We’ve partnered with our creative and inspirational friend, children’s interior designer & event stylist, Jannicke Ramsø from Tiny Little Pads, to dream up this holiday activity that combines two of our favorite things—cookies and pretend play. Inspired by a magical play space that Jannicke created for her two girls, Nahla and Miliah, in her Las Vegas home, the following cookie recipes and play tips help you and kiddo bake up some fun together. Be sure to check out Jannicke’s blog for more play space inspiration that honors the developmental and creative needs of children.
For young children, the reality they know inspires their imaginary play and, in turn, playing helps them better understand their reality. Think about the times you’ve seen little kids play “house” or “school.” When they enter pretend worlds, it’s their way of making cognitive and emotional sense of the world in which they actually live. One of their most popular pretend worlds to play is “kitchen.” At home, the kitchen is an exciting place! Think about all the shapes, sounds, colors, and activities happening there.Because kids often observe their family cook and eat, they’re naturally drawn to playing out what they’ve seen by pretend-cooking with food props. When they do, it’s an opportunity to use one of our go-to play tips: take note of the narratives children engage in and enhance their imaginative world with extension activities. This will help enrich their development and nurture their curiosity.
Jannicke did just that when she saw her daughter, Nahla, playing pastry chef with our Tanabata Star Cookies and Cardboard Kitchen. As Nahla created pretend recipes, rolled out pretend dough, and acted out baking cookies, Jannicke seized the opportunity to nurture her daughter’s interest by bringing her into the kitchen for some real holiday baking fun. Cooking with your children is a terrific way to extend dramatic play and promote communication, literacy, and math skills.
From measuring to mixing, stirring to tasting, an hour in the kitchen helps kids practice cognitive and physical fundamentals that last a lifetime.
Inspired by Jannicke’s stunning images, we collected three of our favorite cookie recipes to help you and kiddo cook together this holiday season. Want to encourage kitchen play but don’t feel like turning on the oven? Use recipe names to get started, but make the cookies with open-ended materials (fabric or paper scraps, eco dough, pom-poms, cut-up pipe cleaners for sprinkles…you get the idea).
Whether real or imaginary, nothing captures the holidays like cookies and a little magic.
Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, and Egg-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!
Recipe from: Milk Free Mom
A classroom standby, this recipe works for children with or without food allergies and sensitivities. Plus, the mashed bananas and applesauce create the perfect sweetness and texture!
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 banana, mashed
- ½ unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup raisins
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl with a fork.
- In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (except for the raisins).
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing well (add more apple juice if the mixture looks too dry).
- Fold the raisins into the mix.
- Drop small spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and pat with a spoon to form the cookies into circles.
- Bake for approx. 13 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.
- Let them cool on the sheet for 10 minutes.
Funfetti Sugar Cookies:
Recipe from: Chez CateyLou
Anything resembling confetti has our affection, so this classic Funfetti cookie was an instant “yes!!” for getting in the holiday spirit.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sprinkles, plus more for sprinkling on top before baking
- Using a hand-held mixer on medium speed, mix the butter until it is smooth (approx. 1 minute). Add cream and sugar into the butter until they mix and become fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla into the bowl and mix until they are combined thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tarter.
- Slowly mix the bowl of dry ingredients into the wet ingredients mixing on low speed. As you mix, add in ½ - 1 cup of sprinkles.
- Roll the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each. Shape the dough balls a bit taller than they are wide. Place them on a plate lined with parchment paper, and press some extra sprinkles on top of each dough ball. Place the plate of dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight (make sure to cover them if you are leaving them in overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or use a nonstick baking sheet.
- Place the chilled balls of dough on the prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake the cold dough for 8 minutes. The cookies will look under-baked - that is what keeps them soft. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer them to a wire sheet or plate.
Three-Ingredient Graham Cracker Cookies
Recipe from: Jam Hands
With just three ingredients, this kid-friendly recipe makes for easy-peezy and delicious fun.
- 16 whole graham crackers
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs. (Tip: To get your kiddos involved and promote motor development, have your children use their hands to crush up the graham crackers).
- Put the crushed pieces into a food processor to ensure that they are blended into fine crumbs.
- Mix all three ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine.
- Drop circles of the mix (about a teaspoon size) on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes.