Holiday Cooking Lessons

Spice up lessons with seasonal recipes and cooking.

By Andrea Ferrero


Part of enjoying and sharing the holiday season with others comes in the form of tasty treats and delectable dishes. Cooking and working with recipes gives students the chance to connect to content and apply skills; while keeping with the spirit of the holidays. Through cooking, students use math skills such as reasoning and estimating, and can also share their family culture and personal expertise. 

Chef Hats

In order to let students really step into the role of a chef, I like to incorporate cooking into the classroom curriculum by creating chef hats. Each student needs a white sentence strip and a white plastic bag (a grocery bag size without emblems is best). Use a stapler to first turn the sentence strip into a hat-band (contoured to fit the size of each child’s head). Next, push the plastic bag upwards through the “hat-band” and staple it into place so that it resembles the shape of a chef hat. Students can write their name on the sentence strip. My students enjoyed writing Chef ________. 

No-Bake Recipes

With many small bodies eager to get their hands moving, cooking in the classroom can sometimes seem a daunting, or needlessly labor-intensive task. However, there are many simple recipes to help ease into cooking in the classroom. Some of my favorite recipes to use with kids are no-bake snacks and treats. My students always enjoy dipping pretzels; we were able to use white chocolate, but other dipping options can be used to meet wellness expectations and mandates. To begin, I pre-melted white chocolate chips in small dishes for easy student access. Each group of students were given a dish with white melted chocolate, and a dish of white melted chocolate colored with red and green food coloring. Using rod pretzels, they dipped and covered half the pretzel in white chocolate then set it on wax paper to harden. Then, they dipped round pretzels in the green colored white chocolate and used a toothpick to add red drops of food coloring, creating an edible wreath. As the wreaths hardened on wax paper, students returned to their dipped pretzel rods and used the colored chocolate to create either a snowman or peppermint stick out of their pretzel rod. When finished, we bagged our creations. Students could give them to parents as gifts or eat them at home.

Creating a Class Cookbook

Each year, I debate over what optional activities to incorporate so students can create gifts for their parents and guardians. One of my colleagues introduced the idea of a holiday cookbook, and I decided to try it out. My students and I loved creating them, and they make memorable and useful gifts for families as well. I began by asking each student to bring in a holiday recipe their family would like to share with the class. Next, I had my students create their own version of the recipe, allowing them to write down the ingredients and steps they believe it takes to create it. Finally, I have my students draw a picture of the finished dish. I would then create a page for each child, sharing the recipe from the family on one side and the child’s version and illustration on the other. All the pages were formed into a bound class book, and a copy given out to each family for the holidays.

Cooking Lessons:

What’s Your Favorite Food? 

Using their favorite foods as inspiration, students creatively craft recipes for a variety of dishes.

Stir Up a Character Analysis Recipe

Students use recipes as a foundational medium to analyze characters. Using the formatting of a recipe (ingredients and steps) students create a “recipe” depicting a character or historical figure.

Recipe for Success 

This cooking lesson moves students through the full process of cooking from researching and finding a recipe, modifying it if needed, and then preparing and sharing the finished dish. It includes a list of resources to explore historical Thanksgiving dishes, but can be used year round.