Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Recipe for Success

Boiled Raisin Cake
 I have always enjoyed baking, and now that I have two little ones, I find it to be an excellent rainy day activity. Yes, there are times they ask to bake, and I am just not in the mood, or have just finished cleaning the kitchen…but once we get going, I’m always glad I said yes. Why? Not only because the children really enjoy baking, but also because this time together offers me a wealth of opportunity to work on key academic, sensory and social skills.

It is often the goal of us homeschooling moms, and us autism moms to use every experience to our advantage, to merge play into learning so that our little ones find it hard to tell one from the other. And what better way to do this, than while whipping up something sweet? With baking, there is always a reward at the end.

How can you make baking work for your little ones? Here are a few tips:

Academic Skills in Baking

• Following a recipe is great practice in following directions.

• Depending on the age, or reading skills of your child, reprint your recipe with key words, so that your child can feel like they are reading alone. Or, use clip art, or your own fancy art work to make the recipe visual.

• Measurement skills: baking is a great way to learn about fractions. Use the standard measuring cups to learn basic fractions, or double or triple recipes to work on other fraction skills. Be creative, if a recipe calls for ½ a cup of sugar, ask your child how they could get this amount without using the ½ cup.

• Estimation: children can estimate how many cookies the recipe will yield, record their guesses, and count to check at the end.

• Skip counting: if you are making a larger batch, have children count the number of cookies by making groups of 5 or 10.

• Division: create story problems while baking. For example, you have 5 kids coming to a party, and 24 cookies. How many will each child get? How many will be left over.

• Patterning: for roll out cookies, use different cookie stampers to create patterns on the baking sheet.

Social Skills in Baking:

• Turn taking: children can take turns reading from the recipe. adding ingredients, using the mixer, fetching needed ingredients or tools, etc.

• Settling disputes: Do your kids fight over who gets to crack the eggs, or lick the spoon? Before you get into the action, have children agree upon who gets to do what. Try to let them sort this through on their own, and once the baking begins, they can work on sticking to their bargain.

• Being helpful: children love to feel helpful, not only are they helping to bake, but they can help to clean up, put away ingredients, even sweeping the floor!

• Conversation: talk about what you’re doing, ask lots of questions, reflect upon the activity, what was your favourite part?

• Paying compliments: have children compliment each other on their hard work. Maybe take turns saying what everybody did best!

Sensory Opportunities in Baking:

• Hard work of stirring stiff dough

• Rolling out dough using roller, or their bare hands.

• Kneading dough

• Get their fingers dirty! Baking has oodles of opportunities to get your child’s hands into something soft and icky.

• Lots of smelling! Experiment with calming scents (almond extract, apple, banana, butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract) or arousing scents (chocolate, coffee, lemon, orange, mint)

• Tasting

And if all this doesn’t give you enough incentive to whip out your apron and preheat the oven….perhaps the thoughts of some delicious baked goods will do the trick

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