Sensory Play-Along Cookie Baking

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Fall, or Autumn as it is known here in England, is right around the corner. We have already started seeing the colours of the leaves turn, and anticipate great harvest in the coming months.

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A couple of weeks ago, while visiting my mother and sister nearby with my cousin visiting, we enjoyed an afternoon collecting the last of the summer blackberries. My sister made beautiful lemony blackberry jam that same afternoon and sent me home with some in a jar, and i knew there was a sweet treat on the horizon in store.
Today, we decided to step out of our current theme to work on an activity that Leo and i enjoy doing together, and hope that we can inspire others with our first idea and guidance post.

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Sensory Play Bake Along and recipe for Lemon & White Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches with Blackberry Jam filling

If like me, you have a tot who desires your attention and closeness unless he specifically chooses otherwise, you will know how tough it is to juggle a little task like baking that should bring you joy, but often gets a bit muddled with divided attention.
Admittedly with this mini project your attention is still divided, but the whole experience of baking is shared in a new way with a great level of involvement for your tot.
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Here, Squirrel is 18 months old.
This mini project is food safe providing you don’t mind a bit of sugar slipping in, though a little more observation is required if your little ‘taster’ treats cookie dough (with a little raw egg) less like playdough and more as we may naturally treat it- as scoffworthy!

Recipe
100g caster sugar
120g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g white chocolate chunks
Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
Delicious homemade blackberry jam made by your sister (or any jam you happen to have!)

Sensory Tools
Measuring cups
Plastic jugs
Whisk
Plastic bowl
2 teaspoons
Plastic paint palette
White paper

So where do we start?
Toddler in his highchair.
Ingredients, bowl and scales out.

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Give toddler a collection of non breakable ‘baking equipment’. A whisk, a wooden spoon, measuring cups, jugs, bowls, anything resembling what you may be using. Do a little demo of ‘baking’ with his tools then hand them over for some super pretend play.
Measure out your butter and sugar, and beat until mixed but not necessarily fluffy. Add your vanilla and egg, plus a shake of your flour to keep it from splitting and fold in thoroughly.
How is kiddo doing?
Put an inch of flour into a bowl if your dare and let him explore, pour and stir it with his tools.

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Gently fold in the rest of the flour and salt, adding the lemon zest and juice half way.
Add in the white chocolate chunks and stir until all thoroughly combined.
Gently retrieve the tools from your tot if he is finished playing with them.
Hand him the other half of the lemon. Observe the shape of the segments through middle of the fruit, invite him to smell it, run his fingers over it to feel the textures, squeeze it to release juices, lick it and roll it around his surface. A huge sensory experience in one fruit!

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Put the oven on to warm up at 160′ and cover your trays in greaseproof baking paper.
Roll your dough into small 1inchish disks and cover the cookie sheets allowing an inch or so room between each of them.
Save a small handful of dough for your tot. Invite him via demonstration to roll it, half it, pinch at its chunks of chocolate, roll it into sausages and squish it between his fingers. Offer a small amount of greaseproof paper and show him how to roll disks like you did and line them up on the paper, allowing more mimicking opportunities.

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Bake your cookies for 8-10 minutes or until risen just slightly and golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for 5-10 minutes.
If your tot gets restless in this time, i don’t blame him, he’s done well up there! The next stage can wait, go play!
Otherwise, you could try providing him with the eggbox, chocolate wrapper, butter wrapper and anything else that may have become vacant from use. All these different textures of packaging, sensations of residual ingredient under finger tips and smells provide great investigating experiences.

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Ready your cooled cookies by turning them over to expose their bellies. Using two teaspoons, scoop a small dollop of jam onto the bellies of several cookies, in your toddlers line of view. Show him specifically how you scoop the jam using the teaspoons.
Tip a few large dollops of jam into the middle of the paint palette. Show your tot how to scoop using his own teaspoons from his own jam in the paint palette, replacing each dollop into a dip. Hand them over and let him use these great tools, just like you, to transfer and sort the jam from the middle ourwards.

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Finish compiling your cookies by placing cookies roughly the same shape and size onto those with jammy bellies, and continue until finished.
Stack them up into a container, leaving a couple out for your tot.

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Clear away the jammy palette once he is finished and wrap up your project time together by laying out the paper, and halving the cookies. Show your tot how to stamp print using the cookies as if they were little potato stamps! Of course, they may get eaten eventually, but what a lovely crumby and sticky masterpiece!
This may buy you time to…
Have a jolly good and speedy tidy up, pop the kettle on and enjoy your cookies!

Enjoy your baking time with your little one! We would love to see photos of your finished cookies and of your little one enjoying baking with you!

This post is linked to Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1

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