With the school holidays coming up, here are some baking ideas to keep children busy
Most children love to get involved in the kitchen. With a few adjustments, you can make it easy and fun for them. Some children will be able to bake completely independently, while others may need more support. Remember: don’t leave a child unsupervised to work with sharp utensils, hot ovens or boiling water.
Table and counter surfaces:
Some children are able to use a regular table or counter to mix, pour, roll, cut etc, while others might use their wheelchair or standing frame lap-tray. Some need to stand while others can sit on a chair if they tire. Your child may find it easier to work on a tray with handles and a raised edge to stop things from rolling off or to make it easier to grasp and move. Keep surfaces and floor areas clean and free of clutter so that children don’t slip, trip and fall.
Modifications to baking utensils
Some children are able to hold baking utensils and accessories; others might need a little support. Specially modified utensils can help make children with mobility impairments independent. You can make adaptations to other baking equipment such as cookie cutters, mixing bowls, sieves and measuring cups. Here are some ideas for helpful accessories:
- Larger utensils, such as spoons with bigger circumferences, or special grips if grasping is difficult or fine motor activities are challenging. Bendable or weighted utensils can be useful. A heaver weight may assist in stability and may provide proprioceptive feedback where needed.
- For children with a minimal range of hand motion, bent or bendable utensils make it easier for them to use without making a mess. Some of these devices come already bent, while other will bend as needed when you use them. Wrapping a utensil handle in cylindrical foam makes the handle larger, which may help a child grip it better and give them more stability. You can modify a spoon by using tape and securing a piece of Velcro or elastic to assist with lifting or scooping.
- Using a rubber mat may stop things from slipping, while a mat with a suction may prevent bowls from tipping. You can make your own non-slip accessories by using Velcro strips, pads or coins which you can stick to the table and bowl or other surface that you need to remain stable.
Easy Star Biscuits
- 50g butter, softened
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g icing sugar
- 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Sugar sprinkles/silver balls, to decorate
- Place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg yolk, then stir in the plain flour and cinnamon and mix to a soft dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to ½cm thickness. Use a small star cookie cutter to stamp out about 30 stars, re-rolling the dough as necessary.
- Place the stars on two large greased baking sheets and use a wooden skewer to make a hole in each cookie. Bake for 8-10 mins until pale golden. Leave on the baking sheets for 2-3 mins then transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
- To decorate the stars, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a smooth icing. Spread or pipe the icing over the cold cookies and top with sugar sprinkles. Leave until set.
Dr Emma McKinney is a “children with disabilities” specialist, a post doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University and owns a company called Disability Included. email: firstname.lastname@example.org