Kids Health: Getting kids involved in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a busy time, especially in the kitchen. Experts say that children should be involved in getting the dinner ready.

Once a month, Chef Robert Bennett of Classic Cake comes to a Voorhees pre-school to make yummy treats with the kids.

"I put brown sprinkles and red sprinkles and yellow sprinkles, and orange sprinkles," says one of the students.

Through the sometimes messy process, the kids pick up important lessons about life - such as being creative, and working together.

Chef Bennett says, "On purpose, we don't put too many colors on one table. They have to share with other tables."

Children's Hospital dietitian Rachel Lenhoff says even little ones can learn a nutrition fundamental - that a colorful diet is a healthy one.

She says, "Start at the grocery store. You might bring a young child, and give them a challenge to find different colors of the rainbow with fruits & vegetables."

Lenhoff says mixing ingredients improves fine-motor skills.

Measuring and counting teach math skills, such as fractions.

Kids also learn why washing hands is so important in and out of the kitchen.

Getting them into the kitchen might even help with the perennial "picky eater" problem.

"Young children are much more likely to try a new food if they helped you prepare it," says Lenhoff.

The students at Congregation Beth El already include some fledgling cooks.

"I help mommy make the pizza," says one student.

Another adds, "I help make meatballs."

And, young Zachary says he helps clean up after meals.

Lenhoff says, "It can help with showing children responsibility."

Of course, children should always be supervised, and be sure to set some safety rules.

Experts say giving kids ownership, such as their own measuring cups or apron can help motivate them.

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