Developing Early Learning Skills in the Kitchen

Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies from Scratch with your Toddler

If you think back to your childhood, do you remember times when you helped bake delicious, sweet treats with a family member?  Did you experience a sense of joy and somehow feel magically connected to the art of mixing the ingredients, following the directions, and tasting the finished product?  For many, baking nostalgia serves as a positive and a joyful part of growing up.  And not only does baking with your child create wonderful bonding experiences, but it also acts as a simple way to teach important early developmental skills.

If you have little ones at home, a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe is all you need to spark some sunshine during a rainy day, or even liven up any evening on a weekend.  Here is a chocolate chip recipe that I use on a regular basis that has been a big hit for my family and friends for years to come. 

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375° F. Ask your child to help put ingredients on the kitchen counter.  (Teaches how to follow directions)

Step 2:  Have your child unwrap 2 sticks of butter and place in the bowl.  Parent will use mixer to make the butter creamy.  Then, prepare ingredients and have your child add ¾ cups of granulated sugar and ¾ cups of brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Then, take 2 eggs and ask your child how many eggs you have. Have them hold up how many fingers that is. Grab a second small bowl and have your child attempt to crack each egg or crack for them and have them place in the bowl.  (Teaches fine motor skills and spatial perception skills)

Step 3:  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. (Have your child put each scoop of dry mixture in a separate bowl.  Repeat how many cups or teaspoons of each are needed and have child hold up how many that would be.  After all dry ingredients are in the bowl, ask child to mix. Parent will then gradually mix rest of flour mixture (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) into the creamy mixture (butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs) until smooth. (Teaches math skills and hand/eye coordination)

Step 4:  Add 2 cups of chocolate chip morsels and then 1 cup of walnuts. (Ask child to count how many cups for chocolate chips and walnuts and ask to add each cup to bowl, then mix). (Teaches math skills and hand/eye coordination)

Step 5:  Drop a ball of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets. (Show child the amount of cookie dough needed to make a cookie, and then have child roll into a ball and place onto the baking sheet. Size of cookie will vary from 1 tablespoon to 1 ½ tablespoon depending on your preference) (Teaches math skills and hand/eye coordination)

Step 6:  Bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. After cooling, eat and enjoy! (Teaches coordination skills and spatial perceptional skills)

Overall, baking cookies is not only a great activity to share together, but as you can see, it also teaches many important early learning skills that are important such as: math skills (counting and measuring out ingredients), coordination skills (rolling balls of dough), visual perceptional skills and spatial perceptional skills (pouring ingredients, placing dough on baking sheet), patience (waiting for them to bake), and confidence (learning a new skill). 

Have fun and happy baking!