This post is Day 10 of Vibrant Homeschooling’s “12 Days of Christmas Teachable Moments” series.
As Christmas draws near, it is always fun to spend some extra time with the kids sharing the holiday traditions that I grew up with and helping to create new traditions with them.
Our biggest holiday tradition 11 years and running has been making Christmas cookies and a homemade gingerbread house.
But baking takes up a lot of time and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed trying to keep homeschooling going during the Christmas season. So it’s really great that we’ve learned to make use of the teachable moments that baking with kids allows for.
Baking has always been a passion of mine and there are so many ways to get kids involved. They can gather ingredients, help measure, mix, roll out the dough, cut out the shapes and the favorite part of my kids, decorate!
I’ve always known that baking was great for helping kids to learn about measuring, but last year when my oldest daughter was having trouble mastering equivalent fractions, my mother (she’s so awesome!) suggested that I mix up the measuring cups. So instead of using all the proper and “easy” measuring cups, I gave my daughter a teaspoon, a 1/3 cup measure and a 1/4 cup measure and had her figure out how to get all the right measurements.
That inspired a whole train of thinking for me and ever since, we’ve been integrating a lot of different skills into our baking time. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the learning ideas we’ve come up with for baking with kids.
Ways to Learn Through Baking With Kids
Develop hand and arm strength by mixing and rolling out the dough.
Count the number of buttons on the gingerbread men.
Estimate how many cookie cutters you can fit on a piece of rolled out dough.
Explore the sense of taste by comparing different recipes or kinds of dough (yum!)
Explore the sense of touch by comparing the texture of different doughs.
For older kids:
Figure out how many cookies will fit on a cookie sheet by creating an array. (An array is simply an picture of objects arranged in a way that is easy to count: 4 rows of 4 cookies=16) You can use the array to skip count, add or multiply.
Find equivalent fractions (like I mentioned above) by using alternate measuring sizes: (2) 1/4 cup measures= (1) 1/2 cup measure.
Double or triple the batch and have your kids multiply the fractions.
Convert the measurements to the metric system (or vice versa).
Do double duty by having your kids check the oven temperature by using an oven thermometer (bonus: your oven temp. will be just perfect for your turkey!)
Figure out how long it will take you to bake the cookies: 6 trays x 8 minutes each=48 minutes, then figure out what the time will be when you are finished by calculating elapsed time.
Practice subtraction: We made 48 cookies. Dad ate 2 cookies. How many cookies do we have left?
And a silly one, try to figure out how much milk a cookie soaks up in 10 seconds of dipping!
This is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about the kindness and love that the Christmas season is all about. When your baking adventures are over and the decorating is all done, package up your cookies and take them to someone who could use a little love and care.
Here’s a few suggestions of places that you could spread some Christmas cheer:
A children’s hospital
Your local police or fire department
Nursing home (extra bonus if you make some sugar-free cookies for those who are diabetic.)
This Pinterest board has lots of great Christmas recipes that my family has been using over the last few years. I hope that you find something that you enjoy!
Enjoy your time baking and learning this Christmas season! I’d love to hear what you are baking! Let me know in the comments, so I can check out your favorite recipes too!