Kitchen chemistry might fascinate little bakers who want to learn to bake bread.

How to Explain to Children How Yeast Works in Baking

by Kathryn Hatter

Cooking and baking in the kitchen can be a science lesson in the making. Most kids love bread, so why not get them busy baking bread and make the experience educational at the same time? With a simple explanation about how yeast works in the baking process, your little ones can learn while they mix it up in the kitchen. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire the next great culinary master!

List aloud to your children some of the yummy foods that contain yeast, such as pizza, bread, French bread, soft pretzels, croutons, stuffing, cinnamon rolls, hamburger buns and focaccia. Make sure kids know that all these treats have flour and yeast to make them delicious.

Explain to kids that yeast is alive and active after you add special ingredients to wake it up. Tell kids that it’s important to add perfectly warm water to yeast -- not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast and not too cold or it won’t wake up the yeast. The water should be about the same temperature as a healthy person -- 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The other special ingredient that yeast needs is sugar or honey to feed the yeast and give it important energy.

Talk about the other ingredients that you might mix with yeast, water and sugar to make dough, such as oil, eggs, salt and flour. Briefly mention the process of mixing everything up in a bowl, stirring and then kneading the ingredients with your hands. Explain that kneading is important because this helps mix all the tiny pieces of yeast evenly throughout the dough.

Remind little ones how they feel tired sometimes and need to rest. Tell kids that dough needs to gets Zs too in order to grow -- just like kids! A baker will put bread dough in a warm spot to let it rest. While dough is resting, yeast is busy gobbling up all the simple sugars in the dough and turning them into great big air bubbles. When you see bread dough rising and getting bigger, you know that the yeast is busy making air bubbles inside the dough.

Mention that yeast makes bread light and moist, it gives bread a yummy flavor and it helps hold the ingredients together to make strong dough.


  • Invite your tots to help you make bread and put the yeast lesson into practice. Mix the yeast with warm water and sugar to start and move through the entire process of adding ingredients, mixing, kneading, resting and baking. Your kids will never forget how yeast works because you taught them in hands-on fashion.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

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