Cooking with children is an activity that I have done with both my own children, and the ones I used to child mind. You can simply let the children help with baking, my own children used to like to stand on a chair beside me so that they could reach the kitchen worktop and help to stir and mix the ingredients together, then spoon the mixture into the cake cases.
They also liked to lick out the mixing bowl, but be aware that cake mixture will contain raw eggs. Children love to help with pastry too. Mince pie making was a favourite, as they could roll out the pastry and fill the tarts with the mincemeat. Let children have some of their own pastry and cut shapes and decorate with raisins and sultanas.
A favourite with the child minded children was at Easter. We made Easter nests, by mixing shredded wheat with chocolate and spooned it into nest shapes, When cool, place 3 or 4 mini eggs inside and you could even pop a yellow chick decoration (widely available for little cost, at this time of year) on top.
At Christmas, we made marzipan fruits by simply colouring the marzipan with a little food colouring and making fruit shapes.To achieve the mottled effect of orange skin, gently roll the marzipan against the fine side of a cheese grater then push a clove into the top for the stem, cloves also look effective on an apple, as the core, or a stalk at the end of a banana.
Don’t forget the simplest idea of mixing rice crispies, or corn flakes with chocolate, to make cakes that even young children can prepare, with little supervision as these won’t require cooking. My son used to enjoy making cookie dough, for the child minded children to roll and cut out Christmas themed shapes, they would decorate when cool with tubes of coloured icing.
Cooking with children can also be a good way of encouraging them to talk, about anything that may be worrying them, as they are not having to look an adult in the eye, but can carry on with what they doing, while chatting.
Always take care when children are in the kitchen, keep them away from a hot oven and ensure that sharp knives are well out of harms reach ( as they should always be!)
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