Sorta-Montessori : Baking with a Toddler | The Speckled Goat: Sorta-Montessori : Baking with a Toddler


Sorta-Montessori : Baking with a Toddler

For the past year or so, I've been working to incorporate some Montessori principles into our home life. Sort of. In all honesty, we're pretty far from a full-out Montessori home. We don't follow all the "rules," but we fit the philosophy to our lifestyle and the needs of our own family. And so far, it's working for us.

One of the things we've been enjoying this spring and summer are our baking days! We usually try to do some baking every other week or so -- my goal was to bake every week, but our schedule this summer just hasn't allowed for that. (Most of the time, my hands are pretty full and I don't take any pictures, so most of these pictures are from when we made Daddy's birthday cake!)

We started working together in the kitchen when Evert was 18 months old, and I was a little hesitant to get started at first (the mess! the fingers in everything! the time it takes! the eating of raw batter!). And yes, all of those things happen. It takes three times as long to include Evert as it would if I just did it myself, and there's always lots of clean up - of the child and of the kitchen.

However, the simple activity of doing a little baking includes so many learning experiences that it totally makes it worth all the time and mess. Little Evert loves it, but even more than that, there are so, so many things he's learning on our baking days!

Here's a look at a couple of the "lessons" he's learning.

Life Skill : Hand Washing

Before we can cook, we wash our hands. We wash hands a lot around here, but this is another opportunity to practice!

Early Math : Counting

Eventually, baking will involve measuring, too, but right now, I measure out any ingredients and have them ready to pour.

Confession - we have done all our baking so far with boxed mixes, so there's not a ton of measuring going on, anyway! Someday we'll move to making more things "from scratch," but for now, boxed mixes are working great and require waaaaay less prep time.

Usually, though, even boxed cake mix calls for counting eggs!

Evert counts out the eggs as I take them from the carton, and then we count them as I crack them into the bowl, and then usually Evert has to count them again once they're in the bowl.

Motor Skill : Pouring Solids and Liquids

Evert pours the cake mix (or brownie mix, or whatever) into the mixing bowl, and then he pours the measured wet ingredients, too. It takes some concentration and control to do this pouring!

Motor Skill : Stirring

We don't have child-sized utensils, as Montessori would recommend, so Evert just used adult sized spoons or spatulas. Seems to go okay.

I do the first couple stirs so the powder doesn't go everywhere, but then I let him go to town stirring.

Physics : Watching the Batter Drip into the Bowl

Bonus learning. Evert loves to stir, and he also loves holding the spoon and watching the batter drip off the spoon into the bowl.

For a while I didn't realize this was what he was doing. He'd just sit still and stare at the bowl. I kind of thought that he was waiting for instructions... but nope. Just observing. He starts stirring again when he's watched it long enough, so I just wait and say nothing while he learns.

Social Skill : Taking Turns

When we stir the batter, sometimes it's Evert's turn, sometimes it's Mama's turn. He's getting pretty good at handing over the spoon willingly and waiting patiently while it's my turn!

Motor Skill : Scraping

I pour the majority if the batter into the pan, and then let him scrape some of the batter off the sides, too. We're still working on that - it takes a lot of control!

Life Skill : Dishes to Dishwasher

I take care of all the oven stuff, so I put the pan in the oven, and then we work on cleaning up.

Evert loves the dishwasher, and this is one time I let him load it himself. (I put in the heavy mixing bowl, though).

Life Skill : Wiping the Table

Then it's back to the table to wipe up any spills (and there are always spills!)

Evert wipes his high chair tray after every meal, so he's pretty well versed in wiping, but again, this is another chance to practice!

(This is my favorite picture of him wiping! Haha. He was actually upset because I told him he was all done wiping, the table was clean!)

Language : Talking about Everything

Evert is a talker - he has lots and lots of words already! We chat while we bake.

I give him the terms for what he's doing, tell him the names of what he's using or seeing, and we also talk about why we're baking (Daddy's birthday? To have a treat with supper? To make for when grandma visits?)

The more we talk, the more words he acquires. He's now using phrases he learned while baking-- like "mix dough, "make Daddy BIRF-day cake!!!," "crack eggies," "wipe table off."

Not only is baking together fun, but it's also such a great learning tool! We're really enjoying it, and learning a lot, and I'm so grateful we've gotten to have these experiences together!

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