Holiday baking can be difficult to accomplish while trying to keep your toddler occupied at the same time. Thankfully, you can make it into a fun and educational activity for your toddler by including them in the baking process. You can present the cookie baking as a string of Montessori activities. Not only will this enable you to get your baking done, it can be a very fun and educational experience for your child. You can discuss the steps together and make it a sensory exploration. Plus, the cookies will taste better if little hands help prepare them!
Sugar Cookie Recipe
For this Montessori-style baking activity, we used the following sugar cookie recipe:
You Will Need:
- 1/2 cups of butter (softened)
- 2 cups of white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
This recipe was adapted from All Recipies
Preparing the dough (Motor Skills):
Measure: Help your child measure out the ingredients. If you are worried about the mess, guide their hands and pour with them. Show them the numbers on the measuring cups and spoons and tell them how much of each ingredient you are using. If possible, let them play with the measuring cups or experiment with the dry ingredients.
Cut: Help your child cut the butter with a rounded butter knife and blend the butter and sugar until no lumps remain.
Pour: Whether it be from measuring cups or teaspoons, let your child pour in the ingredients. Beat the eggs and vanilla, and then add them to the bowl. Then add the dry ingredients.
Stir: Have them stir, and give an example of how to hold the bowl while stirring. Cover and chill the dough for one hour or overnight. This works well to make cookie decorating a two-day process, if needed or desired.
Rolling out the Dough and Cutting Cookies (Sensorial):
The sense of touch is very prominent in small children, which means playing with the cookie dough will probably be one of your child’s favorite parts.
Rolling: Be sure to put flour down on a flat surface and then have your child help you roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. If the rolling pin is too heavy or difficult, you can also give them their own piece of dough to roll with a smooth plastic cup. Another idea is to give them a bowl to flatten the dough. Let them experiment with the texture of the dough. Chances are, there will be more than one little poke in your cookies, but that just gives them more character!
Cutting out cookies: One of the most fun parts to watch is letting your child cut out the cookies. Is your child so enthusiastic that there’s flour everywhere? Were they extra cautious? Either way, you should lead them to cue their senses to the process. What does the dough feel like? What does it smell like? If you are looking for some great, child-friendly grippy cookie cutters see these by Wilton.
Bake cookies 6-7 minutes at 400°F.
Fingerpainting: Fingerpainting your Christmas cookies is a very fun alternative way to decorate your cookies. Something that is also wonderful about it is that it is sugar-free!
Frosting: If you decide to use frosting, put the frosting in a pastry decorating bag and let your child work on squeezing out the icing and drawing any designs they want. You will be surprised at how beautiful these little works of art will turn out!
Cleaning/Sense of order:
Have your child help wash the dishes. Giving them a spoon and brush with a little soap involves them in the process, and helps build good habit patterns that messes need to be cleaned up!
Finally, don’t forget the final step–teaching your child about their sense of taste! Enjoy!