We had so much fun with these cookies! They are kind of tricky, I have to admit even my cookies didn’t end up that great. So, it was so sweet to see my kids experiment and figure out how to make these candy canes. A food blogger or someone looking for a food blog about candy cane cookies is going to be sorely disappointed in the quality of our outcome. But I think they are precious! For the full recipe go to this week’s activity plan, here. And if you need a little pick me up before you start, go here to read about my take on cooking and baking with young children. Mainly, remember this activity is for them and let them have at it!
These are the pictures you get when your six year old gets a hold of the camera! More 6-year old photos to come.
We used packaged sugar cookie dough. It’s the season of baking, don’t try to do too much or you’ll go crazy. Take some shortcuts when you can.
Split your dough in half. One half will be left the way it is for the white part of the candy cane, and the other you will mix in red food color and peppermint (if you want). I didn’t feel up to having the kids blend in their red food coloring and peppermint flavor. I figure this activity has enough for them to take part in, I’m going to go ahead and mix it up. I tried it in the mixer, but it ended up just working better to fold it in by hand. Just pour a little on, and literally fold over the sides over and over until its well blended.
Caught red handed!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I decided once it was done to portion out each color of dough so that each child had an equal amount. Then they could just jump right into rolling out the dough and making the candy canes.
Last thing I did was demonstrate what on earth we were trying to do. I showed them how to roll it out and twist them together, and then they took over.
Just like playing with dough or clay, this cooking activity offers some great fine motor opportunities. Rolling into a ball and then into a rope shape does not come naturally. It takes time to develop a feel and control over those muscles to make it work.
Then, add the twisting of the two, while keeping the dough from breaking is a real challenge. Knowing which way to twist each color is a bit of a problem solving activity. Trust me when I say they will benefit the most and have the most fun if you just let them do it, try, and maybe fail. Just like everything else, let’s devote this one to them getting to experiment.
These are what we ended up with! I was really impressed! That little guy in the corner of the picture on the left is my three year old’s rendition of the candy cane. Now, a quick note here… as you know the 1-4 year old attention span is very short. So, he probably did 5 or 6 cookies completely on his own, and they all looked like this which is totally adorable in my opinion. I probably helped with an additional 5 or 6 to keep him interested and to keep him from getting frustrated. So, I say “give your child freedom”, but you know your child best. Read their needs and adapt to make it more interesting for them, insert yourself when it is getting to be too much, too frustrating, or boring.
My 6 year old also joined us, and she is to the age that she did finish all of her cookies by herself. The pan on the right is her, completely independent, “no-help-from-mom-at-all” cookies!
Have I mentioned lately that getting to experience and watch something change from one state to another is a science activity? Turn the light on and your child will have a blast watching the cookies transform!
And here they are! My kids had so much fun and were so proud of their accomplishment when they came out of the oven! Yours will be too!
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