Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthdays in Preschool

A couple of my students celebrated birthdays this week. We make a big deal out of birthdays in my class; we make cupcakes! The birthday child gets to choose what kind of cake and frosting he wants (I always have a couple of choices on hand), and then we make the cupcakes as a class.

This is a great exercise in beginning recipe reading. Cake mixes now have the pictures of the ingredients right on the box, and the kids take great joy in being able to tell me exactly what ingredients we need to get. By the end of the school year, and the celebration of many birthdays, the students can differentiate between different measuring utensils, and they understand the idea of following the steps in a recipe.

The hardest part of these birthday rituals is trying to convince the kids that they can't lick their fingers, and then stick them back into the bowl. Because, ewww. I have tried several methods to try to curb this temptation. I have gone into long detailed explanations about the transfer of germs via fingers and mouth, but found that by the time I had finished this diatribe that there were about 6 children up to their elbows in cake batter. I have also tried to detail the dangers of e-coli in raw eggs, but this lecture had the same result as the germ lecture. My current strategy is simply saying the rule is no licking fingers at school. This technique has had better results; only two children end up elbow deep in cake batter as opposed to six. I comfort myself that very few germs can survive 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

We make mini cupcakes, and after they are cooked each child gets a plate with a cupcake, a dollop of the chosen frosting and a small pile of sprinkles. Each child decorates their own cupcake, some with care and detail, some with reckless abandon. Some kids eat each part separately. Last year, I had one little boy who would stuff the whole cupcake in his mouth, and then tell me, mouth full of cupcake, that I forgot to give him his cupcake. He tried this on every single birthday celebration. I am happy to report I only fell for it twice.

The birthday child gets to take the leftover cupcakes, frosting and sprinkles home to decorate with their family.

By the end of the year, my students can whip out a batch of cupcakes in record time. And that is an important life skill.


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