I'm trying to figure out how to "cook" with my nephew, who is 2 1/2 years old. By far his favorite play activity is cooking... he has a toy kitchen and many toy food and utensil sets, and will spend hours "cooking" for us. Last night I was babysitting him, and I found an Easy Bake Oven app for my phone. He played with it until the battery died - picking out different flavors of cake mix, adding it to the bowl with water, stirring it (all the while singing "stirrin, stirrin, stirrin...") filling up the little cake pans, baking them, then decorating them... it was the most fun I've ever had with him!
With all the interest he's showing, I want to start cooking with him now, since I love it so much and I think it would be a great thing for us to share. My sister doesn't really cook; my brother-in-law loves to (and is good at it) but he works long hours, so often cooks in such rushed fashion that he doesn't have time to do so with my nephew. I don't want to buy him an Easy Bake Oven (because he's too young, plus I'd rather start him on "real" cooking.)
I know it sounds silly, but I'm not sure how to start. I don't have kids, and this is the oldest child in the family, so I have absolutely no experience with toddlers, other than what time I'm spending with my nephew now. What works well for someone his age? I don't want to just have him watch me, because I think he'll feel like he's not part of the process. Should I try with "play" stuff right now? Meaning we measure and pour and stir things, but don't really cook anything? That way he can gets his hands dirty without worrying about ruining an actual recipe? Or should I have him help me by pouring stuff I already have measured into mixing bowls?
Those of you with experience... how should I start this with him? Thanks for any advice!