10 Ways to Turn Your Kids into Bakers

Turn your child into a baker!Turn your child into a baker!Both of my boys love to cook...just like their mama. Whether it's helping with dinner, baking cookies or frosting a cake, they are front and center. It's wonderful to see them in the kitchen, of course, but I've also used our baking activities as a way to work with them on math skills (fractions), reading and the basics of following instructions. And when I sense they're having an off day, I've learned that it's easy to get to the root of their funk by starting a baking project together. While we're gathering ingredients and mixing things up, we talk.

If you love baking and are eager to have your kids join you in the kitchen, these 10 tips are for you:

-Invite your kids to be in the kitchen with you so they can watch you bake. Start with a simple, tasty recipe or activity. Need some starter ideas? Try healthy breakfast cookies. Draw on cookies. Make mini cupcakes. Whip up no-knead bread or basic pizza dough.

-Ask them to help you with simple tasks (e.g., "Can you mix this batter? Can you pour the flour in the mix? Can you find a stick of butter in the refrigerator?").

-When it comes to kitchen safety, lead by example. Make sure your kids see you using your oven mitts when you open the oven. Wash your hands frequently. Don't taste batter after eggs have been added. It's important that your kids not only see the fun side of baking, but the activities that keep them safe -- from cooking-related injuries or spreading germs!

-Don't worry about messes. Kids in the kitchen equals guaranteed spills, big and small. Don't sweat it. Teach them how to neatly spoon flour into measuring cups or mixing bowls. Show them how to gently mix ingredients so that everything doesn't splatter outside of the bowl. Better yet? Do this all over a baking sheet for easier clean up. Or just clean as you go...they can help!

-Use cooking tools that fit small hands. You don't need to purchase a ton of gear for your kids, but it makes sense to invest in a few tools that will easily fit small hands. I think a spatula, whisk, and wooden mixing spoon are the essentials items. Later on, you can try fun gadgets like these Star Wars cookie cutters.

-Explain the role of each ingredient in a recipe. Why do you include eggs in cakes? What does baking soda do? Why are you adding vanilla? Butter? What's the difference between whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour? Why do you choose one over the other? Arm your kid with the science behind ingredients. One added benefit is that you're also teaching them about food choices and eating habits. (Check out The Accidental Scientist: The Science of Cooking; this kid-friendly website offers excellent information on basic ingredients along with some cool cooking experiments.)

Let your kids invent their own recipes! Give them a recipe challenge -- put several basic ingredients on a tray and ask them to create their own recipe. Remember; don't worry about messes!

-Keep cookbooks, baking books, or cooking magazines -- all with beautiful photographs -- around your home. Kids who love to bake will spend hours going through cookbooks and magazines. Look at them with your kids. Use sticky notes to flag the recipes they want to try. I still love the children's cookbooks by Mollie Katzen. The first recipe my oldest son ever tried on his own was a batch of popovers from Katzen's book, Pretend Soup. And I do battle my kids every month over the latest issues of Sunset Magazine and Everyday Food when they arrive in the mail.

-Ask your kids what they'd like to bake. Ask them to help you make the list and when you shop for ingredients, they can help you find the items.

-Make baking fun! Turn up the tunes and shake it while you bake it! Snap photos of your kids for each step of a recipe. For younger children, print the pictures and help them write a story to accompany the photos. Just have fun.

Do your kids love to bake? What are their favorite recipes?

Share your family photos and any other fun, embarrassing or incredible moments that you have captured on the Moments of Motherhood Flickr Group. While you are here take part in discussions with other moms.




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