Baking Crate

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For my boy who loves helping in the kitchen, our latest crate from Koala Crate may have been the favorite of all we’ve received in 2 years of our subscription. A quick warning though: This crate is messy! But in the best way, of course. So grab some newspaper to cover your work surface and get “baking.”

First up, every chef needs a toque, so we decorated the Chef Hat that was project #1.  Squeeze the provided paint pens onto a paper plate, and use the provided foam shapes to decorate.

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Travis had fun dotting the stamps here and there, but I showed him a few of the suggestions in the instructions, too, combining shapes to make ice cream cones, lemons, or apples.

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More fun than the decorating was simply wearing it. Look at that baker’s joy!

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Next up was frosting the Pretend Cake project.

Squeeze out air-dry clay (from adorable little “pastry bags”) onto the provided foam triangles, and spread your frosting with a craft stick.

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Travis loved that this was just like a Daniel Tiger episode he had seen, and frosted all 8 pieces so seriously and carefully. I showed him how to stack them into a layer cake, and then we used the provided punch-out decorations to add berries and candles.

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Another quick note of warning: The toque and cake will both need to dry for several hours, so make sure your children know there will be a waiting period, to avoid disappointment! Travis was so happy once he could finally play.

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Next up was Measuring Fun, a far more technical and mathematical lesson about cooking, with almost endless variations. First, encourage your child to line up the cups by size.

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Then try filling the cups (which came in 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup and tablespoon denominations) with rice or another dried grain. Travis loved leveling with a spoon!

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We moved on to a wet ingredient (water). Get down at belly level and see the meniscus.

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Show your child how you need different numbers of each cup to make 1 cup of water – 2 of the 1/2 cup, 3 of the 1/3 cup and so on. And a whopping 16 tablespoons!

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I sort of lost Travis at this point, because he had his own game going, spooning the water into the dried grains and mixing up a “recipe” – a true chef!

There are 3 activity cards that go with the measuring cups, meaning we played for days thereafter. First up was the yellow card, with two color mixing activities: Rainbow Color Mixing and Shades of Colors.

For the former, we squirted our paint pens into three cups of plain water to make red, yellow, and blue, the primary colors.

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To make the secondary colors, we mixed these primary colors at a 1:1 ratio (using our tablespoon as a guide), and soon had a full rainbow!

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For the latter, we used different ratios of colors to make varying shades. 1 tablespoon of yellow + 8 blue made a very bluish-green, whereas the reverse (1 blue + 8 yellow) made a lime green. Travis loved this, and soon was mixing up oranges, purples and more.

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After lots of playing mixologist, we only had variations of beige and brown.

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While he gleefully poured colors back and forth, we talked about how chefs use this same method – measuring ingredients in varying combinations – to make a recipe.

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Next up was the green card: Measuring Fractions and Measuring Volume. For the former, line up 3 cups of identical size, and show your child that you can make 1 cup of rice in each by using: two 1/2 cups, three 1/3 cups, four 1/4 cups, or 16 tablespoons.

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A neat trick is to show them that the second (bottom) number on the cup (i.e. the denominator) is the number of times they’ll need to use that cup to make 1 full cup. Travis loved helping count out, especially the full 16!

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Then we played around with volume. I poured 1 cup or rice into each of three containers – a tall cup, a short cup, and a wide bowl. Just like most kids will, Travis guessed that the tall glass had the most rice, a cute first lesson on volume. You can try this with different containers and water, too!

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For a final day of fun, we played with the red card. Now it was time to make recipes, one edible and one not.

For Trail Mix, use your cups to combine the following: 1/2 cup cereal, 1/3 cup pretzel twists, 3 tablespoons raisins, and 1 tablespoon chocolate chips.

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Then we mixed up Bubble Water. Use the measuring cups to combine 4 cups water (8 of your child’s 1/2 cup), 1/4 cup dish soap, and 2 tablespoons sugar.

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Not only was this fun to mix…

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…but it made for fantastic end-of-summer play outside on our patio, blowing bubbles, popping them in the grass, and catching them.

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What else can you do with your measuring cups? We tried whipped up a fruit salad:

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I encouraged Travis to measure each fruit before he added it to the mix, though truth be told he was more interested in eating the fruit than the measuring lesson.

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If you like, write down the recipe you create on an index card so your little chef can repeat it in the future.

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Whew, that was a lot! Apologies for the long post, but thank you for the fun, Koala Crate!

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