Is there anything that smells as wonderful as freshly baked bread? I love cutting that first warm slice and tasting it.
But the art of baking bread is quickly becoming obsolete.
In our convenience-based society, baking bread seems unnecessary, toilsome, and even antiquated. Why would you go through all that work to make something that you can easily pick up at any grocery store?
Time is precious to our overworked, over-stressed minds and the extra effort required seems like it would be a silly choice to make our own bread. I mean, isn’t our time invaluable? Shouldn’t we do everything as efficiently as possible?
Maybe I’m old-school, but I would argue that the best things in life take time and effort. The satisfaction of starting a project and taking it through to completion is something everyone enjoys.
Even if we don’t always realize it until the task is done.
And while some of the reasons to make bread are obvious (your house will smell amazing!), many you will have to dig a little deeper to see.
So in this post, I’m going to share with you ten of my favorite reasons to bake bread with my kids!
10 Reasons to Bake Bread With Your Kids
1) Fine Motor Skills are Enhanced
If you have ever made bread before, you know how important it is to measure. Too much or too little of certain ingredients could give you a rock-hard loaf… or one with so many air pockets that you could never make a sandwich.
During the baking process, kids will have to learn how to scoop ingredients carefully with a spoon, how to hold the measuring cups so that they are level, and gently feel the dough to determine if it needs more flour.
Not only will all the measuring give them practice with their fine motor skills, but it is also a fantastic first skill for children to learn in the kitchen. Measuring is the basis of all cooking and can be easily transferred from recipe to recipe once they get the idea.
2) Gross Motor Skills are Exercised
Hands Down, kneading is my oldest daughter’s favorite part… aside from the tasting, of course.
After I divide out the bread, I give her one of the sections to use (aka play with.) She rolls it with a rolling pin, pokes it with a fork, divides it with a butter knife, mimics how I’m kneading, and works on forming her own loaf.
Thankfully, bread dough at this stage is very forgiving. Once I am finished kneading and forming the other loaves, I can easily reshape her masterpiece into a loaf.
3) Patience is Learned
The first time we made bread together, I answered the question “Is it done yet?” about 45 times.
As much as I enjoyed explaining how much time was left over and over again, I’m grateful that her patience has increased each time.
Now we usually make it until the final 10 minutes of baking before the questions begin (and who can blame her for being impatient at that point?!)
4) All Five Senses are Used
Research is showing that incorporating sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell into a learning experience allows children to reach a greater proficiency in a skill than if they had learned only from pen and paper.
In that case, baking bread definitely fits the bill for a great learning experience!
As you make the bread, observe the individual ingredients before they are added together. How do they look? How do they feel? How do they smell? Let your kids touch each ingredient if you are up for a little mess!
Pro Tip: Have a wet rag close by and a stool ready at the sink before you start!
Ask your child what the mixer sounds like? Is it loud or quiet? Does the sound change as you add more flour? My daughters have learned when to turn the Bosch to a higher power just by the sound it makes when it is working too hard. Each time we bake, she is exercising her awareness of different sounds.
Feel the dough together. Is it sticky? Squishy? Spongy? How heavy is it? Can you cut it in half and make the two lumps feel like they weigh the same amount without using a scale?
Then notice the smells of the bread. Smell each ingredient, then see if you can identify any of the individual smells as it bakes. Have they combined to create something so wonderfully new that you can’t detect the old? How are they enhanced as the oven does its work?
And of course, how does it taste when the work is done? Does it taste and feel different when it is fresh out of the oven compared to when it is toasted or eaten cold? How does it taste with different spreads on it?
I guarantee your child will enjoy exploring the answers to these questions. And they will probably come up with a few questions of their own!
5) Bread Therapy
We have rainy winters in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. While we still try to get outside almost every day, some days are just better suited for indoor play.
There are many days when the girls are going stir crazy; but as soon as we start baking bread, they become attentive, focused, and calm.
There is something about having a project to work on, using your hands, and tasting the benefits that does a child good.
6) Conversation Just Happens
When you work on a project together, people naturally start talking. I’ve been surprised how many times I’ve thought someone was quiet, shy, or had nothing in common with me; but as soon as we had a task to complete together, it was like we were lifelong friends who had no loss for conversation.
Baking bread provides that common goal. My oldest daughter loves to tell me about what is going on in her life while we bake together… usually through stories about what “her kids” (dolls and stuffed animals) are working on.
If you have an older child who you are trying to connect with, try baking bread with them…without turning on an electronic device.
It may take a little time, but conversations will begin.
7) Science is Explored
The last time we made bread I decided to turn one of the loaves into a couple of pizzas (spoiler alert: bread dough does not work well for pizzas, in case you were wondering.)
Since I made the pizza in the oven first, the bread over-rose. When I put them in the oven, the loaves fell.
We pulled them out, punched them down, and let them rise again. They rose, but not as much as they should have. When I finally was able to put the bread in the oven the second time, the loaves fell. Our bread came out of the oven small and dense.
Now, if I had sat down with a pen and paper and told my daughter how the yeast works and how important it is to get the bread into the oven at just the right time… not too soon or too late… I don’t think she would have understood completely.
But I guarantee that she won’t forget her disappointment with the small bread for a while. Now she knows what happens when we don’t pay attention to science in the kitchen.
8) Making Bread at Home is Cheaper
Since we are a single-income family, I am always looking for ways to save money. I may not be able to change how much we make, but I can change our spending habits.
If you enjoy eating healthy bread, you understand how expensive it is to purchase a loaf of anything that is higher quality than plain white bread.
Not only is it expensive, but you need to eat quite a few pieces to feel full… even then, it doesn’t stick with you for very long.
Making your bread from scratch is surprisingly inexpensive. Aside from a half cup of honey which is spread out among four or five loaves, I purchase everything else in bulk. When I buy ingredients to make bread, it barely makes a difference in our grocery bill; when I purchase five loaves of bread, there’s a noticeable dent in my grocery budget.
9) Confidence is Gained
The last time we made bread, my oldest daughter worked the whole time forming her loaf instead of just playing with it like normal.
She was so proud of her loaf and asked if I could bake it as she made it instead of fixing it like I normally do.
Did it look perfect? No. Did it look like a loaf of bread? Yes! And tasted just as good as the “perfect” ones.
It gave her confidence in her skills and excitement to try it again in the future. She couldn’t wait to show her daddy the loaf she had made all by herself.
10) Baking Bread is Fun!
Baking bread may seem like an unnecessary chore; but if you do it with your children, you will soon look forward to it with anticipation.
Everything is more fun when you enjoy it with someone you love. And when that someone you love is incredibly excited and intrigued by what you are doing, even better!
I hope you are excited to make bread with your Little Ones!
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