The magic of learning with food!

Do you feel like your child could THRIVE in the right environment? Are you looking for what that could be?

Do you think they would benefit from creative learning, hands on experiences and confidence building?

Can we let you into a secret?.. We have the answer - Seriously!

This blog is going to be a SPECIAL GUEST one, so grab a cuppa and settle in for an AMAZING and exciting read!

Hi there! I'm Becky Pizzilli.

I'm an Occupational Therapist with 17 years’ experience. My passion lies in neurological rehabilitation and helping people who have experienced a brain injury to rediscover their sense of purpose and wellbeing through activities of daily living. Jess has invited me to write this amazing blog and to share my zone of expertise with you!


Hi there! I'm Jess - founder of Cook n Create. I have a lifetime of experience within the food industry but more specifically I have 11 years experience teaching kiddies to cook and to have fun with food and to shine and thrive!

P.S You aren't alone if you have eyelash envy when you look at Becky! Me tooo!

Okay.. so let's dive in...

Cooking with kids is WAAAAY more than cooking. Cooking with kids is about confidence, independence, skill building, friendship building. It’s about nurturing, empowering and fostering creativity – this mixing pot of awesomeness is the fuel behind Cook n Create – where we embrace the mess, the freedom and the excitement behind creating amazing things. We learn through fun – I say WE because these amazing kiddos teach me new things every day.. and not just how to floss or create unicorn hair!

Cooking sets children up with the life skills to be resilient and competent adults. At Cook n Create the fun is always the CORE of the learning. By making positive connections with every part of the experience from mixing, beating, cracking, rolling etc.. to munching – these kids are laying down foundations that will last them a lifetime – that’s just so extraordinary to be a part of.

Not only are you feeding their tummies – you are feeding their minds. They are learning, experimenting, building confidence and learning to make decisions and to trust themselves. They are empowered! Giving a child confidence and watching them thrive is just magical. The satisfaction and pride they feel every single session supports their self esteem and self belief.

I stumbled across this quote the other day and it encapsulates EVERYTHING about the magic of learning with food!

"Tell me and I'll forget, teach me and I'll remember but INVOLVE me - and I'll learn"

Children who cook show a huge preference to healthier food. Only 1% of children in Australia meet the daily recommended intake for veggies – Just by getting them involved in peeling and chopping and nibbling along the way – you are changing their entire life! Learning to cook can help children develop a passion for food and a willingness to try and explore new foods!

Cooking is also FULL of amazing learning opportunities that link to school learning! We always tie in science, maths, oracy, literacy – changing the context and applying it in a practical situation increases focus and attention and therefore understanding and learning!

...Back over to you Becky!

Do you remember the joy of being a child and scooping up mouthfuls of delicious raw and sugary cake mix? Then sitting patiently by the oven, smelling the homely aroma of freshly cooked cake, waiting for the timer to bing so you could devour it (if mum would let you!!) I remember. Such a simple pleasure and indelible memory.

I was surrounded by good food. My mum didn't love cooking but she did make really good cakes. My dad on the other hand, was a chef. A  good one and still my favourite chief cook today. I learnt a lot from him, my Nonna and my Auntie Carmela, all of them passing on favourite recipes and techniques from their heritage and childhoods. And that's the wonderful thing about cooking. It brings people together. It spans generations. It creates memories. It evokes memories. It's also a wonderful life skill which provides us a sense of purpose and promotes independence. Being an Occupational Therapist (OT) , I totally relate to this, as maximising an individual’s independence is at the heart of what us OT’s do!

Now let’s be honest here. We all know adults who hate cooking and you may even be one yourself! But what if we nurture the love of this life skill from a young age? What if we make it fun, creative and just a little bit messy? Believe me, it’s life-changing. We’re setting our children up for success in adulthood and hey, you might even get a delicious meal or two out of it. Added parenting bonus right there!!

I can relate to this first-hand because as well as being an OT, my husband and I also have two young children. Our 9 year-old daughter, Aurelia has Down syndrome and she has developed a huge love for cooking (it must be in her genes!). Thank goodness for Jess and her Cook n’ Create classes because she provides Aurelia the fun and safe space she needs to experiment and develop her cooking skills. In fact, if we really think about what a kitchen provides, it’s a key area for learning and development.

Perhaps your child needs to develop their dexterity and bilateral coordination. Motor skills enabling us to do such things as stirring, chopping, slicing and kneading can all help to achieve this goal.

Sensory processing can be a huge challenge for some children, so exposing them to food and textures they can touch, smell, taste and prepare with their own bare hands gives them control and ownership. There truly is a huge sense of achievement when they make something special they can take home and I know Aurelia is always proud as punch with what she makes in each class.

Cooking also allows children opportunities to work on maths, their attention and concentration, and executive functioning such as problem-solving, planning and organising. All cognitive skills that transfer into other areas of our lives and enable us to function as independent human beings.

Jess: "During my time as a classroom teacher I worked with many mainstream and special needs classes and guaranteed that all individuals, regardless of their experiences or abilities were happy and thriving in my classroom. These kiddies taught me a LOT about the type of teacher I wanted to be and how I wanted to support learning journeys and create adventures and let kids be kids and learn THEIR way! I have created my own classroom environment, but cherry picked all the BEST parts of the job I had – I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

When Cook n Create was born, I just couldn’t connect with how I had been describing my sessions.. workshops.. lessons.. those terms were too rigid. Too boxed. As awesome as they are – they didn’t capture the fun, the excitement the exhilaration that we experience. We stumbled upon ‘Cooking adventures for kids’ and -that was it!"

Cooking helps emotional and behavioural regulation

Becky: Let’s not forget the importance of emotional and behavioural regulation here either. Cooking in a group situation requires learning to share, taking turns and responding politely to requests. In her classes, Jess nurtures this environment so well, so children learn to interact, read interpersonal cues and execute appropriate behaviours. Commercial chefs are notorious for their crazy outbursts, so maybe they should also have a session or two with Jess?!!

In all seriousness though, as a parent and an OT, I could go on and on about the benefits of cooking and teaching our kids how to do it and love it from a young age. However the best way to learn is to give it a go, so whether that’s at home, in a classroom or both, I highly recommend experimenting and having fun doing so!!

We hope you have enjoyed this blog as much as we enjoyed writing it and feel as excited and inspired as us!

If you ever need a good read about how to help fussy eaters, why it's important to let your kiddies have fun and get messy with food, want to get some amazing recipes for kids, feel inspired, or you just want to have some fun – you know where to find us – come on an adventure!

Thanks SO much for reading! Stay safe out there!

Jess and Becky xxx

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