Baking delicious treats for gift giving with your children is the perfect remedy to get back to the simple things in life. Even young children can participate by adding and stirring ingredients.Re-create some of your own Holiday happy moments with your children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. Baking with children is a wonderful way to teach, share, and connect. When you’re finished, you will have a sweet treat!
Of course baking with children may not be a walk in the park without some ground rules. Baking success starts with appropriate expectations. Give kids jobs suited to their abilities, and praise them generously when they complete a task. Make sure each baking experience is a positive one, even if the results aren’t quite what you expected.
Children as young as two or three can participate in simple baking activities such as pouring, stirring, and decorating. By five or six, kids enjoy measuring, making cookie-cutter shapes, and using a rotary beater. At nine or ten, most children have the coordination to operate electric equipment such as blenders and microwave ovens and the reading skills to understand recipes.
For your first cooking experience, choose a recipe that uses familiar ingredients—sugar, eggs, flour, butter, chocolate chips—and basic techniques such as blending, stirring, and spooning. You may want to teach your children about the
individual ingredients as you use them. For example, milk comes from a cow and eggs come from chickens. To extend the learning experience, later you may even want to take them on a working farm to teach them more about where their food comes from.
It’s natural to worry about safety in the kitchen. But with a little instruction, kids can learn to respect safety guidelines without feeling anxious or fearful. Sharp edges and hot temperatures are a parent’s top concerns. Don’t let young children use sharp knives, and don’t let them use the burners or oven until they’ve had plenty of experience around the kitchen. As you work with the range or oven, explain to your child what you’re doing and why.
Making a mess is inevitable with beginners. Here’s how to keep it to a minimum:
• Spread plastic or newspapers over tables or countertops to minimize sticky messes.
• Wear an apron or clothes that can be easily thrown in the wash. Small children can wear an old T-shirts over clothing.
• Don’t get frustrated and keep your sense of humor. Messes CAN be cleaned up as you go.
Remember you are making fun memories and cooking skills that will last for a lifetime!