If you can’t stand the heat…get into the Children’s Museum’s new teaching kitchen this summer!
It’s no secret that nutrition and fitness are essential tools that help build healthy and well-rounded children. The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire is thrilled to open a brand-new exhibit, the Let’s Get Cooking Lab, dedicated to teaching those lessons.
This is no pretend kitchen. In the Let’s Get Cooking Lab, kids and their grownups will have the opportunity to learn about chopping, shredding, blending, cooking, baking, and most importantly, EATING. Our hands-on kitchen will allow kids to cook real food, using real cooking tools, and prepare it in our real test kitchen.
We’ve seen children as old as 10 who have never experienced using a kitchen knife before; kids who have never built their own sandwich. Our hope is that children will develop the self-confidence to create their own snacks at home, and that their grown-ups will encourage them to be great helpers in the kitchen!
It can be hard to get kiddos to eat healthy. Studies show that letting the little ones get involved in the preparation of snacks and meals can weaken the fight against those dreaded vegetable monsters. We’re excited to teach kids about different kinds of healthy foods and why trying something new can lead to new favorites!
Weekly programming is already underway using the new kitchen. Once a week, kids are invited to our “Let’s Get Cooking” session, a drop-in class where they can learn how to create delicious treats made from ingredients found in your very own kitchens. Recipes for snacks like pizza crackers allow kids to engage in a variety of cooking skills, including cutting tomatoes, grating and measuring cheese, watching the cooking process inside the oven, and – best of all – taste-testing their creations!
This summer, in conjunction with Mayo Clinic Health System, the Children’s Museum will also host two summer camps to get kids prepping, creating, and cooking in the new kitchen. The Kid Chefs and Kid Chefs Jr. camps sold out in the beginning of spring, but if you’re still interested in getting your kiddos signed up, give the museum a call at (715) 832-5437 and get on the waiting list.
The Let’s Get Cooking Lab is located up on the second floor of the museum, right next to the big tractor and Miss Cathy’s Barn. Guests are greeted with a bright mural of a food truck and farmer’s market stand, emphasizing the different places families can buy and enjoy fresh food. It also serves as a visual reminder that your plate at the dinner table first starts at the farm! We encourage families to use the space to talk to their children about how foods grow, who grows them, and how they get to us.
The kitchen can seat as many as 18 people and doubles as a location for families to enjoy their own light snacks or picnic lunches while visiting the museum.
Financial support to make the Let’s Get Cooking Lab happen came from a Mayo Clinic Health System Hometown Health Grant, Scheels, Nordson Corporation Foundation, William and Gertrude Casper Foundation, Women’s Giving Circle of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, and the Eau Claire Community Foundation. Hoeft Builders provided construction management services for the new space.
Completion of the new space is phase one of the new “Eat! Move! Live!” exhibit on the second floor of the Children’s Museum. Phase two, the fabrication of “Rocket Park,” is expected to be finished by the end of 2019. Phase three, the “Shape Up” fitness trail, will be completed in the new children’s museum building.
Amie Winters is director of marketing and events at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, a community partner of Chippewa Valley Family magazine.