I’ve always loved cooking with my girls. It’s a great way to bond, but also a great way for them to learn and develop skills. Here’s how I applied First 5 California’s Talk. Read. Sing.® program while making these fun Acorn Marshmallows with them!
My girls and I have been cooking together for a long time. We have made all kinds of things together, including main dishes and desserts.
Heart Shaped Fried Wontons (age 6)
Baked Cinnamon Raisin Apples (Age 5)
Broccoli and Ham Quiche (Age 4)
(Please excuse my sobs…oh those little baby faces!)
Today, I still use cooking as a tool for learning. Even at the ripe old age of eight, they can still Talk.Read.Sing®. This past week, we were walking outside and we love to pick up sticks, leaves, and acorns that have dropped onto the floor. We talked about the different types of oak trees and how their leaves and acorns look different. Then when they started balancing acorn caps on their sticks, we came up with the idea of Acorn Marshmallows (they started “roasting” them with a pretend fire). After we came up with the recipe, we talked about what ingredients we wanted to include in our Acorn Marshmallows, using s’mores as our inspiration.
Recipes are a great way to learn about counting, measuring and following directions in the proper order. Older kids can read the recipe themselves, and you can read the recipe to littler kids. For this recipe, they can measure out chocolate chips, count out graham crackers, and learn the concept of “half” a marshmallow.
Look up songs online to find song related to your recipe. I remember the song “I’m a Little Acorn Nut” from my childhood, or you can adapt the song “Five Little Pumpkins” to Acorns. During our walk, we also sang nostalgically, “All the Leaves are Falling Down” which was their favorite song from preschool. It was particularly bittersweet moment for me, as they had a horrible time adjusting to preschool, and songs such as that one helped them feel more at ease away from home.
I’m in no way a parenting expert, but I love bonding with my girls while watching them grow, even just a little bit, each time I cook with them. They now have their own kid-safe knife, and they are starting to know their way around the kitchen to grab whatever they need. It has been great to see their brains working when they only have a 1-cup measuring cup but they only need 1/2 a cup, and remembering that a Tablespoon is smaller than a teaspoon. And even more importantly, I’ve watched their confidence and independence grow in the kitchen as well, which they need to learn even more, in school and in life!
The First 5 California Activity Center is an excellent resource to learn about Talk.Read.Sing® for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. You’ll learn lots of different ways that work for you and your child to stimulate their minds. Use things that you already have at home, such as toys, household items, and art supplies to teach them new concepts, develop motor skills, strengthen memory and communication skills, and more! There’s even a special Pandora station so you and your child can dance and sing along. The page is divided up by age so it’s easy to find what you need for your kiddo.
What you do now for your little ones can have a huge impact on them in the future! Read more at the First 5 California website and start talking, reading, and singing!
Makes two dozen acorn marshmallows
Note: Please supervise your children as you cook with them, keeping in mind their age and skill set. You may need to do some steps yourself (i.e. melting the chocolate).
- 10 Large marshmallows
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips and 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 2 regular graham crackers and 2 chocolate graham crackers
- Pretzel sticks or twists
Using kitchen shears, cut the marshmallows in half. The action of cutting the marshmallows with shears will squish each half a little bit, and a point will result in one end to form the acorn shape. Set aside.
Place plain graham crackers into a zip-top bag and crush with hands or rolling pin. Repeat with chocolate graham crackers. Pour crumbs for each flavor into a separate dish. Set aside.
Place milk chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and place over a pot with 1 inch of simmering hot water in it. Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly, until just a few large pieces remain. Remove from heat and continue stirring, allowing the residual heat to melt the remaining chocolate.
Cover a tray with parchment paper. Taking the pointy end of your marshmallow half in your fingers, dip the other end into the chocolate . Don’t dip further than one half of the marshmallow. Then, roll the chocolate end into the graham cracker crumbs (dip the milk chocolate marshmallows into the plain graham crackers, and the white chocolate marshmallows into the chocolate graham crackers). Place onto the parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set.
Cut a pretzel stick (or twist) so that you have about a 1/2-3/4 inch piece. Insert it into the top of the marshmallow, through the chocolate/graham cracker crumbs, to form your stem.