The set up.
Spooning ingredients into the mini-pitcher.
Note the cool blue concoction on the right with the pastry brush.
Time lapse, probably 15 minutes later.
I'll just use my shirt here to wipe my hands.
What an amazingly good time! Pretend cooking with real food is fantastic fun for little ones. My son is 35 months now and has cooked quite a bit with me over the last year or so and enjoys it from time to time, but it is fair to say he enjoyed this way more. No need for exact measurements. No waiting for mommy. Touching and spilling allowed- cool!
I set up the table with various containers, utensils, and cups. Then I added water to little cups. The mini-pitcher contained just plain, clear water and the measuring cup had water with some blue food coloring added. I chose lentils, oats, and flour for the ingredients, as I wanted the textures and colors to vary, and how water would effect them (would it dissolve, make paste/mush, etc.).
Nick poured, dumped, scooped, whisked, measured, and transferred all morning long, and kept asking me for more water and ingredients. I would do it again in a heartbeat. This is a gloriously messy good time. It is a guaranteed success: your child will love it. To ensure that you love it too, here are a few hints based on what I have learned. Pick a day (and time of day) when you don't mind your child, and most likely your kitchen, getting a little dirty. The hardest thing to clean is the flour and water combo (makes a goop-y paste) and the flour makes dust too, so if that is hindering you, choose dry beans or peas (or something else), they will be far easier to clean. Another thing that helped me too, is keeping an eye out for boredom and/or overstimulation. I have found out this is when the biggest messes are made and materials are flicked, flung, thrown, and momma gets frustrated/mad. It took about two messy activities for this to sink in, and now whenever I see a hint of boredom setting in, I announce "two more minutes" and then close shop. He has fun, and I do too, without the titanic mess and me getting angry. So, I hope that helps you try the activity with your tot, and not regret trying it in the end.