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Go Back in Time With a Good Book
My daughter is a big fan of audio versions of Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. While the original books might be a bit much for an average attention span of a 4 year old, I also highly recommend My First Little House picture books beautifully illustrated and adapted from original books. Smarty especially enjoyed A Little House Birthday since her own birthday is coming up in two weeks. She often incorporates story lines from these books into her pretend play. There are hunting games, gathering games and “going to Kansas in the wagon” games. For some reason Smarty's wagon usually stops in Canada for a picnic – I guess Canada sounds very much like Kansas to her. She also plays building a house, but she insists that she is going to buy the wood for the house in the store, because the logs from the forest will have dirt on them and I don’t want to get splinters. And, of course, there are innumerable cooking games – something that my daughter really loves. She kept asking for a baking day like in a Little House for a while and I decided to fulfill her wish when the cloudy fall weather blew in.
Baking With Young KidsTip #1: Prepare your dough in advance. Young children don’t like waiting, so I prepared simple Betty Crocker sugar cookie recipe in advance during a lunch break on my day of working from home. The recipe was all ready to go by the time I picked her up from her preschool.
Tip #2: Don’t hope that your children will do things your way. As a math major, I always try to fit as many cookies on a rolled sheet of dough as possible. Smarty doesn’t (yet) think that way, so I gave up on directing her and just let her discover her own way to fit cookies on the sheet.
Tip #3: Give your children manageable jobs. I did all the measuring and all the mixing for the sugar icing recipe following directions from All Recipes. Smarty was in charge of mixing in food coloring - can you see how hard she concentrates on keeping her icing in the saucer?
Tip #4. Involve your children in cleaning up. Smarty usually conveniently disappears when it comes to clean up time, but this time I kept her busy with clean up while cookies baked. She was very anxious to earn her decorating rights.
Tip #5. Don’t expect your cookies to win cookie decorating awards. I let my almost 4 year old go wild with sprinkles and icing. She did as many as she wanted and was very proud of her cookie decorating skills. Yes, she was messy and sticky, but so very happy!
Tip #6. Don’t wait until dinner. Life is short, so eat dessert first… with a glass of milk. By the way, Smarty only enjoyed the very first cookie, then she firmly declared that all future cookies need to have something chocolaty in them.
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