Ignoring the calories and potential sugar overload, baking is a fantastic activity to do with your children. It promotes independence and gets them hands on with doing an activity that can teach them all about maths and science – plus you usually end up with something delicious at the end. It can be tricky to know where to start though – so here are some of our tips on how to make the most out of baking with your kids.
Simplicity is key
We’ve all watched Bake Off and see the fantastic looking bakes they make, wishing we could replicate those – if you’re baking with kids however it’s important to not set your expectations too high on the look of the finished product. One of my favourite things to make with the kids is oat and raisin cookies. They’re not supposed to look fantastic, so you never feel the pressure to make them look great – and there’s no complicated steps or processes, just a straightforward order of things to do, followed by mixing it all together and bunging in the oven at the end.
Maybe when your kids get a bit older you can start looking at things like folding mixtures rather than vigorous mixing and kneading bread for some time – but if they’re under 5, your best bet is to keep it as straightforward as you can.
Prep, prep, prep
Nobody likes waiting around for someone else to do something – especially not a child who’s waiting for you to find the vanilla extract which you’re certain was in the cupboard… to keep them engaged in the whole process I like to weigh out all of the ingredients beforehand into small bowls. That way you can just follow the recipe and not have to keep checking back for the ingredients, find them, weigh them and then put them in. It does mean a bit more washing up, but that can always be something you get them to do whilst you have a well deserved cuppa.
It’s useful to know what you can get the kids involved in. If I’m making pastry – I always get the kids to rub the butter into the flour, it’s something you can’t really get wrong and it’s a great activity for them to get stuck in with and get their fingers dirty.
Work the science in
Depending on the age of your little one, this could work in different ways, but baking is a whole world of learning. Why does yeast make bread rise? Why does whipping egg whites create meringue? How does the liquid batter turns to a solid when baked. By talking to them about science and maths in a setting like the kitchen you’re setting them up with an interest and a relatable set of skills for life.
When they start to wonder
A lot of the time it gets to a point where you can’t hold your child’s attention any more. And that’s ok, they just want to run around or jump on the sofa (probably a good idea to burn off some energy before tucking into a biscuit or two). If you do want to keep them engaged for a little bit longer – if you’re making something mouldable like pastry then let them use it like play dough and make some shapes with some cookie cutters or spread out a thin layer of flour, great for mark making. Or grab one of their kitchen toys and let them keep on “baking” in the kitchen.
We’d really like to know how your bakes turn out, if you’re on instagram please add our tag #ecotoyplay to your posts.