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Make Thanksgiving about the family

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By Roberta Hunt

Thanksgiving can be a positive time of year, when families enjoy being together and sharing quality time.  

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the coming holiday season though, the opportunity of taking the time to do things as a family is passed by.  

Since the holidays are times we think of baking, consider spending time cooking together as a family. Especially when it is too cold to play outside, it is time to get creative inside.

A great way to engage children is to help them cook something warm and cozy in the kitchen.

Cooking is especially enjoyable for children because it requires using all five senses.

They see the foods and prepare them with their own hands. They can hear foods popping or sizzling in the pan and smell the aromas. Finally, the best part is they get to taste their finished product.

Cooking provides new and challenging tasks that are not too difficult for a child to accomplish under the correct supervision.

Cooking activities help build both fine and gross motor skills.

Whisking, cutting or measuring with teaspoons and tablespoons gives practice to wrist and finger muscles. Stirring, pouring and ladling uses shoulder and arm muscles associated with gross motor skills.

Parents should stay close and gently guide children in the process.

Food preparation also requires math and science skills.

Children can practice simple math by learning about amounts and measurements and the concepts of more and less. They can hypothesize about what might happen next when a recipe gets changed.

They also have a front row seat to watch changes as they occur.

A special learning benefit is to encourage tasting new and different foods.

Children may be more inclined to try a greater variety of foods if they are actively involved in preparing it.

Children of almost any age can help in the kitchen. Sharp knives should not be used, but a plastic, serrated knife may be safe. Ovens and electric burners should never be used without adult supervision.

Take time to talk with children about hot appliances, such as when they should and should not be used and how long they stay hot after being turned off.

Cooking also is a good opportunity for children to practice safeguards, such as health, safety and cleanliness.

For more information, contact the Washington Co. Cooperative Extension Service at 336-7741.

Upcoming 4-H project club meetings include the 4-H Hooves and Horns Livestock Club.  Don’t forget for those that are interested in joining in the first Washington Co. 4-H Country Ham project in our new ham house, the deadline is Dec. 2.  

The Hooves and Horns 4-H Club will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2 at one of the club members’ homes, so any new members wishing to join should contact the Extension Office at 336-7741 for complete information and directions.  

Country ham contracts are also available from the Extension Office.  

The 4-H Young Riders will be doing horse and pony rides for Dickens Christmas in Lebanon on Dec. 6 and participating in the Willisburg parade on Dec. 7.   For more information on joining the 4-H Young Riders, contact the Extension Office.

The 4-H Spurs and Furs will be selling candles for a fundraiser from now through the winter. 

They will also be set up at the Winter Fest at North Washington Elementary on Dec. 6.

The final meeting for Washington County youth to sign up for the 4-H Sharpshooters Club will be on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m. at the Extension Office.  

For youth that have not completed a 4-H enrollment form for the school year, the deadline is Dec. 20 at the Extension Office.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.