It is autumn in the city, that time when all things pumpkin start to arrive in our lives… and into Barrow classrooms. To honor the lovely pumpkin and because my Blue room friends demanded that the next science class be baking, we made some yummy pumpkin cookies in science today. Everyone was excited! The smell was amazing, and they tasted even better than they smelled! We also took some time to read a book – “Pumpkin Jack” by Will Hubbell.
Baking offers a great way to introduce science and math concepts in a fun and engaging way. The children enjoyed working through various developmentally appropriate learning opportunities, including measuring, one-to-one correspondence, fractions, and exploring changing matter (solid, liquid, gas). Not to mention the use of the physical senses such as taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. Baking is a community experience that allows students to engage cooperatively with one another, sharing jobs, using and learning new language and terminology, creating schedules, and working together to create a treat. Baking, especially when it features seasonal and local ingredients, also offers students insight into new foods and where those foods originate.
I encourage all families to take time during the week to bake a special treat together. Find a recipe that is easy to manage for you and your family, and work together to gather the ingredients, measure, scoop, stir, bake, and enjoy the final product together. Remember, you can adjust recipes to your dietary choices and familial needs, whether that means gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, etc. The simple act of baking is important, not what you bake.
Here are a few thoughts for baking with children at home:
*Recipes should be hands-on and developmentally appropriate. Children may not be able to participate in every step, but they can help to clean, cut, mix, and assemble based on the item and recipe.
*Have all of your tools and supplies, including ingredients, ready to use and identify the name of each of these items and how to use them.
*Speak casually. Make the learning experience a conversation, not a lesson. Describe what you or your child is doing as you work. Ask questions and engage children to think critically and logically – what food looks like, how food feels or smells, what is easy/hard/more fun – stirring or pouring, etc. Make observations about the process and the job you and your child are doing.
*Have fun and enjoy. (Recipe below)
Old-fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (we did not include)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
For drizzle (we did not do):
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg, vanilla, pumpkin. Stir. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until incorporated. Scoop onto cookie sheet. Leave an inch or two between cookies. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Cool on rack. Yields 36 cookies. For drizzle: Using a mixer, mix milk, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly and mix gently until smooth. Drizzle on cooled cookies.