Bread making with young children in playgroup
by guest writer, Jen McCormack
Bread making seems to be one of the familiar and reliable activities you will find in Waldorf/Steiner kindergartens and playgroups. With rhythmic kneading of dough to a soothing melody sung by adults and children, this time is looked forward to and enjoyed by all.
I had second thoughts about including bread making time in my playgroup. First of all we were initially meeting in parks so baking was impossible. Secondly, once we did find a venue with a kitchen, there are many more people around now who have wheat or gluten intolerance. As for myself, I eat grain-free, and even though I and a few others in the group do not eat the bread I decided to include bread-making. Not to test our will-power, but to strengthen it! Like a lot of the activities we do with children, it is about the PROCESS. Everyone can participate and there are enough bread-eaters in the group to take care of the rolls that are left over.
Making bread from scratch helps children understand that food is not magic. It doesn’t just appear or grow in the shops. There are not many items around now where children are able to see or participate in the full manufacturing process. We buy our bread in bags, drink our milk from cartons, slice our cheese from yellow plastic-wrapped blocks. Bread comes in an expected shape, size and colour. Children, being creatures of habit, may become suspicious when their food looks different to their expectations … unless they are often offered a wide variety of foods or have participated in the process of making it.
Having children help you make basic food items from scratch will not only increase their interest in eating it, but also help them to gain some great skills in the kitchen and be on the way to learning some healthy habits surrounding food. I’ll never forget watching Jamie Oliver’s demonstration of how commercial chicken nuggets were made. Ironically though, even though the children he was doing this exercise with were fully grossed out – they still chose to eat the commercial nuggets because they had no connection to food as a source of nourishment.
Bread making with young children is just one way to help them connect to the earth, the seasons of the year, and begin to understand the whole-food concept but it is a lovely start.
Thank you, Jen. Inspiring!
If you would like to make bread with your children, then please have a look at this video I made a few years ago. There’s a fabulous song I wrote to sing when making bread with children too.
Bread is a lovely thing to eat
Bread is our little (Wednesday) treat
Pat the dough, roll the dough, shake the flour fine
Shape it, then bake it. It’s almost oven time.
And for the perfect bread dough recipe every time, click here.