Baking School – A Children’s Cookbook Review

As you know from my many posts on teaching my children to cook and bake, we love spending time in the kitchen learning and eating! Therefore, I was delighted when I was asked to review a brand new cookbook Kid Chef Bakes: The Kid’s Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers. As you know from my review of their other children’s cookbook, I love the style the book is written in for teaching young people in the kitchen, so I was looking forward to the potential offered in this new book.

Book Layout

Upon receiving the cookbook I saw that it was indeed in the same layout as the Kid Chef bookI love that the book starts with general rules, tips, and tricks for setting up a baker’s kitchen. The book starts out with an educational overview of the purposes of main ingredients used in baking as well as common baking tools. I also love that the book reviews safety tips and techniques, which are a great review for me and a wonderful lesson for my kids who are just getting started. The book then goes into my favorite part, 7 different lessons, each outlined to read to your child, teaching a different focused skill, followed by a recipe to use the skill. The lessons are 2-4 pages long and are perfect for ages 7+. The book then goes into typical cookbook format with tons of recipes to try out.

Book Highlights

Often times I feel like children’s baking cookbooks can get stuck on cookies, cupcakes, and other sweets. While this book definitely has it’s share of sugary goodness, I love that there is some variety in the recipes. The 7 lessons in the book range from snacks, to sweets, to yeast bread for pizza. The recipes included in the book have main dishes, sides, sweets, snacks, and more. I also love that they do not shy away from more difficult recipes, such as yeast dough for crusts and bread, and pie crusts for pies and quiches. However, there are a few cheats in the book such as using store-bought puff pastry and phyllo dough. I do concur though that some pastry recipes such as puff pastry and phyllo dough, can be quite daunting for a child, they were for me as a grown adult with many years of baking experience under my belt. I remember standing with my friend folding a pound of butter into a pastry wondering if we were doing it right and why on earth we wouldn’t just buy the pastry from the store.

The book also gives several recipes that use the same base recipe (homemade pizza dough and pie crust) allowing your little one to practice their skills over and over with different outcomes. This also teaches versatility with the same recipe — a skill that will last them a lifetime!

While there are a few whole grain recipes in the book, I would really like to see more. I would also love to see a lesson or chapter talking about how to incorporate whole grains into baking, and how the recipe must be changed to accommodate the difference. This may be a little more complex for a very young child, but as our country struggles with obesity, I think it is important that we teach our young children how to eat healthy, which starts in the kitchen.

My children working on this apple pie are ages 6, 5, and 3. The 6 and 5 year old cut up apples, while the 3 year old put them in the bowl and I peeled. All kiddos helped with the crust and seasoning the apples.

Conclusions

I love this book and will differently be planning days to work through all the “lessons”, most likely even a few times. The lessons have a nice layout to teach skills that are used in baking every day across recipes and cookbooks. I also love the variety of baking recipes offered in the book. We will be using this book regularly for fun treats, main dishes, and special days when my little people are cooking. However, I will definitely be incorporating some of my other healthier and whole grain baking recipes and books in the mix. While sugary sweets taste good and are pleasing to the eye, they are not a healthy addiction I would like my children to depend on. They are a special treat for special times. I would love to see a whole grains baking cookbook come out next, maybe pick up the baking lessons where this one left off, delving into the healthier side of baking.

If you are looking for a fun cookbook for your little one this Christmas that can lead to learning, fun, family memories, and some good things to eat, I definitely recommend you check this book out!

Kid Chef Bakes: The Kid’s Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers

If you are looking for a regular cookbook (vs. a baking cookbook), check out these other reviews on other children’s cookbooks I love:

Kid Chef Cookbook

DK Kids Cookbooks

Cooking Lessons – Teaching Someone Else to Make Amazing Food

If you know me well, you know I LOVE good food! I am one of those people that thinks about what I am going to eat at my next meal while I am currently eating a meal. My husband on the other hand, really just eats food to survive. He could have Cheerios every day for every meal… we literally have probably 20 boxes of plain cheerios in my kitchen right now, not for the kids, for my husband. So, one of my many goals in life is to raise my children to be food lovers, I need someone to help me in the kitchen with my food obsession!

You will find some of my favorite children’s cookbooks in previous posts. We still use these cookbooks frequently, however I just found a new one at the library and HAD to share: Kid Chef by Melina Hammer .

The book starts with cooking lessons, each lesson is 2-6 pages long followed by a recipe to practice the learned skills. My 6 year old has been cooking with me since she was 2 and knows many basic skills, she is still loving this book. I can’t believe how much she is soaking in. I do wish there were a few more pictures like the DK cookbooks, but this is the first book I have found that has actual lessons to teach your child. For lunch today my three little people (ages 6, 4 & 3) were learning knife skills slicing, chopping, and dicing, they made an amazing fresh salsa! I would have taken a picture, but I was too busy eating it over quesadillas. The text part of the lesson can get a little long, I think this book is PERFECT for ages 5 and up.

I originally questioned what the author meant by “healthy”, but I have been pleasantly surprised. The salsa they made today was full of fresh veggies, fruit and herbs, the French toast did not add any sugar, and most the recipes we have tried and looked at have been similar.

I know this picture below looks a like everything is clean and tidy… I will tell you this is the lesson that they learn to use the stove top, it got a little stressful having all 3 involved, especially when they had to figure out how to crack the egg onto a hot skillet! They made French Toast, Fried Eggs, and I cut up some fruit to go with it. No one was burned and the food tasted great!

The Car Book Box

As our home library of children’s books began to grow I started to get duplicate books, or books I did not really care to read. For some reason my children LOVE the books I do not like… I think they like to torture me. Since this is the case I always feel bad donating those books that they love so dearly. Now the go to the Car Book Box.

The Car book box is a box of books that I do not mind getting ruined or lost. They sit in a tucked away spot in our car. When my children load up to go somewhere (anywhere), they may pick out 1-2 books to look at. This has resulted in the quietest car rides EVER, they look at books and I get some peace. Once we arrive at our destination, the books go back in the box.

Seats and situations have moved around a little in our van, so now we have 2 bags of books. These bags I made tie to around the headrest of the seat in front of their seat. I prefer the box, but the bags stay out of the way more.

Happy Reading!

Classic Starts Novels

While looking for novels to read to my 4 & 5 year olds at the library I ran across the Classic Starts novels. These novels are retold from the original classic novels. I have been so excited about them it is hard not to take 4 or 5 when I am at the library. I try to limit myself to 2 (in case we do not like one). I figure this is a great preview of the novels, and they are short enough and easy enough to understand we can read 1 chapter a day. When the children get older, if it was a novel they enjoyed I plan to read the original version.

We are still new to this collection, here are the ones we have tried:

Cooking Lessons

One of my passions is cooking and baking. My children of course want to join me in the kitchen frequently. Around age 3 I started to give my daughter more freedom and responsibility in the kitchen.

We started at the library by checking out several children’s cookbooks. We found that DK has an excellent line of children’s cookbooks, they are easy healthy recipes with great pictures and excellent instructions. These are the ones we have tried and enjoy:


Making the Menu

Now that school is in session we are not keeping up with this schedule, however this summer my daughter would plan dinner at least once a week and was responsible for cooking the meal (under my guidance). While planning her meal she also would find other recipes she wanted to try and we would work those into the menu for the week as well.

We talked about food groups and having a balanced diet and eating a variety of healthy foods while we made our menu for the week. We also talked about what foods were healthy and what foods were not healthy. As school got started we printed out a picture of the “My Plate” from the USDA and laminated it. My daughter uses this picture to check off each food group and make sure that her lunch is healthy, continuing her lessons in food throughout the school year.

If healthy food and food groups or teaching your children about healthy eating are new to you, I would recommend checking out https://www.choosemyplate.gov/. They have a variety of resources, tips, and tools for healthy eating education.

The Grocery List

Once we work together to create our menu for the week we go through the recipes and make sure we have all the ingredients in the recipes, if we do not then they go on our grocery list.

Making The Meal

When it comes to her night to “cook” we both wash our hands and go to the kitchen. I always plan that dinner will take longer to prepare on these nights since I am also teaching her things like how to hold a hot pan at the stove, or letting her stir etc. Depending on where things are I tell her what to get out (or I get them out for her), I show her how to measure and pour, how to mix, knead, and stir. At age 4 or 5 I let her hold the pan on the stove while she stirs, go over what is hot and what is not. I am right there with her the whole time, teaching and guiding. Once dinner is ready and on the table she has pride in her accomplishments.

Passing on Your Passions

Every person in life has some passion, some hobby, some interest that at one point in life has been something they pursued. My children are interested in what I am interested in, they still young, they watch me and want to be like me. What better way to pass on your passions than to spend time with your children teaching them the very basics of your passion. I find that I often learn a lot myself, improving my skill.

passing-down

Some of my hobbies I have been teaching my children more formally are:

  • Sewing
  • Piano
  • Cooking & Baking
  • Drawing

I want to encourage you to share your passions with your little ones. Start small and easy, make it fun. Use this time to teach and develop a relationship with your child, not as a time to be efficient and get things done. Depending on the age of your child and the task at hand your progress may be slow.

Getting started

My topics I listed above started with finding a beginner children’s book at the library. Depending on your library, there are a lot of resources in the children’s non-fiction section. I checked out several books on each topic and my children and I looked at them together. Once I decided what books I liked I purchased them for us to use and keep at home. A book written for the audience of children are is a great place to start since sometimes it is hard to generate “lessons” for such a young age group. Stop by your library or check out an online resource to see what you can find for the hobby you want to share with your children.

Creative Arts-Homeschool Preschool Ideas

Creative arts are part of childhood, imagination, play, exploration. Often I have a hard time knowing if my children believe the story they are telling or know it is imaginary. Creativity is not just important for entertainment and joy, but also for success in research, science, architecture, general problem solving, and more.

Here are some ideas for incorporating creative arts into your schedule:

  • Acting
    • Act out a story, have fun putting together costumes or just be spontaneous
    • Let your child illustrate a story and write out their narration
    • Make puppets and put on a play
      • paper bag puppets
      • paper plate puppets with a Popsicle stick handle
  • Drawing
    • Art Bin
      • I keep a art bin on a kitchen shelf for easy access to art supplies
        • I bought my at target for a few $$ similar to this one:

        • I try to rotate the art supplies
        • Give them freedom to be creative instead of “correct”
    • Canvas Painting
      • Give them a canvas and some paint and let them have fun
        • if you want to get creative and use it for decor use some painters tape to make a design before your children paint (i.e. snowflakes, hearts etc.)
    • Art Hub for kids has some great info and demos for even the youngest artists
  • Music
    • Listen to a variety of music
      • in the car
      • quiet time
      • family time
    • Dance to music
    • Use rhythm instruments
  • Imagination
    • Allow children to use their imagination, encourage it, I do draw the line though when I ask questions, I sometimes ask them to tell me “I’m pretending”
    • Pretend a different ending to a story you are reading, encourage them to use their imagination
    • Play with them, pretend
    • Encourage them to “problem solve”
      • when they have a problem, brainstorm solutions with them
    • Give your child a “story starter”, make something up or try something from a book, I saw this in a store once, I found it very intriguing, but have yet to buy it:

Above all else, allow them freedom in their creativity, it does not have to be perfect. When they draw, act or play, the important thing is to have fun and be creative. 

For more posts in this series check out:

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Reading Skills

Math Skills

Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills- Homeschool Preschool Ideas

Fine motor skills are important for so much. They are foundation skills for writing, scissors, tying shoes, zippers, buttons etc. Here are some homeschool preschool ideas that help develop fine motor skills along with other abilities.

Consider adding these to your homeschool preschool calendar:

  • Sort buttons into a muffin tin or ice cube tray
  • Sponge- using 2 bowls, soak up water in one bowl and squeeze it out in the other bowl
  • Pouring and scooping
    • using 2 small pitchers pour back and forth
      • sand
      • water
      • beans
      • rice
      • beads
    • Scoop the items back and forth from bowls
    • This can be a great time to teach the life skill of cleaning up too!

Tools and Activities

These are some of our favorite fine motor tools

  • Fine motor tool set
    • use two bowls and move the items back and forth
      • beans
      • beads

  • Wikki Stix
    • Our set came with letter cards which the kids LOVE shaping the stix into
    • You could also laminate numbers and shape the stix into numbers to work on math
    • You could also develop some creativity by making shapes or pictures out of the wikki stix

  • Eye dropper set (there is also a single eye dropper in the fine motor tool set above)
    • We use this to move water back and forth
    • You could color the water and see what happens when you mix colors

  • Kumon Workbooks
    • these are great for teaching your little one (ages 2+) some basic skills




You are the Teacher

Remember homeschool preschool is not giving your child a bunch of things to do and walking away. This can be child led, and should be, but you are the guide. A child cannot practice something they do not know. You are here to show them how and then guide them as they practice.

For our family, homeschool preschool has been a great time to bond and grow our relationship as we have fun learning and doing together.

For more posts in this series check out:

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Reading Skills

Math Skills

Math Skills- Homeschool Preschool Ideas

If you have been following along, this is the 3rd post in the Homeschool Preschool Ideas Series.  Today we will focus on Math skills. Math starts with understanding how to count, group, sort, and pattern. I love doing these basic math skills with my kids, you can transfer your lessons into every part of life, walking, clothes, food, etc.

Here are some ideas to add to your calendar:

Counting:

  • Start with 1-10, then go 11-20, then start counting by tens and fives, count everything
  • Going along with my last homeschool preschool ideas post, we love reading counting books
    • books specific for developing counting have numbers and increase or decrease by one on each page
    • you can count in any book, count animals, count flowers, count people, count food–just get that repetition going
  • Count stairs as you go up or down
  • Count food or snacks
  • Count how many people are in your family
  • Play a game counting toes
  • Lay out numbers (magnetic numbers or numbered spoons or numbered paper), remove 1 number, ask your child to identify the missing number
  • Talk about the the ‘number’ for the day (the date)
  • Put a Popsicle stick in a jar every day for a month, count each stick every day, when the month is over, empty the jar and start over
  • Jump and count
    • Just count how many times you jump
    • Look up the song Jump and Count on you tube
    • Write out numbers 1-10 on pieces of paper, lay them around the room, have child jump in order on numbers

Grouping and Sorting:

Grouping and sorting starts by identifying similarities and differences.

  • When reading, compare characters or pictures, talk about how they are the same and how they are different, ask your child to identify these things
  • Find similarities and differences when in nature
    • how are the pine cones the same, how are they different
    • sort rocks into piles by color, shape, or size
  • Sort fruits or veggies by type or color
  • Sort buttons into a muffin tin by color or shape or size

Patterning:

My daughter (now 6) has always LOVED patterns, and loves to point them out.  I have several tangible tools I have bought to help with patterning, but these are not necessary, usually you have items at home you can use (i.e. two kinds of pasta, buttons, beads etc.).

Some of my favorite tools:

  • Counting Bears, have child make an “ababab” pattern, once they understand that you can move to an “abcabcabc” pattern

  • Snap cubes are another favorite, usually I start by making a pattern and then the child makes a copy or adds to my pattern

  • Buttons are another favorite for so many activities, again, have child make a pattern by copying you or adding to your pattern, or once they understand the concept making their own pattern

Other ways to make patterns:

  • Watch for patterns in the world, they are everywhere, point them out and show the child how it repeats the same thing over and over
  • Make a pattern with food
  • Make a pattern when coloring
  • Look for patterns on clothing

Writing Numbers

Writing numbers use the same skill as writing letters but also re-enforce the child’s ability to identify different numbers.

More Ideas

To continue to get more homeschool preschool ideas continue to follow along weekly through the month of March. Here are other posts to check out in this series:

READY! for Kindergarten

Reading Together- Homeschool Preschool Ideas

Imagination Library

Reading is such a valuable tool for parenting. It prepares your little people for reading, it builds relationships between the reader and listener, it opens the opportunity to teach lessons and start conversations. Plus, it is nice and cozy to help your little one wind down and prepare for bed time or quiet time.

Building Your Home Library

The problem may be having books to read. We LOVE the library!! There are so many books and it is so fun to try new ones every time, however we do not always get to the library to refresh our books. We have worked to build our home library. My mother was kind enough to subscribe me to a book program when I became pregnant with my first child, this started our library. Over the years we have received books as gifts, and I have found several at yard sales. I occasionally buy books on amazon, I prefer used. New book prices are SO high!!

The Imagination Library

When we moved to our current town we were delighted to find out about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This is a free resource for families with children ages birth-age 5. For each child ages birth-age 5 a book is mailed free of charge each month to their home, this is a total of 60 books for each child. My oldest has out grown the program, but my other two are still enrolled.

Dolly Partons Imagination Library

I do not LOVE every book we receive, in fact some I do not like. The ones I do not like go in our donation box. Most the books are great, some we absolutely love. They add variety to our home library, and the kids love getting books in the mail.

To see if the imagination library is available in your area check out:

https://imaginationlibrary.com/