ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 4

Week 4 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Apr. 3, 2020.

Welcome to week 4 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a daily schedule of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, experiments, activities, and quizzes. Many of us have been home from work and school for nearly a month. How are you holding up? Is there anything you’d like to see in future weeks of Kitchen Classroom? Let us know. 

This week, we’re starting off with some simple science experiments using bubbly seltzer water. Let the kids take charge of dinner by making Meatballs using our recipe specially designed for 5- to 8-year-olds, but delicious for young chefs of all ages! We’ve also got a creative, colorful, and salty art activity; easy (and gluten-free) Peanut Butter Cookies; and a foolproof recipe for hard-cooked eggs (just in time for Easter). Finally, mix up a big batch of DIY Pancake Mix for family brunch this weekend (and next week’s breakfasts, too). 

Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #atkkids on Instagram, or by sending us photos And check out the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content, designed especially for kids, plus all of the Kitchen Classroom content in one place. 

Here’s what’s cooking for the week of April 6th through 12th.  

What Makes Fizzy Drinks Fizzy?Meatballs
From left: What Makes Fizzy Drinks Fizzy?, Meatballs

Monday, April 6 — What Makes Fizzy Drinks Fizzy?

How do all those bubbles get into fizzy beverages, such as seltzer and soda? Kids learn the answer in this simple and surprising science experiment: Drop a raisin and a marble into two glasses of seltzer water and observe the ensuing bubbliness. Be sure to check out the bonus experiment under “Food for Thought” at the bottom of the page, where kids can learn how temperature affects the bubbles in beverages (and maybe get wet in the process). 

What You’ll Need
3 cups (24 ounces) plain seltzer, chilled
2 raisins or dried cranberries
1 marble or ball bearing

Learning Moments
Science (scientific practices):
As kids work through this experiment, pause on a few key moments in the scientific process. (1) Making predictions: Encourage kids to predict what they think will happen when they drop the raisin and marble into their respective glasses, and also to explain why they think so. This will help kids articulate their thinking, and also let you learn what prior knowledge they have. (2) Repeating tests: Ask kids why they think it’s important to repeat dropping the marble and raisin at least two times. Explain that scientists repeat their experiments to validate and verify their data—observing whether they get the same results each time.

Science (chemistry):
After they complete the experiment, kids will learn about the chemistry behind how dissolved carbon dioxide gas transforms into the bubbles in their beverages in our age-appropriate explainer (there’s even a Superman metaphor to help drive home the point).


Tuesday, April 7 — Meatballs

We’ve got you covered for dinner tonight: Try this pared-down meatball recipe designed for young chefs ages 5 to 8 (but delicious for all ages). Kids can get their hands messy shaping and rolling the meatballs, which are then cooked directly in the tomato sauce (no frying!). We love serving them with spaghetti (this makes enough to sauce 12 ounces of pasta), as meatball subs, or just on their own.

What You’ll Need
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup milk
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Learning Moments
Math (addition and subtraction):
While your meatballs are simmering in the sauce, have kids tackle a few meaty math problems:

  • If your family starts dinner with 12 meatballs and each person eats 2 meatballs for dinner, how many meatballs are left?
  • If you are serving meatballs to 4 people and each person wants 3 meatballs, how many meatballs do you need to make?
  • Your recipe makes 12 meatballs. If you want to save half of the meatballs for tomorrow, how many meatballs can you eat right now?

Language Arts (reading):
If you have a copy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, read it with your young chef (or have them read it to you!) while the meatballs are cooking or after you make this recipe. Ask kids: What would you do if it started raining meatballs in our neighborhood? What food would you like to see come down from the sky instead of rain? Why? How many different kinds of weather can you think of?


Salt ArtAfter-School Peanut Butter Cookies
From left: Salt Art, After-School Peanut Butter Cookies

Wednesday, April 8 — Salt Art

Let kids get creative in the kitchen with this colorful art activity. Using glue, kosher salt, and watercolor paints, kids can make beautiful pictures and designs—and learn about the science of salt at the same time!

What You’ll Need
1 cup kosher salt
White glue
Watercolor paints
Watercolor paper or card stock

Learning Moment
Art (Color and color mixing):
This activity uses a novel technique: Instead of moving their paintbrush to apply color to the salt, kids just touch the wet brush to the salt and the color moves along the salt. Encourage kids to try creating new colors by touching two colors of paint about half an inch apart on the salt—where the two colors meet and blend, a third color forms! Ask kids to predict what new color will form each time they try mixing two different colors. How many different colors can they make on their salt art picture?

Science (chemistry):
As they make their salt art, ask kids why they think the watercolor paint colors the salt instead of the paper? Explain that it’s due to the fact that salt is hygroscopic (“hi-grow-SKAH-pick”). That means it’s REALLY good at absorbing water from its surroundings. Have kids drip some water onto the extra kosher salt leftover over from making their salt art. The salt should absorb the water almost instantly.


Thursday, April 9 — After–School Peanut Butter Cookies

These four-ingredient, naturally gluten-free cookies come together in just 30 minutes and use ingredients you likely have in your pantry or refrigerator. No M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces? Swap in an equal amount of chocolate chips or even chopped bar chocolate instead.  

What You’ll Need
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces, or 12 Hershey’s Kisses

Learning Moment
Math (division):
If using M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces, have kids count the number of candies in ¼ cup and divide that number by 12 (the number of cookies). This will tell them how many candies they should press into each cookie so that the candies are evenly distributed.

Science (biology) & Social Studies (history):
While their cookies bake (don’t forget to set a timer), kids can learn all about peanuts and peanut butter—from what is a peanut (a legume!) to the myriad uses for the peanut developed by George Washington Carver to the science behind peanut allergies—through the videos in this PBS article.


Hard-Cooked EggsDIY Pancake Mix
From left: Hard-Cooked Eggs, DIY Pancake Mix

Friday, April 10 — Hard-Cooked Eggs

Whether you’re planning to dye them for Easter, turn them into deviled eggs or egg salad, or just eat them for breakfast or a snack, knowing how to hard-cook an egg is a key kitchen skill. And this foolproof recipe makes it easy and accessible for kids. We don’t call them hard-boiled eggs because we don’t actually boil the eggs—we steam them. This gives us more even cooking, and more consistent results whether you’re cooking one egg or half a dozen.    

What You’ll Need
1 to 6 eggs

Learning Moment
Science (biology):
Use this recipe as a springboard for some eggsploration. The eggs we eat are typically laid by chickens, but all birds lay eggs, from tiny hummingbirds to giant ostriches. Kids can observe different birds’ eggs (and their adorable chicks) via the free, live bird cams hosted by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. What do they notice about the eggs’ colors, shapes, and sizes? What materials are the nests made from? Kids can even make their own bird’s nests from materials they find outside (or even craft materials)—have them look at photographs of real birds’ nests for inspiration.


Saturday & Sunday, April 11 - 12 — DIY Pancake Mix

Spend a few minutes whipping up a batch of this make-ahead mix and you’ll be minutes away from fluffy pancakes whenever the mood strikes. (We are firm believers in breakfast for dinner!) Stored in an airtight container, the bulk mix is enough to make seven batches of six pancakes. 

What You’ll Need for the Bulk Mix
6 cups (30 ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
¼ cup baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon salt

For One Batch of Pancakes
¾ cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup DIY Pancake Mix pancake mix
Vegetable oil spray

Learning Moment
Math (Fractions, division):
Have kids calculate (or use a dry measuring cup to measure) how many cups of bulk pancake mix this recipe makes. (Helpful hints: There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon and there are 16 tablespoons in 1 cup.)

Then, help kids figure out how many individual pancakes they could make from this bulk mix. They need 1 cup of mix per batch of pancakes and each batch makes 6 pancakes. (Answer: 42 pancakes)


The Young Chefs' Club

On sale until April 30, 2020, the May edition of the Young Chefs' Club subscription box is all about VEGETABLES! From recipes that highlight the savory (and sweet) sides of veggies to activities where kids can grow (and regrow) their own veggies to a fun "Veggie Match" card game for the whole family, this box will help kids look at—and eat!—their vegetables in new ways.   
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