Celebrate birthdays through baking

Baking is an enjoyable hobby and is therapeutic.  Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our son turned four years old.  We were faced with how to make the day special for him without all his loved ones being with us to share the day in person.  I came up with a family birthday cake project.  Yes, it was messy and took a considerable amount of time with the kids.  We had a blast!  I let go of the mess, had fun, and recognized it would take more time making the cake together.  Many parents could be in the same boat, so I’m sharing my experience with you.

The following are important steps to take before you tell your child about the cake project.  Prep all ingredients and measure them out before children are involved.  Set the measured ingredients out in order by the bowl.  Spray the pan and pull out your mixer.  The more prepping you do, the better the experience is for your child. 

We started with everyone looking at the box.   The kids were able to make smart guesses about how to make a cake.  By the way, I have 3 kids under the age of 5 so the answers were quite funny.  The visuals (attached below for all to print and use) were by the ingredients.  While adding ingredients, we talked about how much, described the ingredient, and went in order by following the directions.  Lastly, the kids watched me pour the batter into the cake pan and we were off to washing dishes.

If you’re wondering how baking a cake connects with speech and language skills, let me share the following:  A birthday cake project can target, but is not limited to, the following language skills: new vocabulary, joint attention, target sounds, /wh/ questions, sequencing steps (1st, 2nd,…), basic concepts (on, in), agent + action (Mom stir) (Mom put), taking turns, direction following, and clear beginning and end. We can celebrate birthdays from home!  Please reach out to me or your treating therapist to get visuals or to ask questions about how to modify this activity to your child’s specific needs.  Happy baking!

– Natalie Wark
Speech/Language Pathologist