Making pizza with kids is not only a delightful (and sometimes messy) culinary adventure, but also an excellent opportunity to impart valuable skills and lessons. From following instructions to learning about nutrition and even exploring the science behind food, pizza-making offers a range of educational benefits.
Read on for more perks, ways to get the kids involved and tips for pleasing even the fussiest eaters.
They'll learn how to follow instructions (no, really)
Pizza-making is great practice for kids learning how to follow instructions, focus and concentrate on a task, like chopping veggies (and they may even want to eat them after all that work!). Well-written recipes introduce techniques and provide a clear, sequential road map to success. They also provide a practical (and tasty) way for children to develop math skills. From measuring ingredients to counting out toppings, kids can learn about fractions and practice addition and multiplication when adjusting recipe quantities.
Teamwork makes the dream (pizza) work:
Slinging pies is a great hands-on way for kids to learn how to mix ingredients, knead dough and use tools (there are plenty available for youngsters), all of which build confidence in the kitchen. It’s also a fun group activity, encouraging teamwork and effective communication among kids of all ages. They learn to cooperate, assign tasks and work together towards a common goal (pizza party, anyone?) that can be enjoyed and shared, slice after delicious slice.
How to choose their own dinner adventure:
One of the more challenging aspects when it comes to pizza (or any meal, really) can be getting kids to experiment with new toppings. But sometimes, when kids are in control, they actually feel empowered to try new things. A framework (a themed pie), challenge (combining two toppings you wouldn’t normally pair), or friendly competition (make the best pizza face) can encourage kids to get creative, offering the chance to explore new flavours and develop their imaginations. (They may even want to film the process, like these little pizzaiolos.) Of course, everyone is different; not all kids will go for an Herby Salad Pizza, for example, and some may be resistant to anything new. Still, at the very least, cooking teaches the importance of organization, cleaning up, and following safety precautions.
The science of ‘za:
Food science may go over toddlers’ heads, but older kids can get a lot out of the more complex aspects of food prep and cooking. Take the chemistry of dough rising due to yeast fermentation, for example, or the principles of heat transfer with conduction, convection and radiation. Pizza prep is also an opportunity to talk about the nutritional value of ingredients, the importance of a balanced diet, and how to eat healthier…or at least in moderation. (We’ve got plenty of vegetarian and vegan pies, like Diaspora Co.’s Paneer Tikka Pizza and Romanesco Pizza with Cashew Cream, Salsa Verde and Pine Nuts on our site for inspo!)
Cheesy and doughy alternatives are out there:
Maybe you have kids who love pizza but are limited by allergies, dietary restrictions, or other health concerns. The good news about modern pizza-making is there are more choices than ever: We’ve got recipes for Gluten-free Sicilian Pizza Dough, for example, and even sell gluten-free flour. There are also many clever and tasty ways to approach classic toppings (hello, beeteroni!) through a vegan lens, not to mention opportunities to cook up eco-friendly pizza.
Pizzaiolos for life:
There’s no surefire, one-size-fits-all, kid-approved pizza, nor should there be. What matters most is that the next time you make pizza with your kids, they eat, participate and have a good time. More than likely, by engaging in pizza-making, not only will they acquire valuable culinary experience, but they’ll also develop important life skills like following instructions, teamwork, creativity and responsibility. Turn pizza-making into a regular family activity, and make sure to involve everyone in the process. Along the way, you’ll find that you’ve created meaningful memories and opportunities to explore different food cultures and cuisines, expanding your child's culinary knowledge and promoting cultural appreciation. Viva la pizza-making!