Dads & Kids in the Kitchen

One often thinks of moms in the kitchen, but as more fathers take active, hands-on roles in their children’s lives, this necessary life skill can become a teachable experience everyone can enjoy. Cooking is a wonderful activity for fathers to do with their children because it can be fun, messy, educational, and experimental while creating meaningful memories. And now that the hectic holiday season is upon us, it’s a perfect time to ask Dad to help the kids prepare everyday meals and do some holiday baking.

Here are some ideas to get started: offers a wide selection of recipes that kids will enjoy making and eating, including recipes for kids with special dietary needs.

Dads and kids may learn some skills and/or be inspired to become more adventurous cooks by watching episodes of “Masterchef Junior.”

And here’s a recipe for a baked goodie I made for Papa every Thanksgiving:

 cranberry pictureCranberry Bog Bread

Cranberries are the fruit of a trailing evergreen bush or shrub that grows in bogs. Papa liked their tangy flavor that is enhanced in this recipe that uses the whole berry. The beautiful color of the whole berries, look like jewels decorating each slice. (Makes 1 loaf.)


  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup oat bran
  • 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (such as Xylitol)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)


Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 1 loaf pan.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda) together thoroughly. Mix together egg, orange juice, oil, and grated orange rind. Add orange juice mixture to flour mixture until just combined – do not over mix. Fold in cranberries and nuts (if desired).

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake approximately 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack. When completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve. This bread also freezes well.

Don’t forget that the most important ingredient you need when cooking with kids is patience. That and practicing kitchen safety will result in good food and good times.

Help Dad Maintain the Family Car

My father, being a plumber, was always very handy at fixing things from a leaky faucet to installing bookshelves. He also maintained the family car. I would stand in the driveway and watch intently to see how he did it and what tools he used. He patiently explained each step and told me the name of the tools he used. Then, as he tinkered under the hood, he relied on me to hand him the tools he needed. I have very fond memories of this process, and I learned a great deal about the car and how to maintain it. Why not take a few moments to raise the hood of the car to give your kids an impromptu lesson in automobile mechanics and maintenance – an important safety practice that will serve them well when they’re old enough to drive.

Here are a few resources to learn more about how your car works and what is needed to maintain it:

This website explains all the parts of a car with pictures

carschooling-3dLearn how to maintain your car

Read How Cars Work (a book written for teens):

Fathers and kids will enjoy my book, Carschooling, Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time that has a great section on “Service Station Science” on pages 46-51.

Even if you go to a quick-service place like Jiffy Lube, take your child with you. Pick a time that isn’t too busy and ask the attendant to explain the meaning and use of things like coolant, brake fluid, and what grade of oil your car takes. Make a guessing game of it and have fun!

Take A Hike!

Papa was an avid walker. As a child, I loved to accompany him because he would always take time to smell the roses…literally. He’d pause to admire plants in bloom and pointed out what was new or interesting in the environment.

hachiya persimmonsWhen you go for a walk with your children notice the trees, plants, animals, birds, and insects around you. Bring a nature guide to help you identify what flora and fauna you see. (You can access a free online nature guide with your mobile phone.)

Don’t forget to look upward into the trees, skyline, or clouds, too.

Of course, just quietly walking without purpose is a meaningful bonding activity that can be truly relaxing for both parent and child.

Here are some nature guide books for families that I recommend. (I’ve provided my affiliate link. If you follow the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission from Amazon – thanks for your support!)