is that they truly understand from where food comes.

“Knowing how food works, and how to create it from start to finish makes great life lessons,” she says.

Another area campus at which children learn on-site from a fully equipped culinary center is the new Children’s Learning Adventure, 15677 Manchester Road in Ellisville. Center director Kelly Nordman says all children attending the campus, ages 3 to 12 years, visit the culinary room once a week.

“Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, and it’s an opportunity to take traditional American recipes and teach kids about our history through active participation in creating these celebrated foods,” says Christa Stewart, Children’s Learning Adventure’s culinary teacher, who serves as the chef with assistance from classroom teachers.

Kelly says there are several culinary educational benefits, such as the interactive classroom providing children with an environment to develop life skills and self-esteem, while reinforcing math, geography, science and reading skills.

“While cooking, our students read recipes, measure ingredients and learn about different cultures around the world,” she adds.

This year’s cooking curriculum revolves around making pumpkin pies, roasted vegetables and “cranberry fizz,” Christa, who also builds in learning outcome questions with each adapted recipe, says.

Although ABC Chefs Cooking Academy at 227 Chesterfield Mall takes a break from cooking classes during November, owner Faronda Davis says kids 2 through 17 years can take cooking and baking classes in other months, starting again in December. Her daughter, Ayla, just appeared on the “Masterchef Junior” TV show.

Build-Your-Own Turkey Muffins


Pumpkin muffins, already baked and cooled

Green grapes

Red apple

Green apple

Carrot slivers

Squeezable black icing for turkey’s eyes (optional)


  1. 1. From each apple, cut slices from the side. Set apple slices flat; with a knife square-off both ends and taper one end of each slice to mimic turkey tail feathers.
  2. 2. Cut a small, triangular-shaped beak from a thin slice of carrot. Make a slit in the end of a green grape. Insert carrot beak into grape.
  3. 3. Poke small ends of feathers side by side into one side of muffin. Set head on muffin, resting it on the muffin paper to hold it up, or poke it with a toothpick to hold it on, if safe for age of child.
  4. 4. Once all the pieces are assembled on the muffin, add tiny dot eyes with icing, if desired.

Ice Cream Mashed Potatoes


3 medium sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons dairy creamer

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 red potatoes

3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons sour cream

Sea salt to taste

3 medium white potatoes

1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon hot chocolate mix to add to white mashed potatoes to make “chocolate” ones

The idea is to create three colors/flavors of mashed potatoes and dip them out of the bowls with an ice cream or melon scooper to place side by side on a platter or dish, much like ice cream is presented in banana splits.


  1. 1. For each potato variation, peel and cube potatoes. Boil in water, until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. 2. Add creamer, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla to boiled sweet potatoes and mix for “orange ice cream.” Add milk, sour cream and sea salt to red potatoes and mix. Add yogurt to white potatoes and mix. Remember when mashing for this type of potato presentation, a thicker scooping consistency is needed.