Who knew this was a thing! And more importantly how did I not know!
Talk about enjoying the simple pleasures in life, A homemade cookie right out of the oven can be pure joy! Many of us have been doing more baking during the pandemic and I am no exception. I have also found that it’s a good activity for the kids to take part in, especially given that we are all indoors a little more these days.
Kids from ages 3 on up can take part in this activity. You can have the older kids be “in charge” of the younger ones which teaches them leadership skills and responsibility with the added benefit of having them mind more as they are now responsible for enforcing the “rules.”
First, you will need to pick a recipe, for this example, I recommend a sugar cookie with icing so the kids can cut shapes out of the dough and then decorate with icing after the cookies have cooled. Although, you can really choose any cookie, involving the kids if you like in the choice in advance.
Next, pick a space where you are ok with having a mess. When I bake I always tell the kids that it is ok to make a mess. Plus, if they want to enjoy whatever you are making they also need to help clean the mess, another important skill to master! You can cover the table in a large cover or even lay out a ripped plastic recycling or garbage bag to help simplify clean up. It is important for kids learning and development for them to be able to engage in "messy play" and I find this to be a perfect venue for them to explore with. Messy play can help with sensory exploration, development of fine motor skills, creative and imaginative play, in addition they learn to work with others to make and clean the mess. You can teach them how to measure and pour, both wet and dry ingredients, developing those fine motor skills. I also like to teach some basic math skills along the way for real life examples of why math is so important.
With all that in mind, if you do pick the activity of icing sugar cookies you can also make the dough in advance, alone or with your little "helpers." If you make it 2 or more days in advance, freeze it, and take it out to thaw overnight in the refrigerator the evening before. If you do decide to make the dough the same day remember it will have to cool it in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes before you’re able to work with it. Younger kids can become impatient during this break time, and who can blame them! Personally, I’m never organized enough to do it in advance, so I usually end up with impatient kids running around in eager anticipation asking 500 times, is it ready yet? Maybe by next international cookie day I will manage to pull off making them in advance!
Finally, once the dough is ready you can roll it out in smaller batches and let the kids play at making different shapes with cookie cutters, or if they are older they can cut out their own original shapes or patterns. I always let the kids have extra dough to do whatever they want with for extra sensory exposure, imaginative play and creativity. Then its off to the oven to bake.
For The icing you can buy ready made royal icing or other varieties
or try making your own. The above sites also have recipes for icing. If you are making your own you can do this while the cookies bake and cool. We also like to play around with sprinkles and different toppings. I always love the variety of decorations they come up with.
Baking alone or with your kid(s) or other friend/family can be a great way to relieve stress, practice being present, and really connect to others. You can incorporate this into your holiday traditions, maybe bake and send homemade cookies to a friend or family member you will not be able to see in person this season. Remember, it’s about the journey not the outcome. Although in this case the outcome is pretty delicious!
Please feel free to share your favorite recipes or tips for Baking. Next on my list to try is grandbaby cakes neopolitan cookies- my kids love that there are multiple flavors in one featured in this cookie