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10 Tips for Successful Baking with Children

Whether you are painting cookies or decorating a birthday cake, you'll teach your child valuable skills in the kitchen. Most importantly, you'll build relationships and teach life lessons that will last forever. Here are some tips to make the experience with your child a success.

1. Keep it safe.Teach your kids safety. Keep younger children away from a hot stove and sharp knives. Even very young children will want to put the flour in the mixing bowl or break an egg. Turn the mixer off and let them do it.

2. Keep it simple.Choose simpler recipes and quicker recipes for young kids. Kids love to get their hands in the dough. Consider a cookie recipe, like snickerdoodles, where the cookies are hand-formed.

3. Make it feel good.Overlook boo-boo's like egg shells in the dough. Praise often even if the product isn't perfect. When a mess happens, take it in stride and don't voice blame.

4. Build kids not cookies.The kitchen makes an excellent classroom. Help the child read and interpret the directions--learning to follow written instructions is an important life skill. Help the child understand the fractions found in most recipes. With older kids, use the opportunity to pass a little wisdom along—even if it slows down the project.

5. Take your time.Neither you nor your kids will enjoy the experience if you're fighting the clock. It takes twice as long to bake with kids--it's just worth it.

6. Keep it clean.Teach good hygiene habits. Teach kids to wash their hands often and to clean and disinfect the counters. Help them use clean dish cloths and dish towels.

7. Teach ingredients.Teach them the basics of ingredients. Explain how yeast works or baking soda. Show them the difference between granulated sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners' sugar.

8. Keep that food safe.Teach them food safety principles. Make them aware of dangerous bacteria and how they thrive. Teach them to keep hot foods hot (over 140 degrees) and cold foods cold (under 40 degrees).

9. Consider mixes.Have a few mixes on hand for cooking with kids. With a mix, there is less that can go wrong. Since it takes less time to bake, a mix may be more suitable for a child's attention span or may better fit an available block of time.

10. Clean it up.Teach them to clean up as they go and afterwards. Let them know that the job is not done until the kitchen is clean.

These tips are courtesy ofThe Prepared Pantry.
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