We bake almost every day at our center. Whole wheat rolls, baked oatmeal, banana bread, oatmeal cookies, cinnamon rolls, and apple muffins are just some of our culinary delights. It is simply wonderful to smell the baking as we carry on with our conversations and play during the morning. And it is truly nourishing to the soul. As life is busier than it was twenty years ago, and nearly all children bring pre-packaged snacks to school, (not judging!–my own children are included in the “nearly all”!) I am thankful for LifeWays (www.lifewaysofnorthamerica.org) for instilling the value of a home baked snack. Passing around a basket of warm baked rolls that just came out of the oven and pausing for a moment of nourishment and conversation is an important part of our morning.
Our center, being one of a high academic standard, values the process of start to finish. Let’s take a look at the baking process. What are children learning?
1. There is a literacy component as the caregiver reads a recipe. The recipe is usually on the table so the children observe reading and following written directions.
2. Of course, there’s the math component as we measure out the ingredients, and count the eggs or scoops.
3. Vocabulary: baking powder, flour, yeast, knead, mixture, etc.
4. When baking with a several children, they have a wonderful experience in social/emotional learning. They need to share in the stirring process, seomtimes face the fact that no, they do not get to crack the egg this time, and take turns in measuring and pouring.
5. Children utilize gross motor and fine motor skills as they pour, lift heavy bowls to combine mixtures, crack eggs, use an egg beater, or grate apples.
6. And Science! Baking is all about science–different substances, textures, mixtures…we have a dry mixture and a wet mixture–which bowl do you think the milk goes in? What is going to happen when we combine these two mixtures? How does dough feel when we don’t have enough flour?
7. Lastly, but my list may not even be complete, is the opportunity to be an engaged learner: is the child sticking with the task at hand? (when baking? ALWAYS) Can the child follow directions? We have had a few mishaps here and there–3 eggs when I said two, or another dosage of salt…but overall our snacks are pretty tasty.
Betcha didn’t know that some yeast and flour could do all that…?