Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cookie Season: A Sweet Time for Little Bakers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cookie Season: A Sweet Time for Little Bakers

Article excerpt

Life is sweet for Alex Vice. This time of year - every year - she, her mother, and her "Grammie" get together to bake Christmas cookies. "I like tasting the dough, eating the scraps," says the six-year-old from Kingsport, Tenn.

"We make reindeer, Santa Clauses, snowmen, and the cookies you press out: They're called spritzes," she says. "We decorate them with frosting and sprinkles."

Nowadays, Alex's younger brother, Shea, gets in on the action. But "sometimes he doesn't push {the cookie cutter} down all the way," Alex says.

Alex and Shea are two of countless children who will be up to their elbows in flour in the coming weeks.

As families unearth their heirloom cookie recipes and dust off their rolling pins, they are reminded that cookie time in the kitchen is part holiday tradition and part family fun.

"It's nice that you can keep the tradition going from generation to generation," explains Juli Vice, Alex and Shea's mother.

But along with tradition come many educational perks. For one, baking cookies is often a child's first introduction to the kitchen. "Children love things they can do with their hands, such as shaping cookies," says Maida Heatter, author of numerous baking books, including the latest "Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies" (Random House, 244 pp., $25). They experience accomplishment and reward for their creative efforts: "Look, Mommy, I made a house," she mimics sweetly.

In addition to learning about measures, chemistry, kitchen safety, and reading and following directions, children practice patience and the art of giving. "The whole idea of cooking at home means sharing," says Marion Cunningham, who has just come out with "Cooking With Children:15 Lessons for Children, Age 7 and Up, Who Really Want to Learn to Cook" (Knopf, 171 pp., $18).

"There's a natural curiosity that cooking brings out," Ms. Cunningham continues. "Making cookies for the holidays is celebratory, festive, and memorable. There's something endearing about all this. …

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