When December 1 rolls around and kids everywhere take out their My Kindness Advent Calendars, one Act of Kindness is shared on social more than all the others: “Make Cookies for Neighbours!” It makes sense, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t love to make (and eat) cookies and share some special treats? Baking has always been one of my favourite things to do with the kids - there’s something so special about connecting in the kitchen, getting a little messy and a lot creative. And there’s something special about treats made straight from the heart - the time and energy it takes to make something from scratch really shows effort and care. Which makes cookies a perfect thing to share. Not only does “Making Cookies for Neighbours” get a great reaction from neighbours and foster some community spirit, but the act of baking has so many other benefits from a social-emotional learning and growth mindset perspective too!
Baking and Cooking together can be a wonderful connection tool and chance to practice life skills
It is not always easy to find time for baking, let alone with your kids, but it can be extremely rewarding and helpful with hard and soft skills when you do! Baking helps develop kids’ fine motor skills as well as their ability to read recipes and practice math (measuring ingredients is a great lesson in fractions, for example). Baking also teaches them about patience, organization, planning, teamwork and problem solving which are all essential life skills.
But perhaps best of all is the opportunity to connect in the kitchen. This can be a great way to bond with your kids and create memories together over food. You can use your time baking together as an opportunity to ask questions about your child's day or engage in conversation, when they might be more likely to engage since you’re already doing a fun, co-operative activity together.
Finally, cooking and baking together can be an excellent way to teach kids healthy eating habits and the nutritional value of different ingredients. You can talk about the process of cooking and why certain things work better than others, or why certain ingredients taste better than others. You can also discuss the science behind cooking and nutrition or even the basic chemistry of food like which foods are rich in fats, proteins or carbohydrates.
Baking and Cooking can be a Creative Outlet and Therapeutic
Baking can also be a great way to explore your child's creative side. The more colours and sprinkles the better! And it can also be calming if they are anxious or upset. Baking can be a great therapeutic and mindful outlet for children who are learning to work through their emotions. From the tactile experience of kneeding dough or the physical experience of mixing and stirring, the rhythms and routine of baking can be regulating! Some research has even suggested that baking may lead to improvements in positive influences in socialization, self-esteem and quality of life. Baking can be a physical and mental activity requiring focus, and can help to reduce anxiety.
Baking and Cooking Can Help Foster a Growth Mindset
Trying new recipes, experimenting with new ingredients, and working on improving the consistency and quality of your baking is exactly what a growth mindset is all about. Every time you make something, you and your child might learn something new. Experimenting, trying new things, and working through mistakes is the name of the game in the kitchen, which can be a safe and special place to practice failing forward and learning through our mistakes. Whether it’s a sinking souffle or a burnt batch of cookies, moving through and trying again is key to kids’ growth, and with baking, the motivation to try again (ie make something delicious) is a powerful one!
Another way to encourage taking risks and trying new things is by breaking down the larger steps with cooking into smaller components that are more kid-friendly., like:
- Learn cooking techniques: eg: baking, measuring, kneading, dough making
- Memorize a few favorite recipes: gain confidence in a few staples
- Learn flavors: learn how individual ingredients taste, and what they are like when you combine them
- Learn to use kitchen appliances and utensils: learn how to use the mixer, spatulas, lifters, wax paper and baking sheets
- Mise en place: learn about preparation and how to avoid making mistakes by planning ahead
- Learning to do research: Read cookbooks and magazines or search on Google and Youtube if you are wondering about certain steps or how to improve your recipes
- Google/YouTube it (research it): Pretty much any cooking technique, dish, or recipe has a video or blog post teaching you how to make it.
Now the Act of Kindness part - Delivering Cookies to your Neighbours
And now to bring it back to the OG Act of Kindness - “Make Cookies for Neighbours!” Your neighbours will be delighted that your child has baked something for them and are thinking of them. Here are a few tips about delivering your little treat!
When you deliver cookies to your neighbours, try to bring a note along with your cookies, telling someone why they’re special to you! Something as simple as “Thanks for being a great neighbour” is sure to brighten someone’s day! The note should also explain why you baked the cookies, what kind of cookies they were, and the ingredients, in case anyone has allergies.
For some ready-to-go gift tags made especially for your neighbours AND a top-notch recipe, download our free printable to help plan your deliveries!