Author: Melissa Droegemueller

Baking with Kids to Shape Their Future

Baking with Kids to Shape Their Future

Fall has arrived, and I am on the hunt for indoor activities to do with my children! Since Thanksgiving is the week, I thought it would be the perfect time to reach out to Cynthia of Mom’s Bread Bites to get her thoughts on the benefits of baking with kids. Grab some ingredients, and bake a loaf of bread together this week!

Why Bread?

The act of how to make your own bread has been a basic life skill for almost a long as we humans have been around.  It’s easy and more convenient to pick up a couple super big, chewy loaves at the store than to measure ingredients, mix them together, let it rise, shape it, then bake and cool it down.  Sounds more like an exercise regime, doesn’t it? Reading into the history of bread, YES, it used to be very labor intensive!

Yet more people are becoming aware of ingredients and for choosing to make what they can from scratch at home.  Even if allergies and diet aren’t high on your priority list, the benefits of bread making are so much more than just knowing what’s inside of your food. It can, in essence, help to build character and improve mental health.

Bread baking can be incorporated into busy lifestyles if you truly want to make the time. And starting children off young is half the effort. We all want our children to be their best, so invest in them.

Be sure to check out Cynthia’s Bread Making Bootcamp posts!

Baking with Kids | kids in the kitchen, indoor family activities, making bread with children, learning activities, Thanksgiving cooking

Your children can start helping in the kitchen as young as two years old and contribute until they are baking all on their own. Making bread is an inexpensive way to get them started contributing.  Much like chores and routines, the actual act of making bread gives your child a sense of value and a role to play in your family. When everybody has a job to do, including dumping and mixing, there is a certain peace in the home.  The kneading and shaping bread is very hands on. You can get elaborate if you like, but the goal is to share an enjoyable activity together while creating something.

Baking has also been proven to be therapeutic is using various ways of therapy!

It’s a Creative Outlet

There are many people who have children with special needs and it is harder for them to learn basic life skills be they social or otherwise. There is an art and level of creativity that can be used when learning how to make bread because there’s a lot that goes into simply feeling what it is in the dough and tweaking based on what it needs. Yeast bread is a living thing and needs care and attention.

Baking for Neighbors

I love baking for my neighbors, who almost never refuse one of my test recipes.  As an extrovert, it gives me a reason to knock on their door and bring along my littles so they can meet us. I have yet to have anyone refuse, and often they follow up later in the week with “that bread was GONE the same day!”

I believe that bread making can serve an important and vital role in our communities, be it an outlet for a child having “Big Feelings” and no words yet, or a local bakery offering an apprenticeship to at-risk youth. Children matter, no matter how small. Or big. Their future is based on their todays, so we cannot remind them enough that they are important and have value to the family and their community. We all want to belong and be loved.

I recently read a story about a downtown LA bakery that offered job opportunities to former gang members. Unfortunately, it was burned down in the 90s. The idea resonated with me about offering opportunities to people who need them, especially our kids.

People often need chances to prove and reprove that they are.  While I certainly don’t assume anyone’s child will become related to a gang or have less than desirable friendships, the benefits are clear. It’s very much a “teach a man how to fish” kind of thing. As our children grow, they gain more experience, and we offer more responsibility, more freedom, and more individuality.  Right in their home.


Baking with Kids | kids in the kitchen, indoor family activities, making bread with children, learning activities, Thanksgiving cookingMom’s Bread Bites

Cynthia is a self-taught bread baker and homeschooling mom of three. She began making bread as a way to cope with a tragic loss and it helped her to fight depression and work through grief in a healthy way. Now, she teaches moms how to use breadmaking to create lasting memories with their children.

You can visit Cynthia’s website, Mom’s Bread Bites, or follow her on Facebook!

13 Best Learning Toys For Kids: Indoor Version

13 Best Learning Toys For Kids: Indoor Version

We began our minimalism journey when our oldest child was three years old. As first-time parents, we had bought into the myth that our baby needed ALL the things from the infant aisles at Target. When we moved from a three-bedroom house (with a basement!) to a two-bedroom apartment, we realized things had to change. Over the last six years, we have focused on finding and keeping only the BEST learning toys for our two girls.

The key is finding learning toys that will grow with our kids though several ages and stages. Now that our girls are 6 and 9, our toy collection is pretty much complete!

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

Learning toys for babies:

  • Bristle Blocks

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations
We got this set of bristle blocks for our younger daughter’s first birthday! Little ones love to grab the blocks, the bristles are great for teething, and they are a fantastic quiet toy for read alouds when kiddos get older.


Learning toys for toddlers:

  • Mental Blox

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Mental Blox are one of our favorite building materials. The blocks are made of a light plastic, small enough for older babies and young toddlers to play with. Preschoolers can sort the blocks by shape and color, or use the enclosed picture cards to recreate structures. Older children can use the blocks for geometry lessons, to discover the differences between circles and spheres, squares and cubes.

  • Kitchen + play food

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

We bought this kitchen on clearance at Cracker Barrel (similar) the year our younger daughter turned 2. Four years later, it’s still a toy that gets played with whenever we have friends over. Our girls love to play restaurant and hotel, and having a kitchen gives them some fun opportunities for imaginative play.

  • Melissa & Doug cutting set

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Our cutting fruit is a toy that has been well-loved for years. We have a cheaper, plastic version, and I wish we would have invested in a wooden set from the beginning. Toddlers love the Velcro sound when the pieces are separated, plus they are great for learning vocabulary, practicing matching, and having fun making silly combinations.

  • Wooden Blocks/Jenga

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations
Our girls have a set of wooden blocks (similar to these), but they have more fun with our Jenga set that we bought at a thrift store. Last spring, I painted them in gradient patterns for an extra layer of learning.


Learning toys for preschoolers:

  • Dress-up clothes

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Starting a dress-up box for your kiddos will provide hours of fun! We like to buy individual pieces that can be mixed and matched to create new scenarios: masks, hats, vests, and scarves that can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Train set

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

I never expected my kids to enjoy having a train set, but we slowly added pieces over the years and it is now one of our favorite winter toys. The girls have gone from watching us build a configuration to creating their own.

  • Trampoline

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we used to live in a two-bedroom apartment. Having an indoor trampoline has been a lifesaver on days when it is too hot or too cold to play outside. Our version (similar) has a handlebar that is easy to remove, making it fit perfectly under a twin-size bed for easy storage. (It also makes a great addition to our reading nook.)

  • Busy Farm

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Any type of animal counters will serve your children well. From counting, to sorting by color, to using for imaginative play, we have loved our little animals.

Easel

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

We bought our easel from IKEA, and it has provided hours of fun. From drawing to writing messages to each other, it’s the perfect size for toddlers and preschoolers to discover their inner artist.

  • Playdough + cookie cutters

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Making homemade playdough is one of our favorite activities! We have had this set of cookie cutters for years; it includes letters, numbers, seasonal items, and a variety of shapes. I love that our girls can use them for painting and tracing as well.

  • UNO Cards

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

There are so many fun educational games for families to play, but I picked UNO specifically because of its versatility. I wrote more about the ways we like to play with the cards in this post: 7 Must-Have Math Toys for Every Family


Learning toys for kids:

  • Marbleworks

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

There are a number of marble runs available these days, but we are partial to the Discovery Toys version. The quality, durability, and guarantee are SO worth it! We have gotten more than our money’s worth over the past five years or so.

As we enter the holiday shopping season, I would love to hear YOUR family’s favorite learning toys!

Come join the discussion in our private Facebook group, Adventures in Learning at Home:

Come join the discussion in our private Facebook group, Adventures in Learning at Home!

Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Growing up in Texas, cooler weather and changing leaves usually arrived at the same time as Christmas. Now that we have moved to the Midwest, our girls get to experience a TRUE fall: harvest, apple-picking, pumpkin patches, and jumping in HUGE piles of leaves in the yard. We also have been able to start new fall family traditions! 

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Fall Family Traditions:

  • Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.
  • Rake up leaves from the yard and jump in them. (Bonus points for raking a neighbor’s yard, too!)
  • Go on a nature hike and gather items for a homemade wreath craft.
  • Complete a family puzzle or LEGO set over a few weeks’ time.
  • Listen to an audiobook on the couch while doing a project.
  • Participate in our fall reading challenge.
  • Invite a family over for a meal.
    This can be for Thanksgiving (think of someone who doesn’t have extended family nearby) or another meal during the month of November. Have your children help plan the menu, go shopping, set the table, and prepare the meal together. Teach your children about serving others and being hospitable.
  • Do a family service project.
    Gather items for the local food pantry or women’s shelter. Snuggle dogs or cats at the animal shelter. Write letters for veterans. Create small care packages for the homeless (warm socks, toiletry items, snacks). Participate in Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree.   
  • Bake (or buy) cookies and talk about what each family member is grateful for. You can make a gratitude jar, banner, or start a gratitude journal to add to each year.

Fall Family Traditions | family activity ideas, teaching kids to be grateful, helping others, gratitude journal for families, making a difference


Make a Gratitude Journal:

When your children are old enough to understand what “thankful” means, go out and buy a family journal. I would recommend one with unlined pages and a spiral binding.

Decorate the cover together with fabric or scrapbook paper. Trace each child’s hand on a page in the journal and allow them to fill it in with markers, stickers, colored paper, magazine scraps, etc. Write down what they are thankful for (or let them write in the journal) and date the entries. Each year, bring the journal out and reminisce about previous years.


Join our Fall Reading Challenge:

Reading aloud with your children for 15 minutes a day can have significant impact on your:

  • family bond
  • child’s love for learning
  • child’s emotional and academic success
  • and MORE!

You can grab our FREE printable reading log and get details about our November book giveaway below.

Grab our free printable reading log at rollingprairiereaders.com!