Cooking and baking with kiddos is a fun way to spend some family time. We completely understand that while it can be enjoyable, it can also be frustrating and messy for parents. Therefore it isn't an activity that can be done every day. However, that being said, if you can make some time for it once a week, there are many benefits. This post will list vocabulary that could be paired with many baking activities, but specifically refers to muffins. We recommend doing a search for an easy muffin recipe because there are many available on the internet. Some only have three ingredients for those kiddos who have difficulty attending to a task for a long time. The pictures we will be showing are from pumpkin muffins we made yesterday. While we will be discussing vocabulary and language as related to cooking, remember that there are many other useful skills that can be targeted during baking. Children can learn measurement, fractions, sequencing of steps, following directions, safety skills (like not touching the oven), and patience (Waiting for delicious baked treats is hard!) to name a few.
Nouns: names of specific ingredients and tools (i.e. muffin tin, spoons, flour, sugar), oven,
Pronouns: I, me, you, we
Verbs: get, put, push, open, pour, scoop, crack/break, mix, bake, eat,
Adjectives: more, wet, dry, lumpy, smooth, fragrant, delicious, hot, fluffy,
Questions: what, who, where, when
1. Start by having your child place the baking cups into the tin. You can count out the cups together to make sure you have enough first. Before each step, you can model the asking and answering of questions to help your kiddo learn this skill. You can say, "Where do we need to put these cups?" "Oh we put them in the muffin tin!." "What do we need? Flour!" "Who should open the oven? I will! So we can stay safe!." After a few times doing this, your child may be able to answer some of your questions!
2. Next, have your child add the ingredients. Verbally label each ingredient and the action required. (i.e. First, we need flour. Let's scoop the flour and pour it in the bowl.) If they are young or just have difficulty with the motor demands of the task, you can scoop the ingredient and just have them pour it. This minimizes frustration and mess.
3. Once all the ingredients have been added, your child can mix. Children usually like this part! Model how you want them to stir first. Use an extra large bowl because this also minimizes the mess. (Ingredients are less likely to splash out.)
4. Lastly, assist your child in pouring or spooning the mix into the muffin tin.
5. Reinforce safety skills by reminding them that only adults take things in and out of the oven.
6. Remember to use positive reinforcement to encourage your child throughout the process. If they have a good experience during baking, they are more likely to want to revisit the task which can reinforce the learned vocabulary. You can compliment whatever job they do well. (i.e. "I like how carefully you poured out the flour!' "Wow, you mixed that really well! It isn't lumpy anymore!" "You are doing great waiting for the muffins to be done. Waiting is so hard!").
7. Also, try to infuse describing words into each step of the activity. (i.e. When taking the muffins out, you can say "Wow! These are too HOT to eat! We have to wait a little to eat them!" or, While mixing you can say, "Look how smooth the batter is now!")