Or is it kitchen chemistry? I did baking at school as a teacher – it’s a common learning tool, process cooking is the lingo at playcentre. All that measuring, lots of language, kids like it, and that following of the instructions thing, with all those steps and the essential instructional language. Well Helena can follow instructions (she did all the reading), steps, work out where to look for the ingredients and how to find out the time and temperature (we even had to convert from Farenheit) to cook the biscuits. We did weighing (soo much butter) some predicting and we even had to do some addition when weighing the flour (with 3 digit numbers) all great stuff and all stuff I’d have emphasised at school too. It’s a game – how to get kids to do stuff without ending up just getting on and doing it, somehow making them work and thinking it’s worthwhile doing.
And then there is all the fine motor skills, lots of things to learn here. Even the simple act of rolling out cookie dough, stickyness, even depth, keeping it on the board, not pushing too hard, how deep is 6mm? it’s a challenge. Maximising the layout of cookie cutters – Helena is well versed in my panicked don’t cut from the middle screech as she occasionally gets near my fabric.
Here are the products, kiwi, babies, Mama, Papa and the dineys (you do need to know this – it’s short for dinosaurs).
So here’s the bit that wouldn’t happen at school, maybe other kids don’t do this either but this is what she likes… Lots of this is said in a consoling baby kind of voice, with affection and perhaps should be peppered with “darlings”. The words in italics are what she told me hours later when we were listening to the recording.
H: “de de de for dineys, out you go, kiwi first, jiggle jiggle” (she is jiggling the cookie cutters on the dough to cut and release them- as taught) “dineys jiggle jiggly jiggly jiggle out.. baby first. I’ll take him over. Where’s the tray?” (Shouting) “Mum where’s the tray?”
New tray gets found
H: “We’ll have to wait a little bit….. You don’t have to wait any more (mumble) you at this corner. There’s Muma and Papa both…. Muma, Papa I’m a halloweeno ghoul.. there’s still room for me I yell… hooray. Then I (mumbles)… my two friends, I put myself in. Now I’m going to get (mumbling)… someone (mumble)… here come a diney, twins. The diney twins you can come both of you together because I have got two hands you know, oh careful. Yeah, you’ll be real tasty. It’s fun making bickies for you. What?… Empty, you empty this… so you left a bit behind.” (Starts whispering so you can only hear a few words) “… bye……….. push…… leap…. she’s peeping…. I can’t…. perhaps they have a place. Na, that diney doesn’t, what about you I call out, the other diney appears, does he fit. Well it’s worth giving him a go” (in a funny accent). “It’s just one tiny little damage on his tail and we don’t mind about that… now… all of us, down calls Daddy,” (it means I have to push them down) “then wiggle begins.. the diney, the diney starts to wiggle first but his came off, his head came off. A person says I’ll fix that when we get there”
When I said “there’s still space for me” I meant finding space on the dough to put the cookie cutter in. In the game I was pretending to model them and take pictures.
Helena laughing her head off when she heard the story playing back (she didn’t know I was recording). Then she filled me in on the details as to what was happening in the story she was playing out with the biscuits. At first when she was helping me decipher what she was saying she thought it was her as a baby. I guess the game had finished and was gone from her immediacy.
We still have dough in the fridge and the freezer and Helena mostly does biscuits so she can decorate them. She did the dishes and tidied up so it’s OK for phase two…