This month, we are partnering with the team at HOMER — They make HOMER Reading, the proven learn-to-read program for kids ages 2-8.
HOMER’s reading program is personalized to your child’s interests and reading stage. As a special treat, we gave them one of our famous chocolate chip cookie recipes (see below). In exchange, HOMER’s learning experts gave us some tips on how we can get our kids involved in the baking process in an age-appropriate way!
Tips from HOMER’s Learning Experts
Baking with your child or grandchild can become a memory they will cherish into their adult life. Whether it’s licking the spoon or helping to mix, the sensory nature of baking — the smells, the tastes, and the textures —helps to ingrain the experience in their memory.
If you’ve ever gotten an email or seen a blog post with a list of sensory activities, you’ll know that when kids are engaging in activities that activate the different areas of their brain, they are more likely to retain information. The sensory experience that makes baking together stick in peoples’ cherished memory is the same thing that makes it a great time to sneak in some learning. Here are some things you can do with your child to help them learn as you bake!
Baking with Kids Ages 18-24 Months
At this age, kids’ brains are growing so fast and absorbing so much that any sensory activity is great for their growth. It’s easy to create sensory activities for this age group while baking, simply:
- Give them their own batter. While you mix the bigger bowl of batter, give your child their own little mixture of flour and water to play with.
- Do the dishes. Get your toddler to help with cleaning up – this can mean just dunking their hands in soapy water and using a sponge. They are going to love this one!
Baking with Kids Ages 2-3
Kids between the ages of 2-3 might be starting to repeat words and even forming complete sentences. They are also building gross-motor skills. You can work on both these skills during baking by:
- Thinking aloud. As you work through the recipe and notice things, talk about it. Using language like, “This soft butter is so easy to slice” or “This sugar pours so easily” helps to build your child’s vocabulary.
- Getting their help with pouring, stirring, and flattening. Kids this age can pour pre-measured ingredients into a bowl, and if you have a toddler-sized mixing bowl, they can practice those gross-motor skills by stirring. Finally, their little hands are great for flattening the scooped out cookie dough.
Baking with Kids Ages 4-5
4-to-5-year-olds are usually developing skills that are specifically useful when it comes to baking: early math and sequencing. You can practice these skills by:
- Getting them to help with measuring. Whether it’s pouring a cup full of sugar or spooning out 1 teaspoon of baking powder, getting your child to help with measuring shows them that math is a meaningful part of their lives.
- Giving them multi-step tasks to follow. Getting your child to follow an increasingly complex sequence of tasks not only helps build their memory but shows them the importance of following steps in order. You can start simple with directions like, “Go to the pantry, get the chocolate chips, and put it on the counter.”
Baking with Kids Ages 5+
Kids above the age of 5 are usually able to do almost all the tasks that come with baking. You can get them involved by:
- Getting their help in finding the ingredients. Print out two copies of the chocolate chip recipe and divide up the list of ingredients. They can count up the number of ingredients and maybe even read some of the items on the list. Once they’ve done that you can both work together to find everything you need.
- Letting them get hands on! At this age, kids can stir, grease the baking sheet, scoop out the dough and even turn the oven on and set it to the right temperature. Of course, anything involving heat should be done by a grown-up!
How do you get your child involved in the kitchen? Try out this chocolate chip recipe and HOMER’s tips for baking with kids. If you need some advice on kid-friendly cooking tools, head over to HOMER’s blog, where we shared our favorite tools to keep by your side when baking with kids.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
2 ¼ cups chocolate chips
Coarse salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well-combined. Gradually add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, place dough on cookie sheet separating pieces by at least 2 inches. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are crinkly and golden brown and the edges are firm. Allow cookies to rest on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes, then remove them and place on a cooling rack.