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Baking with Kids in the Kitchen and Pretend Play

Fun ways to start cooking and baking with the kids in the kitchen, plus fun baking themed pretend play ideas for kids.

From making applesauce to pizza dough science to felt food, this post is full of fun ways to learn through cooking with kids!

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Every child I know loves to bake. Whether in a real or play kitchen, kids are enthusiastic chefs who aren’t afraid to jump in and try a new recipe. This week’s Virtual Book Club for Kids book was the Numeroff classic, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I’m sharing some great ways to get kids baking – and cooking – to go along with the book. Some of the activities are for a real kitchen, and others are for pretend kitchens. We recommend this play kitchen, if you’re looking for a great one.

Fun Ways to Start Baking with Kids in the Kitchen

Baking with kids in the kitchen and pretend play

While not technically baking, applesauce is one of the first things our kids help make in the kitchen, but I find that kids are happy to help cook or bake anything. We make pizza dough and pasta sauce, as well as cookies and pancakes.

Tips for Baking With Kids

These simple tips help to make baking with kids fun for everyone!

  • Start simple. These instant pizzas are easy and fun to make. So are cinnamon pumpkin brownies.
  • Let them do as much as possible. Wherever possible, let your child do the work! You may be surprised at how much of the cooking or baking work they can do, given close supervision. We use butter knives to slice apples for applesauce, but a chef friend gave his son a sharp knife. The child was allowed to use the knife ONLY when his other hand was behind his back.
  • Get creative. Let your child plan the menu for the day, and take them shopping for the ingredients you need. Maybe even let them try adding secret ingredients to your recipes!

Favorite Baking Themed Pretend Play Ideas

Wonderful baking activities for kids - both edible and non-edible!

These no-sew felt cookies take minutes to make and are always a hit with the kids! Melissa & Doug make a cute wooden cookie baking set, if you are looking for something more sophisticated.

Honestly, though, you don’t need special toys for food. My kids use pattern blocks – designed as math manipulatives – as play food all the time. You can transform bits of felt into all sorts of pretend foods. The internet is full of felt food patterns. I have free patterns for felt bread and felt pumpkin pie.

Baking with Kids with Pretend Food

Looking for some pretend food play inspiration? My kids enjoy these activities:

  • Make a restaurant with menus.
  • Set up shops and buy different foods from one another.
  • Use toys like pattern blocks to create ornate “pastries”
  • Make food out of play dough.

What are your favorite pretend baking activities for kids?

More Baking Themed Learning Activities for Kids

As always, my co-hosts came up with some great baking-themed learning activities! All of these activities pair beautifully with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. They also work well with our recommended alternate read, Pinkalicious.


2016-17 season virtual book club for kids books and activities

Click on the image above to see all of the themes, books, and activities for this year’s 2016-17 Virtual Book Club for Kids! I am updating the page as new posts go live.

Do you have a baking themed learning activity for children that we should try? How about a felt food pattern for us to try? How about a kindness themed book we need to read? Let me know in the comments. You can also share photos as well as book suggestions and activity ideas on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

8 thoughts on “Baking with Kids in the Kitchen and Pretend Play”

  1. One of my goals is to get the kids in the kitchen more with me this year. So many good reminders here of why I need to do it more MaryAnne. Thanks for cohosting the Virtual Book Club for Kids this week!

  2. My kids love to cook, and fortunately my husband is patient in the kitchen with them. Crustless quiches are fun and satisfying, and healthy, way to get kids baking.

  3. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    I like the advice to let them start as early as possible and let them do as much as possible. They need to develop competence for future life!

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