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Holiday Memories Start in the Kitchen

Make special memories with your children by baking in the kitchen this holiday.

Nashville, Ark. – If you are looking for a new holiday tradition to start with your children, consider baking up a batch of cookies or breads. Such memories can last a lifetime and it is fun both for the adult and the child. Plus, your child will be learning new life skills.

Children are natural kitchen helpers. They like to share simple tasks such as shopping for food, picking what foods to prepare, stirring mixes, cutting out cookies, even simple chopping. They love helping you prepare and serve food to the family.

Baking Christmas cookies for Santa is a perfect way to introduce your child to the kitchen. Baking cookies gives the child a chance to measure, count, and see food change. That’s early math and science learning. Cooking together also builds language and reading skills. You can read the labels on the ingredients and read the recipe together.

Small muscle skills are being developed too, when your child uses his or her hands to mix, measure, cut-out or decorate the cookies. Even cleaning up provides an opportunity to teach. Cleanup teaches responsibility. It is part of many creative, messy things we do.

Kitchen Safety

When baking in the kitchen with children there are some safety rules you will want to follow. They include:

  • Fasten child’s hair back if it is long. This goes for your hair too.
  • Wear clean clothes with short sleeves. Wear an apron. It makes children feel “super” special. Consider making or wearing matching aprons.
  • Wash your hands properly and keep kitchen surfaces as clean as possible.
  • Resist nibbling cookie dough or cake batter. Raw eggs carry the bacteria salmonella. Save your tasting until the recipe is complete.
  • Stay away from hot surfaces and utensils and sharp objects. As the parent, oversee removing pans from the oven. Older children can be taught how to use an oven mitt to remove hot pans from the oven.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as they happen.

Tasks for Children

Children can and will want to do a lot when baking together. Some of the tasks they can perform easily include:

  • Stirring items together. Shaking sprinkles on the finished cookies. Cutting out the cookies with a cookie cutter.
  • Spreading the icing on the cookies once they have cooled. Mixing ingredients together. Kneading the cookie dough. Rolling the cookie dough out before cutting.

Have Patience!

As a parent, be aware that cooking together may require a little more patience. Your child will make a mess. It’s okay! Young children do not have the same muscle coordination and skills that you do. Sometimes even adults make a mess when cooking.

Allow plenty of time to bake together. A recipe that takes 20 minutes to prepare, will probably take twice as long when you are preparing it with a child. Also be prepared for the child to lose interest. They may not complete each step but will probably do some of each step as you go along. It’s worth letting your child help. Kitchen time is learning time that you share together.

When you finish, sit down, and share a cookie and a glass of milk. Reflect on the day’s activity. Who knew learning could be so much fun!

For more information on nutrition, meal preparation, or cooking with children, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. Have fun baking and building memories together with your child this holiday season!

Recipe of the Week

Here is a basic sugar cookie recipe to get you started baking with your children. Children will have lots of fun cutting out and decorating the cookies!

Sugar Cookies and Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable shortening (may use shortening sticks)
  • 1 egg                                                      
  • ½ tsp. soda                                                                       
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar                                                 
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  1. Cream together the sugar and shortening.
  2. Add egg and mix well.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and add to mixture.
  4. Finally, add vanilla and mix well.
  5. Roll out cookie dough and cut with a cookie cutter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.


  • 1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted

  • ¼ lb. (1/2 c.) soft butter

  • 1/8 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 3 to 4 tbsp. milk

    Food coloring, optional

  1. Cream 1/3 of sugar with butter and salt in large bowl.
  2. Blend extract, 2 tablespoons milk, and remaining sugar into mixture.
  3. Gradually stir remaining milk into frosting until desired spreading consistency is reached.
  4. Add food coloring, if desired.
  5. Complete with candy sprinkles or colored sugar.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.