In my class, we recently talked about fractions. Nothing too complex, just how to identify, write and read them. I teach first graders, after all!
We recently baked cookies at school as a class as part of our fractions unit. I’ve done this a time or two before, but I usually had some help. This time, I was alone. All alone. Granted, I have 8 well-behaved students in my class, so it wasn’t so bad. But they were all very excited and sometimes excitement translates in a variety of ways! We had fun baking, and eating the cookies was even more fun!
I thought it may be helpful to compile a list of things I do when I am baking with a number of children. You may find this advice useful for when your kids have friends over, summer camps, or any other time you find yourself trying to bake with a group of kids!
Get familiar with the oven you are using.
I made this mistake. I thought I had turned one of the ovens on when I really had not. There were two knobs I needed to turn, and I only did one. Oops. So, I ended up sticking both cookie sheets in one oven (the one I actually turned on) and the bottoms got a little dark on the cookies on the bottom rack. Also, the oven did not ding when it was preheated. So I don’t actually know what temperature oven I put our cookies into!
Make sure the kids wash their hands!
Let’s face it…kiddos tend to have all kinds of germs on their hands much of the time! Personally, I don’t need germ cookies!
Let the kids help…but take turns!
This is the most fun part for the kiddos! I found that putting the kids in a circle around an island and just rotating around the island, taking turns, seemed to work well. Letting everyone dig into all the ingredients wildly at one time is probably a recipe for disaster!
Letting each child do a step, like dumping flour into a bowl, keeps them included while giving everyone a chance to contribute.
If time permits, you may also want to give each child a chance to whisk the dry ingredients together. Pick some mixing that won’t take too much elbow grease, or your batter might end up being flung across the kitchen!
Allow the kids to touch and smell the ingredients.
One thing I found when baking with my class was that they loved to smell ingredients! Especially spices or rather uncommon ingredients, like cinnamon, vanilla, or molasses. Some ingredients, like flour, have an interesting texture and kids would like to feel and play with it (a small amount that won’t end up in the cookies)!
Ask questions while you are working.
Keeping the children engaged and involved who aren’t actually doing something with ingredients is a little tricky. Try asking the kids questions about the ingredients. Why do you think we need to add butter? Where does flour come from? How many 1/3 cups fit in 1 cup? Just random tidbits that might make them think or teach them a little something!
Have games and books to occupy during baking time.
I use baking time as an opportunity to do dishes and start getting things cleaned up, that way I don’t need to worry about it afterwards. But children need something to do for that 10 minutes! I always have the students bring one thing, (book, puzzle, game, etc.) with them to the kitchen. Even if they don’t read their book but rather play a game with another student, they are still doing something constructive.
Be sure the kids can hear the timer.
I find that setting a timer that my students can hear makes them excited about the cookies being done and coming out of the oven! (Unless they aren’t finished baking when the timer goes off…then it’s like a roller coaster of emotions for those poor kiddos!)
So whether you are a teacher or a parent, (or both!) I hope you find these tips helpful and useful and they make your baking adventures with a number of kiddos more enjoyable!
Do you have any other advice that works for you when baking with children? Please feel free to share!
Below is the recipe we used for baking our fraction cookies! They were tasty, just a little crunchier than I normally like! (I think that can be attributed to my oven debacle!)