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Simple Joy of Baking Cookies!

734 As this time of the year generally becomes rather hectic and busy, it may become a little more of a challenge than usual to keep your 4-year-old busy while you are attempting to get things done.  There is shopping to do, relatives to visit, old friends to catch up with, and of course with the winter comes the unexpected sniffles and coughs.  Recently I found that there is a way to combine spending quality time with your little ones AND preparing for the holidays.  Just get yourself some cooking oil, eggs, flour, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips, sugar (brown, granulated, and powdered!), and throw in some food coloring and colored icing.  Now you are ready to bake some cookies!  Yes, even a 4-year-old can help with making holiday cookies.  In fact, pretty much any child that could count, stir things, push down cookie cutters, shake sprinkles, or draw with icing would most likely LOVE to learn how to bake cookies if someone takes the time to show them how.  I had the chance to teach my niece just last week as I wanted to hang out with my family, but also needed to bake cookies for holiday gifts. 

From the beginning of the little project she was ready to start decorating!  We had to show her that there won’t be any cookies to decorate until we mix this stuff with the proper measurements. With two large mixing bowls on the table and all of the ingredients and baking supplies in front of us, we got to counting.  She stood up on the chair and held the measuring cup over the bowl.  I poured the flour, and we counted together: “Here is one; okay, pour it in the bowl.”  Of course, a little flour puffed up and immediately it was on her shirt. She doesn’t really like to get very messy and so a moment of fear crossed her face.  I burst out laughing; “Well, now you know why chefs wear aprons!”  She started laughing too and we continued getting messy. “And two; and pour. And ¾ of a cup; and pour.” I took a moment to teach her the difference between one cup and ¾ of a cup.  It’s never too early to start learning math!  

735 We moved on to measuring in the baking soda and baking powder.  I let her use the large wooden spoon to gently mix the ingredients together.  She quickly observed that if she wasn’t careful it was going to get everywhere and so we let her mix.  Next we measured the sugar and butter.  Using a mixer is a little much for her and by this time she wanted her hands in on everything! She impatiently watched as we threw in the eggs and vanilla.  We let her help with adding the flour mix into the mixing bowl.  Just a little spilled out the side, no big deal.  While my sister and the mixing bowl mixed, we prepared to roll out the cookie dough by setting out wax paper and a bit of flour on the table.  “You see, we need to put some flour on the rolling pin and wax paper, or the cookie dough will just get stuck.  We also have to grease the baking sheets” You can squeeze in a little bit of a science lesson too; no matter what age!

When the dough was all mixed we pulled out chunks of the cookie dough and rolled it out together.  At first she did it by herself, because she has to do EVERYTHING by herself first, just like her aunt.  She soon realized that she wasn’t quite strong enough to flatten it out all the way and so she allowed me to assist.  Then she learned how to place the cookie cutters so as to make as many cookies as possible with the cookie dough you have.  She liked pushing them through the dough and taking away the trimmings. This process took a little time, but eventually we had 6 trays of cookies ready for the oven.

We took advantage of the 10 minute break with a little kitchen clean-up while the cookies baked.  Before we knew it the house smelled like heaven and we were ready to decorate! “This is so much fun!”  She exclaimed as we taught her how to spread on the icing.  With a little math, a little science, a lot of fun and a delicious outcome, by the end of the evening I had finished baking some holiday gifts and created memorable moments with my family.    

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Julianne Sando, Special Events & Birthdays Coordinator, has been with Kidspace for over five years and in that time has helped implement unforgettable special events for thousands of children and families visiting Kidspace.  Prior to Kidspace, she worked as a camp counselor, after school program educator, soccer coach, and Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia.