The sun rises and it is time to have breakfast. But before eating, we have to make it. Apron on, our little cook gets down to work. Bread, butter, jam, milk… Each ingredient goes from cupboard to table. As we open the book’s pages, we observe how skilfully the little girl cooks her succulent recipe step by step. Pre-readers will nonetheless read this book over and over again. It is also an invitation for the little ones to playfully take their first steps in the kitchen and to gain autonomy.
You can definitely play with food! Is that not what big chefs of all ages are up to? Using good ingredients, doing things calmly, acquiring new skills, and, most of all, enjoying the results. Making breakfast is a daily activity for any child to enjoy. As simple as it seems, it offers complex and valuable learning experiences, ranging from the acquisition of motor activities (such as opening lids, spreading, or pouring) to the development of narrative skills (such as sequencing, describing actions, establishing causal relationships). All of these are fundamental to the processes of learning how to read and how to write. Watching someone doing something is a good way to learn, yet we don’t really grasp something until we become able to explain how it works. That happens when children play. Through play cooking, the child will reproduce what they have seen adults do and the steps taken to make lunch will then be imitated by the little one.
The search for a child’s autonomy is one of the cornerstones on which Early Childhood Education, from nursery school up to high school, is based. Autonomy in the course of life means many things, from the simplest to the most complex: from getting dressed, to reading, to preparing breakfast. Building autonomy means having faith in the abilities of children and above all taking into account the error, the doubt, and also the frustration of failing. The attempts are an important moment and facing the transition from "I don't know" to "I'm capable of” is an adventure that involves us the adults, too.
From Ediciones Modernas el Embudo comes a series of books to talk about some of these first steps: Ya sé vestirme sola (I know how to get dressed), Ya sé prepararme el desayuno (I know how to make breakfast) and soon Ya sé sacar de paseo al perro (I know how to take the dog out). Three starter basic themes: body, food, and the environment. The “Ya sé” collection will grow, even more, thanks to the expert hands of Elena Odriozola, author and illustrator of the three volumes.