Children Learn while Baking-Traveling Closet

by Mary Ann on October 10, 2011

children making cookies and learning

Kids can learn a lot while making cookies!

I have mentioned that my last few Traveling Closets have not been on the mark for Jack. He had fun but there was always something else he would rather have learned about. So this time I made a phone call and asked him, “What are you interested in”. His reply came without hesitation. “Making cookies! Hmmmm, I had to think about that one.

So last Friday we made cookies, Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms to be exact. I went on line to find the recipe. Then I copied it to a Word Document. Using my super “image” googling skills I turned it into a “read along” recipe. It took me about 15 minutes total.

printout of cookie recipe

A "read along" recipe

You will notice that there is one cup or two cups or one spoon or two spoons per item. If an item took a cup and a half of something there would be two cups. I didn’t differentiate measurement for Jack and Maggie, just how many. If there was more than one teaspoon then I would show two spoons instead of one. If I had been working with older children we would have talked about different cup measurements and found the cup that matched the fraction in the recipe.

I then packed all the stuff we would need for the day into my huge metal mixing bowl (the Closet for the day) and off I went.

The first thing that Jack and Maggie did was to unload the bowl. As each item was taken out of the bowl I asked them what its name was. There was sugar, brown and white, flour, baking soda, vanilla, an egg, salt and of course, peanut butter. We didn’t use Hershey Kisses on our cookies because we are limiting the sweets. Instead we used huge chocolate chips and the kids were fine with that. They didn’t know the difference.

kid measuring for cookies picture

Emptying out the "treasure"

As we looked at the ingredients we talked about what each one does. Salt isn’t to make cookies saltier, it just enhances the taste. Hmmmmm, new word! Sugar makes cookies sweet. Flour and eggs are the structural ingredients in baking, they give cookies substance. Hmmmmm, two more new words. Baking soda is for fluffiness and you can clean your dog with it too! This fluffiness is called leaven; another new word. This was a new word day. Peanut butter and vanilla are for yummy flavor. Of course the chocolate chips are for decoration and just plain fun. Now, wasn’t that a great way to  teach children new words?

reading cookies recipe

"Reading" our recipe

After we unloaded the bowl we took a look at the recipe. We read through it identifying each ingredient by its picture and then locating it in the pile on the table. At the bottom of the recipe it told us to set the oven to 375 degrees. So Jack and I went to the oven and found that number on the dial and got it going.

preheating the oven picture

Learning how the oven works and finding 375 degrees

Each person took a turn identifying an ingredient in the recipe, measuring it out and adding it to the bowl. (Tip:AdamsPeanut butter is very soft and is much easier for children to measure.) (Tip: Shortening and butter are much more difficult to mix than oil.)

adding the cookies ingredient picture

Adams Peanut Butter sorta pours. Much easier!

After each addition we had to stir. It takes a long time and a lot of stirring for children to get it all mixed. So stirring after each addition is very helpful. Maggie wanted to keep checking in the bowl to see what it looked like after each additional ingredient was added and stirred in.

mixing the cookies ingredients picture

Baking is fascinating business!

Our recipe showed us that we needed to roll the dough into balls. Maggie couldn’t manage this task and Jack was totally disinterested in it. They both loved rolling the dough balls in sugar though; then into the oven to bake.

kids happy with their baked cookies

Yummy and happy!

This was a very yummy and fun school day. We learned to read the recipe and to figure out what went into cookies, as well as how many cups and spoons we needed, lots of good counting. We also heard some new words. The children liked being able to figure out which ingredient was needed next. It was more fun that just having grandma say “OK, now we need flour”.

Hooray for a fun, informative and yummy school day! Please share your best “kid tested” recipe. We would all love to try it out with our kids.

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