Fun for the Little Kids
The Big Bang
It's practically a rite of passage: the baby on the floor pulling all the pots and pans out of the cupboard. Silence your inner control freak! Hand him a wooden spoon, and let him bang to his heart's content. Cook to the beat, and when it's cleanup time, help him sort by size, match lids to pots, and put everything back where it belongs.
Go Dough Nuts
While you're making a homemade piecrust, bread, or cookies, tear off a small piece of dough and give it to your kid to squish around or pat into her own pretend pie. Even if you're not much of a baker, why not keep a roll of store-bought dough in the fridge -- your child will enjoy creating play pastries and pizzas while you're busy getting real dinner ready.
Set your child up at the sink so he can fill and empty different-size plastic containers -- he'll be learning about the concept of volume. Add small objects like measuring spoons and rubber spatulas so he can guess: float or sink? Squirt in a little dish soap and get scientific: Why do bubbles float? How long will it take before they pop?
Pour room-temperature heavy cream into a small plastic tub, leaving it about 1/3 empty. Take turns shaking the container. When you no longer hear a swishing sound, let your child have a peek -- you've made whipped cream! (A small taste is in order.) Shake some more, wait for a thudlike sound -- and voila: a hunk of butter! It will be surrounded by some sour liquid -- buttermilk. After you and your kid are done being amazed, rinse the butter in cold water to get rid of the buttermilk. Then it's ready to eat.