Baking projects are great for young kids for so many reasons and on so many developmental levels. The act of baking with a group teaches and encourages turn-taking, patient waiting, and teamwork. Fine motor skills are tested when kids help measure out ingredients, dump them in the bowl, and stir them all together. Cognitively, baking demonstrates concepts like transformation and chemical reactions, and even the youngest kids can begin to puzzle out the way that we mix all these things up, put them in an oven (“hot!”), then take out a seemingly different product, but because they’re involved in the whole process, they can really start to connect the dots and see the before and after as one thing, instead of separate things. As an added bonus, baking can foster confidence and accomplishment, because what better reward for lots of physical, emotional, and cognitive work than a baked good – especially one you can say you made yourself!
We like to bake with T1 kids because of all these benefits, and also because these projects are often connected to things they’re interested in. For example, before the winter break we made seasonally topical festive cookies by decorating sugar cookies with a colored cream cheese “icing” (just milk and cream cheese), and recently we made muffins because of our class-wide interest in the book “If You Give a Moose a Muffin.” Feel free to ask teachers for ways to to involve your kiddos in baking projects at home – we have lots of ideas!