The holidays make me crave gingerbread men, cinnamon & egg nog, that paired with the cold weather gives me the inspiration to stay home and bake. While I’m spending more time at home, I like to take this opportunity to bake with my kids. It’s a great bonding activity, makes for some fond family memories, but also is a good teaching opportunity, AND we all get a fun & yummy treat to share at the end of it!
Baking Builds Math Skills. Baking with your child helps with their math and science skills. When they help dump 3 cups of flour into a bowl, they are counting. When they help measure 1/2 a cup of sugar, they are learning about parts of wholes and fractions. When they help you ensure that 1 cup of milk is lined up with the line on the measuring cup, they are learning about volume and capacity and the accuracy of measurement.
Baking Introduces Life Skills. Basically, it gets kids into the kitchen, creating something that they can enjoy! And in our house, the number one rule to baking or cooking is to wash your hands first – a good rule to live by, that helps instill the importance of cleanliness. Baking with your kids also helps build self-esteem by giving kids the skills they need to feed and look after themselves as they grow. It can also be a nice way for kids to show they are grateful for others as a gesture of friendliness by baking a batch of cookies for a neighbor, teacher or friend.
Baking Develops Fine Motor Skills. For young children, baking provides fun fine-motor practice. When holding a spoon, kids are developing and strengthening their pincer grasp (needed for writing). To have them pick up the spoon using the pincer grasp, try placing it on the counter with the ladle facing their body. When they flip the spoon, it will be in a pincer grasp! Also, when they are stirring, they are building hand-eye coordination. When they are holding the bowl so it doesn’t spin while they are stirring, they are learning to coordinate different movements at the same time.
Baking Promotes Social Skills. If you bake with a few kids, there’s a lot of social negotiation that has to occur. Who is going to do what? Whose turn is it? Both are critical social lessons that apply to all sorts of situations. Even if it’s just you and one child, you are still modelling turn-taking and waiting skills.
Baking Provides Fun Bonding Time With Your Child. If you keep things simple, and allow for a little mess, you should have a successful experience (or many!) that will be remembered and cherished by your child. I have very fond memories of baking in the kitchen with my mom and want to pass along that special closeness when I’m baking with my boys.
Soft Holiday Cookies
–3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup softened butter
-1 1/2 cups white sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-3 cups flour
-2 teaspoons ground ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
-¼ teaspoon salt
-¾ cup softened butter
-¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
-½ cup molasses
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
‘Winter Wonderland’ Frozen Yogurt Bark
-2 cups plain Greek yogurt
-1/4 cup raw honey
-1/4 cup dry Goji berries (or any good dried fruit)
-1/4 cup natural chocolate chips
Mix the yogurt and honey in a bowl. Line a cutting board with parchment paper and spread a layer of the yogurt until it’s 1/2 inch in thickness. Top with fruits, chocolate, and crushed @drpopsnatural candies. Freeze for at least 3 hours, then break into bite sized pieces and serve!