ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom 2021: Week 3

Resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Jan. 15, 2021.

Welcome to week 3 of Kitchen Classroom 2021, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly list of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen.

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This week, kids can turn the kitchen into their own pizzeria as they take orders for Personal Pizzas for family dinner; discover what gives sweet and gooey Cinnamon Rolls their distinctive flavor and aroma in a weekend baking project; stir together a batch of easy Cranberry-Almond No-Bake Energy Bites and wax poetic about them by writing an original acrostic poem; and put their senses to the test with The Nose Knows, an activity that explores the relationship between taste, smell, and flavor.

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

Here’s what’s cooking for the week of January 18h through 24th, 2021.

From left: Personal Pizzas, Cinnamon Rolls

Kids Cook Dinner: Personal Pizzas

Young chefs can turn the kitchen into a pizza parlor as they prepare dinner for the whole family! Everyone will get to choose their favorite toppings for a personal pizza as kids practice making combinations. Kids can choose to make their dough and/or pizza sauce from scratch or use store-bought.

What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
1 pound pizza dough, room temperature (click here for our Pizza Dough recipe or use store-bought)
All-­purpose flour (for sprinkling on counter)
½ cup pizza sauce (click here for our Easy Pizza Sauce recipe or use store-bought)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (½ ounce)
Toppings (see the “Food For Thought” section at the bottom of the recipe page for ideas)

Learning Moment 
Math (Combinations): 
Before they start cooking, have kids look in the fridge and pantry to see what ingredients are available to use as pizza toppings. These could be vegetables, herbs, meats, cheeses, or condiments (see the “Food For Thought” section at the bottom of the recipe page for which toppings to add before baking and which to add after). Once they know the topping options available, have kids write up a menu for family members to choose their pizzas from. 

Encourage kids to come up with names for pizzas with particular combinations of toppings (for example, pineapple and bacon could be called “Tropical Getaway,” or sausage, peppers, and onions could be called “Fenway Park”). As they prepare the pizzas, kids can write down everyone’s orders, so each family member gets just the toppings they want. And remember: less is more! Loading up a pizza with too many toppings can make it soggy.

As their pizzas bake and cool, challenge kids to solve a math problem: Have kids imagine that they made two different kinds of sauce for their pizzas: a red sauce with tomatoes and white sauce with cheese. Based on the number of toppings available on their menu, can kids figure out how many different pizzas they could make with 1 topping each? Kids can create a chart like the one below to figure it out, filling in their toppings in the left-hand column and the two sauce options in the top row:

  Red Sauce White Sauce
Pepperoni Pepperoni-Red Sauce Pepperoni-White Sauce
Mushrooms Mushrooms-Red Sauce Mushrooms-White Sauce
Feta Cheese Feta Cheese-Red Sauce Feta Cheese-White Sauce
Red Peppers Red Peppers-Red Sauce Red Peppers-White Sauce


In this case, there were 2 sauces and 4 topping choices, which make 8 different pizza combinations. Share with kids that if you multiply the number of sauces by the number of toppings, you can find the answer without making a chart (2 x 4 = 8). How many combinations are possible if they added a third sauce option?

Weekend Project: Cinnamon Rolls

Spend a morning or afternoon making a batch of these sweet, soft, and gooey Cinnamon Rolls. While their rolls are baking, kids can try a simple science experiment to discover why cinnamon-y treats smell so deliciously fragrant when they’re warm. 

What You’ll Need
For the Dough
2¼ cups (11¼ ounces) all-­purpose flour, plus extra for counter
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
½ cup (4 ounces) room-­temperature water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1 large egg
Vegetable oil spray

For the Filling
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt

For the Glaze (optional)
½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons milk

Learning Moment 
Physical Science (Structure and Properties of Matter): 
As their Cinnamon Rolls bake, kids might notice that their kitchen, and maybe even other rooms of their home, smell like cinnamon. They can try a simple science experiment to discover how heat affects cinnamon’s smell.

  • Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons water to a small bowl. Use a spoon to stir until the cinnamon and water are thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  • Add another ½ teaspoon cinnamon and another 2 tablespoons water to a second small, microwave-safe bowl. Use a spoon to stir until cinnamon and water are thoroughly combined. Heat the bowl in the microwave until steaming, about 15 seconds. 
  • Hold the room-temperature cinnamon-water mixture up below your nose. Breathe in and out slowly through your nose as you smell the mixture. Set the bowl aside.
  • Give your nose a break by taking three deep breaths, in and out of your nose.
  • Hold the hot cinnamon-water mixture up below your nose. Breathe in and out slowly through your nose as you smell the mixture. Does it smell similar to or different from the room temperature cinnamon-water mixture? How so? 
  • Does one mixture smell stronger than the other? Which one? 

Kids will likely notice that the hot cinnamon-water mixture has a much stronger smell (or aroma) than the room-temperature cinnamon-water mixture, just as hot cinnamon-flavored baked goods tend to smell stronger than room-temperature ones. Most of a spice’s flavor comes from its aroma—it’s smell. (Flavor is a combination of what we taste AND what we smell; check out this week’s Kitchen STEAM Lab activity below for more on this!) Our noses detect tiny aroma molecules that spices release into the air. Spices are packed with aroma molecules, which is why just a little bit of spice gives you a lot of flavor! 

As the cinnamon heats up, more and more of those tiny aroma molecules are released into the air, which is what makes the hot cinnamon-water mixture smell much stronger than the room-temperature version. And that’s also why your house smells so delicious as your Cinnamon Rolls bake—the hot oven encourages some of the cinnamon’s aroma molecules to evaporate into the air and make their way into your nose.

From left: Cranberry-Almond No-Bake Energy Bites, The Nose Knows

Cooking For You: Cranberry-Almond No-Bake Energy Bites

These energy-packed snacks are easy enough for kids to make on their own with basic pantry ingredients. They can be enjoyed right away or kept in the fridge to fuel learning or play throughout the week. You can swap in other types of nuts, dried fruit, or other stir-ins to this recipe; see the “Food For Thought” section at the bottom of the recipe page for our Chocolate-Raisin and Blueberry-Coconut flavor variations. 

What You’ll Need
¾ cup (2¼ ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
⅓ cup peanut, almond, or sunflower butter
⅓ cup sliced almonds
⅓ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons honey
⅛ teaspoon salt

Learning Moment 
Language Arts (Poetry):
As the energy bites chill in step 3, ask kids: Why do you think this recipe is called “energy bites”? Explain that energy for our bodies comes from frood, and different types of food can give you different types of energy. Sweet foods such as cookies and candy give you a lot of energy, and fast—but that energy lasts for only a little bit of time, since sugar moves quickly through your body. But foods that combine complex carbohydrates (oats!), protein (nut butters!), and fiber (oats and nut butters!), as well as some sugar, like these energy bites, give you longer-lasting energy. 

Challenge your young chef to write an acrostic poem using the word “energy.” In acrostic poems, the first letter of each line spells out a word or phrase (in this case, “energy”). Acrostic poems do not need to rhyme, and the lines can be as long or short as your young chef would like. They can write about how the energy bites taste, what they look like, how they are made, or times when they have the most energy. Here is an example:

Easy to make
Nutritious fuel for
Everyday activities or 
Running a mile
Going to make a double batch

Kitchen STEAM Lab: The Nose Knows

Discover the powerful connection between your sense of smell and your perception of food’s flavor in this simple science experiment. All you need is a small bowl, a blindfold, and a bag of jelly beans. One pro tip: When the America’s Test Kitchen Kids team tested this experiment, we found the best results with the intense flavors of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans, but other brands will work, too.

What You’ll Need
1 bag jelly beans (preferably Jelly Belly brand)

Learning Moment 
Life Science (Senses):
Before starting this activity, ask kids: Can you name the five senses? (Answer: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.) Which senses do kids think are involved when we are eating food, and how we perceive flavor?

After completing the activity, explain to kids that our sense of smell plays a bigger role in how we experience the flavor of food than most of us—both kids and grown-ups—typically realize. The tastebuds in our mouths can only pick up on the five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. All of the other aspects of food’s flavor, such as fruity, buttery, nutty, floral, or chocolaty flavors, come from our sense of smell! The “Food for Thought” section at the bottom of the experiment page breaks down this fascinating sensory science (the study of our five senses) for kids.

On sale through January 31st, the February edition of the Young Chefs’ Club brings the delights of a diner breakfast into your home kitchen. This month’s diner-ific recipes include DIY Breakfast Sausage, Breakfast Sandwiches, and Lemon Buttermilk Flapjacks, inspired by the Palace Diner in Biddeford, Maine. Kids can also discover how egg whites and egg yolks cook differently in a simple experiment, learn three ways to cook bacon, practice making fresh orange juice, and tackle this month’s Make It Your Way Challenge: Omelets! Finally, they’ll create their dream diner using our colorable, creative poster.   
Learn More

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