Published December 17, 2010 by
Kids love to help out in the kitchen. Children of every age love the rewards of helping bake their very own cookies. And it’s a special time to make memories with mom, dad, friends or grandparents. Cookie gifts are perfect for any occasion! Perhaps you’re envisioning a kitchen dusted with flour on every surface and a mixer gone mad with splashed batter. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have fun with the kids and still keep order and bake some tasty results.
Start off by asking everybody to wash their hands with soap and hot water. Remind everyone that hygiene is of the utmost importance when baking. Ask anyone with long hair to tie it back and you do the same. Give everyone an apron so they can feel like official cookie bakers.
Remind children not to stick their fingers near the mixer and briefly go over safety rules about knives and other tools. You don’t want to be a drill sergeant, but you don’t want any accidents either.
Now comes the fun. Kids should be given jobs appropriate to their age level. Give little ones a step stool so they can reach the counter tops or seat them at a table and work there. Little ones can use plastic or butter knives to cut certain ingredients. They can also use measuring cups and spoons. You can get a quick math lesson or two in at the same time. Talking about halves and quarters is much more fun when you can see a half cup of chocolate chips going in the batter.
Older children can help with many more of the steps. Put the oldest in charge of gathering all the ingredients, reading the recipe and chopping nuts or other ingredients. Give everyone a role so they feel included. Older children can be in charge of timing the cookies and taking them out as well.
Show how each ingredient goes in and let even the littlest ones dump a few ingredients in so they feel like they helped. Sing carols or have music playing while you bake.
Have children help you grease pans, scoop dough out, or roll dough out. Let children make their own creations out of rolled cookie dough. They will often want to free-form their cookies rather than use only cookie cutters. Let them experiment. Your cookie tray may look like an alien landing zone by the time they get through with it, but they all will have had fun.
While the cookies are baking, ask everyone to help clean up. Have the little ones hand you items or sweep the floor with a little broom. They’ll love being chosen as the helper. Don’t leave any knives or other sharp objects soaking in dishwater where children might plunge their hands in to help.
When the cookies come out, no one is going to want to wait for them to cool. Have ice cold milk at the ready and start plating the cookies for them to devour. Cookies taste so much better when you see how they are made and the ingredients and hard work that went into them.