The kitchen is one of the most educational rooms in the house. From science to math, all sorts of fun learning experiments can take place using simple ingredients and gadgets. But the learning isn’t limited to just these two subjects. In fact, la cocina can play a powerful role in teaching your child about his or her heritage, and you can use cooking to reinforce writing skills.

Elementary-aged kids can develop letter recognition and writing skills while spending time in the kitchen. So we’ve compiled a great list of kitchen-based activities to get you started.

The phrase,“playing with your food” takes on new meaning! Beginning readers and spellers are especially fascinated by edible letters and words. So alphabet soups are great for teaching letter recognition, and are also a fun way to motivate reluctant spellers. Use games to encourage learning. For example, to teach letter recognition, you might ask your child to:

  • Eat all the letter Gs that she can find.
  • Separate all the letters that look the same backwards and forwards.
  • Gather all the letters that make the ah sound.
  • Eat only letters that have straight lines (or curves, or both!).

Ask older children to:

  • Spell a three-letter word.
  • Make a word that is spelled the same backwards and forwards (i.e., mom, madam, etc.).
  • Spell a word that means the opposite of cold.

There are not many things more enjoyable than play dough, and it’s easy to make! Use simple recipes to make your own (or use bread dough), and have your preschooler or kindergartner build their own letters. Asking your child to “draw” letters this way ensures that your child recognizes the shapes unique to each one.

Read Related: Exploring Geography & Culture with Food & Recipes

Actually, you could use any powdery/grainy substance including sugar, rice, and even Tang. Pour it into a small tray or casserole dish until it is about a ½ to an inch thick. Then show your child a letter and ask her to reproduce it using one or two fingers. The image is easily erased by simply shaking the container slightly to resettle the contents.

Take advantage of special occasions to help your child master spelling and cursive writing. Baking cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, spring, Mondays, or any event for that matter, is fun for everyone involved. But while decorating the cake top, ask your child to write out the message such as: Happy Birthday, Dad! or Happy 50th Anniversary, Abuelo y Abuela.

For older children, copying recipes into a blank cookbook or recipe card collection is a really great way to let them practice their writing skills. Make it special by using decorated recipe cards. You might even make it a weekly tradition. For example, every Sunday afternoon, you and your daughter go through your favorite recipe magazines and cookbooks and carefully copy down your favorites. You can even have her interview family members for their favorite recipes and put them together in a cookbook, making extra hand-written copies to give as holiday gifts.

Happy edible learning!