User post: Iced pumpkin cookies give kids 3 sweet reasons to get in the kitchen

One of our favorite fall traditions is to throw on our aprons and do a little baking together, and there's nothing like Iced Pumpkin Cookies to get kids excited to help while they learn a little along the way.

Many people dread the thought of kids in the kitchen--the mess, the stress, and the effort it takes just don't outweigh the benefits in some people's minds, especially if the kids are under five. But my feeling is to start 'em young.

Get those little ones in the kitchen, hands washed, aprons, on, and use this time as a fun way of throwing in some early literacy, math, and science skills. Need a few more reasons to get the little guys up at the counter?

Here are three big reasons to make this season's baking a family affair:

1. The learning opportunities:
New tastes, textures, and smells are in abundance in the kitchen, with almost every holiday recipe. And with even just a little tweaking, recipes can be made kid-friendly and ready to support early literacy skills. Add a picture, enlarge the font, highlight numbers, and little ones' eyes will have an easier time reading ingredients or following steps. Early math skills are practiced with simple addition and reading numbers, and the whole deal's one big science experiment--throw a few things together, add some heat, and voila! you've got a new food!

2. The pride factor:
When your kiddos are the ones who 'baked' dessert for a family gathering, all eyes will be on them, and they'll feel like a million bucks. And even if it's not for a huge family meal, if your children help you bake cookies and then bag a few up and tie it with a pretty ribbon, it's a sweet surprise for teachers, friends, or neighbors. It feels good to provide something nice for others, and it's never too early to teach that lesson!

3. The memory-making:
So what if your 3-year-old squeezes an egg in her hand and it explodes all over the counter the first time she tries to crack it? We still laugh at the time my then 4-year-old son dropped the entire salt shaker into our cookie dough when he was just supposed to add five shakes? Sure, it was a royal pain for me to clean at the time, but his little baking mis-step still gets my three kids rolling on the floor laughingl

Our Iced Pumpkin Cookies are a fall-favorite, and the unusual spices--cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon--get my kiddos' senses going and curiosity brimming. Every single time we make these they get to try the spices, add the ingredients, and then share the final product with loved ones.

You can find Amy over at teach mama, where she shares her kid-friendly Iced Pumpkin Cookie Recipe and a whole lot more. She's also always hanging out at we teach, a forum she created for parents and teachers to share ideas, learn from each other, and grow as educators.