Yum. Cookies. Now you can have your cookies and eat them, too because the sweet treats can teach your preschooler many new skills. Of course, you probably shouldn't let your little one eat as many cookies as he wants -- for the sake of education. He'll probably end up barfing or staying up way too late as he comes down from a sugar high. Plus, too many cookies on a regular basis can lead to tooth decay and poor health. Eat just one or two tasty cookies as an entertaining way to learn, but take the learning one step further and enjoy some activities that use the cookie theme without all the sugar. Or calories.
Making cookies is a pretty obvious cookie activity, but the benefits go far beyond eating the treats fresh out of the oven. Baking also teaches her early math skills, like counting. Your little baker can count as you crack open eggs into a bowl. So, if the recipe calls for three eggs, have your child count as you crack the eggs into the batter. Correlating number three with three eggs will help your child understand how numbers are part of every day life. Measuring ingredients, such as sugar, teaches your child how to make comparisons between measurements, such as a whole cup, compared to a half cup. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, your child will learn that a whole cup is more than a half cup. This is an essential early math skill that will make elementary math concepts, like geometry, easier to understand as she gets older. Hand over some of the power and let your preschooler scoop, count and pour in the cookie ingredients. She'll get some good counting and comparing practice, and she'll be so proud of herself when you tell her how yummy her cookies taste.
Create a few cookie-inspired crafts that are entertaining and will build your preschooler's fine motor skills. Draw several circles on a piece of white paper. Give your child crayons and encourage him to decorate the inside of the circles to resemble cookies. He might draw small red, yellow and blue dots to be sprinkles or brown dots to resemble chocolate chips. It'll inspire his creativity and give you some new baking ideas. Marshmallows and sprinkles anyone? Give your child circles cut from colored paper and let him decorate them with glitter, sequins and other art supplies. Hang the beautiful "cookies" in your kitchen. Have your little artist use clay to make cookies or gingerbread boys and girls. Use clay that hardens as it dries. Once the clay cookies or gingerbread boys and girls have hardened, let your kiddo decorate them by gluing googly eyes, sequins, buttons or beads onto the clay gingerbread boys.
Read a few cookie-themed stories to entertain your preschooler. Not only will she enjoy listening to books, but she'll be building her early literacy skills too. As you read, you'll expose her to new words and letter sounds that she'll unknowingly tuck away in her little brain. Crack open "Cookiebot!: A Harry and Horsie Adventure," by Katie Van Camp. It tells the unfortunate tale of two friends who build a robot to reach the cookie jar, but it goes rogue and wreaks havoc around the city, instead. Maybe these will deter your kiddo from trying to sneak cookies. "Mr. Cookie Baker," by Monica Wellington, is a fiction story that shows your child what goes into making a batch of cookies. The lively illustrations are a bonus, too.
Bake a batch of gingerbread boys and girls ahead of time. Put some frosting in a bowl and find a plastic spoon, as well. Gather some small candies and sprinkles, too. Before the activity, write several numbers, from one to 10, on slips of paper, fold them and place them in a bowl. Give your child a gingerbread boy or girl and ask him to spread frosting on it with the plastic spoon. To play the game, have your child draw a number out of the bowl and place the corresponding numbers of candies or sprinkles on his gingerbread cookie. For example, if draws a six, he would put on six pieces of candy or six sprinkles on his gingerbread cookie. He'll make some awesome treats at the same time he's practicing his counting skills. You might also play a matching game. Collect two each of several cookie cutter shapes, like two hearts or two pumpkins. They don't have to be the same size. Lay the cutters out and have your preschooler find the matches.