One Stop Bake Shop: “Sweet Treats” Kindergarten Bakery

 

I’ve taught kindergarten for many years, but I never feel like my program has become boring or repetitive. I strive to keep things fresh and always try to enhance the activities, lessons and play areas to keep things fun and engaging. I definitely have a creative side and luckily teaching is a job that allows me to infuse my program with creativity and frankly, its what keeps me inspired. Every year or so, I try to create a new dramatic play space for my kinders. We have a Boston Pizza Restaurant, Vet, Post Office and Deli that we rotate through along with our standard house center. The students love dramatic play and these areas are always a hit. A few years ago, I decided I would love to create a bakery, but knew that it would be a huge undertaking because I just didn’t have enough pretend items to stock the bakery. This past winter, I finally took the plunge and with the help of my student teacher and a few volunteers, we set to work.

Salt Dough Bakery Foods:

We created salt dough pastries, breads and cookies. Originally, I tried colouring the dough by mixing variations of instant coffee, tea and cinnamon with the water added to the dough mixture. This created beautiful earthy coloured dough that we formed into the items shown below. They looked so amazing when we finished, but we were so disappointed when all of the dough dried much lighter and virtually looked the same. So in the end, each piece was carefully painted to look as authentic as possible and then little embellishments were added as needed such as sesame seeds to the bread sticks, icing to the hot cross buns, cinnamon dusting to the cinnamon rolls, and a bead to the imperial cookies. All of the items were given several coats of podge. For the most part, they turned out great (with the exception of how the podge yellowed on the imperial cookies). They are hard and sturdy, but would not with stand heavy duty play. When we set up the bakery and explained the centres to the students, we emphasized that unlike toys you buy in the store, these will break. Although the kids were certainly allowed to play with them, we also talked about how some of the items in the bakery would act more as display items that wouldn’t be handled quite as much. The students were really great about handling these carefully and they all survived the first year!

Salt Dough Recipe:

  • 2 cups of flour (plain)
  • 1 cup of salt
  • upto 1 cup of water

Create your items and then let air dry. We actually left ours over the weekend. Turn them over to dry the bottoms, once the tops has thoroughly dried. Paint and seal with Modge Podge or a similar product.

Cake PopsCake Pops:

The cake pops were a bit finicky and the sprinkles were not adhering well, so in the end, we told the kids they would be for display only. They were made with dowel and wood balls. We drilled a hole in the ball and then secured the dowel in the hole with glue. They were then spray painted and podged (the stripe was created with the narrowest painter’s tape). The sprinkles (tiny beads) were glued on and then podged over top.¬† They looked great, but any little bump and the sprinkles would fall off. There were so many things to do in the bakery, the kids really didn’t mind that these weren’t to be used. As a result, they held up really well and are ready for next year.

Classic Chocolate “Sponge” Cake:

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

The Classic Chocolate Cake was made using regular yellow sponges we bought at the dollar store. I took them home and spray painted them all brown. We then glued a layer of felt between the layers for icing and covered one end and the top with additional felt for the frosting on the outside. Small pieces of felt were cut out and glued on to embellish the cake and then fabric glue was used to add sprinkles.

Felt Cakes:

We also used felt to cover round cylinder shaped boxes (and one rectangular box) that I picked up from Dollarama. We simply covered the entire surface with white felt and then cut out various felt strips for decorating the cakes. In addition, we bought cheap little silk flowers from the craft area at the dollar store and added velcro to the bottoms. The velcro stuck beautifully to the felt, so that the kids could “dress” and “undress” the cake for any occasion. I also made two sizes so the cakes could be stacked for a wedding cake. I was lucky to find some old spools of felt ribbon I had bought for scrapbooking years ago, this also made beautiful decorations for the felt cakes.

Cookie Tin Cakes:

I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to incorporate as many hands-on bakery experiences as possible. Eventually my mind settled on magnetic cakes. I went to a local thrift store and picked up several round cookie tins of varying sizes for 50 cents each. I took them home and spray painted them and then using a brush added a few details that would be permanent decorations on the cake. From there, we just took some of the many flowers I had bought from the dollar store and added magnets to the bottoms. The kids loved the ease with which they could change a cake according to the orders made by customers at the bakery.

Play Dough Baking Station:

I wanted to extend the students’ bake shop experience beyond decorating to the actual prep work behind those beautifully finished cakes.¬† I had a parent volunteer make a batch of my favourite play dough (omitting any colour as I wanted it natural):

Mrs. Roy’s Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¬Ĺ cup salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food colouring (Kool Aid also works great for colouring)

Mix oil, water and food colouring in a pot. Add the dry ingredients. Stir. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. When the mixture is very thick and dough like, remove it from the pot and let it cool a bit. Transfer to an air tight plastic container and chill.

We then set up a table in the bakery where the bakers could knead, roll and cut the dough as they chose. I have cookie sheets, muffin tins, pie plates, pastry cutters and cookie cutters, so they had everything they needed to bake. In addition, I put out some small beads and dried beans that they were able use to decorate and/or add to their baking (eg. chocolate chips, raisins, etc)

Natural Coloured Play Dough

We set up a station in the bakery with natural coloured play dough. The kids used rolling pins, cookie cutters and small beads/beans to embellish their creations.

Donuts:

I found several good tutorials on how to make sock donuts. I followed the instructions for making the basic donut shape, but was having trouble collecting socks that were authentic donut colours, so I ended up covering most of the sock donuts with panty hose to create more of a natural donut look. We then added the felt icing and fabric paint sprinkles to some. The donuts turned out great an were very durable. I picked up all of the wicker baskets at a local thrift store for no more than a dollar each.

Our kindergarten bakery created hours of fun for the kids. In addition to all of the homemade items, I also have a set of wooden Doug and Melissa Cookies and a set of commercially made cupcakes, as well as a few other random pieces from classroom sets. Of course, we also had a till and a telephone for taking orders and a table set up if you wanted to stay for coffee and a “Sweat Treat”. This was lots of work to plan and create, but the hard work is now done and next year the set up with be easy. The students get so excited when there is a new play area created for them. I love to see them step into these roles and see their own creativity emerge.

I love kindergarten!!

 

 

Conversational Math with frogs

I want to thank Kelli Stewart for another great post. Being a kindergarten teacher, this one really strikes a chord with me. When parents ask me how best to prepare their kids for school my first answer is talk to them. Give your children plenty of time to play with real toys (not devices), use their imagination, explore and problem solve through everyday experiences and their own play. Take time to talk about their discoveries and the world around them. Don’t solve their problems for them. Let them figure out the challenges they face during play (eg Why won’t this tower stand-up?). Language skills are the foundation of learning and being comfortable with language concepts is the first step in developing literacy and numeracy skills. Finally, never speak “ill” of math. So many parents will say things like “I wasn’t good at math either. He/she is just like me.” Please don’t plant the seed of doubt or fear of math in your child before they ever start. Math is actually based on patterns and relationships between numbers. It is a system that really makes sense when you get it, but can feel like learning a foreign language when you don’t. Set your child up for success by speaking positively and making math a part of their world. Great work, Kelli!

 

What a fun and easy way to help your kid learn math? I suggest getting the help of a bucket full of leaping amphibians.

Emily's Favourite Math Teacher

Emily’s Favourite Math Teacher

Froghoppers from VikingToys is a fun game where you press the back of a frog to make it jump into a bucket. It is a lot of fun for the whole family for under ten bucks. I love it for that alone, but I have to say, that it has made teaching math words way more exciting!

Left Out of the Conversation

When my son was in preschool, we went to our first parent teacher interview. When we asked if there was anything we should be working on with him, she said that he could improve in his math skills. Aside from practicing counting, she said that one way we could help him advance was to be really mindful of using conversational math to describe the world around him.

“I’m sure you do this already‚Ķ You know, counting stairs, dividing objects¬†into equal groups, talking about adding or subtracting two more fruit¬†in your basket as you’re shopping, that sort of thing. Even playing dice games.” she said confidently. That was the moment I realized I do not describe my world in mathematical terms EVER. Nathan and I¬†would climb stairs to the beat of a song. We split things so they were fair. Fruit quantities¬†were described¬†more like this:¬†a¬†banana, a couple of bananas, a bunch of bananas. And could¬†we play a math game? Sorry, no dice.¬†To be honest, we¬†had more¬†Megatheriums¬†come up more in¬†conversation than Math.

With Emily, I knew I had to make a conscious effort from the beginning to talk math. Knowing myself, I knew that wasn’t going to happen naturally. That’s when the frogs came in.

Our favourite frog game

With the help of¬†dice (we steal the dice from another great math game: Double Shudder!), we roll a couple times to find out how many frogs to add to the¬†frog family (adding) and then roll again to see how many are leaving (subtracting). Smiles and subtraction seem to go hand in hand. As we¬†“Minus one, two three‚Ķ”, the frogs go flying! I’m not too worried about Emily actually learning her addition and subtraction, but it is¬†a great way to introduce the words “plus” and “minus” while having¬†some fun.

We even cut out lily pads and divide the frogs into equal groups. Emily is super social, so she is very content to put the frogs into groups (her ideal). The frogs are also great for counting, making patterns, sorting into colour groups, and are exceptionally good for launching across the living room!

Who would think that a frog would be such a good teacher?

Dramatic Play Center: Boston Pizza Restaurant

I am still working on a few items for the Boston Pizza Restaurant in my kindergarten classroom, but it is already up and running. I will add the extra items as I find and finish them. I really tried to make this fun and a great learning opportunity as well. Play is such an important part of learning and should never be considered meaningless or a waste of time. Here are just a few of the concepts I tried to incorporate to make the play area not only fun, but educational as well:

  • size comparison (small, medium and large ~ pizzas and drinks)
  • play money (opportunities to use play money for the exchange of goods and begin to learn the monetary value of the coins and bills as well as their names)
  • writing (orders can be taken or for those not yet ready, I created a “write and wipe” order sheet that is laminated)
  • reading (the signs in and around the restaurant as well as the menus)
  • math (number recognition, simple addition for those that pursue it, money concepts and even fractions)
  • how to set the table properly (use the placemats to properly set the table for customers)
  • learn about the different roles of the people who work in the restaurant (Chef, server, dish washer, host, etc)
  • fractions ~ we talked about how if one person likes a topping and the other doesn’t, you could order your pizza with a topping on only 1/2 of the pizza
  • manners and customer service
  • phone etiquette
  • taking turns (only 5 children allowed in the center at one time and deciding who will work in the restaurant and who the customers will be)
  • vocabulary development
  • the opportunities for learning really are endless and something that is so engaging also makes a great springboard for other learning activities in the classroom

*Be sure to click on the first image. It will take you to the enlarged slide show and reveal the captions.

Some of these concepts are definitely more applicable to a classroom or day care setting, but setting up a similar play area for your little ones can foster the same great learning opportunities at home. Let me know if this sparks some creative play ideas in your home, classroom or day care!

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