When I say ‘baking with kids,’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a mental image of a child covered in flour, looking more like a cartoon ghost than a human being? Possibly it is from your own childhood where everything is seemingly covered with various ingredients while trying to make cookies. No matter what your perception is of kids baking, there is a right way and a wrong way to bake with your children.
Keep It Simple
Combine, Pour, Bake and Eat. Those are the four steps that any kid should be able to digest, no pun intended. Kids like simple to start. If they ask questions, roll with it. Teaching children to bake is all about being flexible.
Take a minute and think about when you were a kid and how much fun you had trying your hand at the sifter for the first time. Just that simple task of sifting four cups of flour, pulling that trigger back and forth, feeling the burn in your forearm; it gave you a sense of accomplishment. Giving children small, simple tasks to complete is a great way to start teaching them how to bake.
If a cup of flour ends up on the floor, don’t worry, just finish what you are doing and grab the broom and dustpan and go at it. The name of the game is, whatever happens, happens. Don’t worry about making a mess. Heck, why not join in on the fun of painting with the chocolate sauce on the counter?
Kids will make a mess no matter what they do. It is inevitable and should be expected at all times. If you can’t control it, and can’t really manage it, why not just go with it and don’t worry about it. Things will get mixed wrong, and in wrong amounts; other things will probably burn, just make sure you have enough material on hand to start the project over just in case.
Fun Is Key
Go ahead, let them feel the flour between their fingers and try to hand whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Having fun is part of being a kid and there is no point in doing anything if you can’t have fun while doing it. Keeping activities fun for kids helps to hold their attention. Kids also tend to be more creative and receptive when they are having fun.
Since the whole motivation behind teaching a kid to bake is completely for the child, it is ok to quietly note that being around a kid that is having fun generally lowers stress and inhibitions and lets you have fun as well.
So kick back your shoes, tie back your hair and start baking with your kids. Keep it simple, don’t worry if a mess is made and have fun doing whatever it is that actually happens. Grab your kid, a baking pan and some butter, flour and sugar and start making some deliciously messy baked goods.
More help and resources:
In our Kids Cooking Lessons we have lessons on learning to measure accurately, baking cookies, cakes, pies, bread dough and much more fun activities.