Read it and cook it!

If there is one thing I almost never share on this blog is food or snack recipes.  This is because cooking really and truly isn’t one of my special gifts!  But that is not to say that we don’t cook in my classroom – we actually cook all the time – I just lack the confidence to blog about it.  So today, I am going to step outside of my comfort zone and share with you some of the cooking activities we have been cooking up in our classroom this year along with the books we have read…

Blueberries for Sal

At the beginning of the school year, we made blueberry muffins to go with the book Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey .

Whenever we cook up a recipe like this, I just use the recipe on the box. I rarely actually cook anything totally from scratch. But the children still get to measure out the different ingredients, pour in the water, add the eggs, and stir it all up….

The Popcorn Book

To go with the book “The Popcorn Book” by Tomie dePaola, we tried to make flavored popcorn using Jello.  This turned out horrible! First we burnt the popcorn in the microwave so the entire room smelled like burnt popcorn for a week…

So we ate the popcorn that didn’t get burned and then colored the rest with powdered tempera paint…

And used the colored popcorn to make sensory bottles…

And popcorn trees…

Mouse Paint

To go with the book “Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh, we painted with colored icing.  The children loved this activity. We added a few drops of food color to white icing and the children used the colored icing to paint their muffins…

Each child was given their own “paint pallet” to work from so they wouldn’t have to share icing or worry about passing germs around.  They were also given a new paint brush to work with. The children took their time painting their muffins and ended up using very little icing in the process. I had a ton of icing left over…

Some of the children liked mixing all their colors on the plate first and others preferred to just paint their muffins…

Elmer the Elephant

To go with the book “Elmer the Elephant” by David McKee, we made different colors of mini-muffins. I had recently bought a muffin maker and was very excited about using it in the classroom….

The children mixed up all the ingredients and then we separated the mix into small measuring cups and mixed in some food color to make different colors of mini-muffins…

We baked up our first batch of mini-muffins, poured them in my new muffin maker and they turned out wonderful…

And then the muffin maker stopped working. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it and it never did work again – it is still sitting in my garage…

Pete’s a Pizza

For the book “Pete’s a Pizza” by William Steig, each child made their own personal sized pizza…

Each child made their own pizza dough using Jiffy Pizza mix and then shaped the dough on a pizza pan…

Then the children added their own pizza sauce…

And pizza toppings…

And we baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes (or until they looked fully baked)…

Our pizza crust was so thick you could just barely cut it with the pizza cutter but it tasted great and smelled wonderful…

About our cooking

  • Keep in mind that we don’t cook like this every day!
  • We cook up something special about once and sometimes twice a month.
  • We always wash hands before, during, and after cooking and do our very, very best to only touch our own food.
  • When we are not cooking, we eat simple snacks like crackers, cheese, apples, and other food items that really are not that interesting to blog about.
More cooking…
We have done more cooking activities that I would like to share with you but this post was long enough for today so I hope you enjoyed our cooking activities and would love to hear what you cook up in your classroom. And if you have a children’s book you tie it to – please share that too!
Leave your cooking comments below!


Books on Amazon


And here are links to cookbooks on Amazon that I don’t own…

By |2012-03-21T12:00:53+00:00March 21st, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Sarah March 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    We made rainbow cupcakes to go alonmg with “A Rainbow of My Own”. I know you blogged several great activities to go with this book as well. You mix the cupcake mix then seperate it into different containers, dye each container a different color with neon food coloring, then have the children layer each color into the cupcake cup. They are really pretty! We also make gingerbread men every year when we read “The Gingerbread Man.” It is really easy if you get the pre-made gingerbread cookie dough that is available around Christmas time. You just roll out the dough, have the children cut out the gingerbread men with a cookie cutter, bake and decorate! If you are more ambitious, you can make gingerbread houses for them after reading Jan Brett’s “GIngerbread Baby.”

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      I love both ideas Sarah! I forgot that we made gingerbread cookies too! I will have to add that to another post on another day!

  2. maggy, red ted art March 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Aaaah I love this post – I am actually amazed and inspired how you just have a “go at something you feel you are not so good at” and that the children get to join in too and not miss out. Sounds like they have lots of fun experimenting and exploring with you 🙂

    PS and popcorn flavoured with jelly?!?! Really, that is supposed to work? Wow!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Well Maggy, I heard it was supposed to work but it didn’t turn out quite so well for me:)

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 22, 2012 at 1:20 am - Reply

      I am so happy you stopped by Maggie:)

  3. Kim @ The Educators Spin On It March 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    We love your post about cooking with kids. It’s such a fun way to bring books to life and teach so many concepts at one time. We have had lots of fun with our Little Hands that Cook with Books classes that we share online.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing the link Kim!

  4. Teach_Ohio March 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    My kiddos love when we do cooking activities! During our author study on Laura Numeroff we made several dishes that tied in with her If You Give A… series. We made cookies (If You Give A Mouse A Cookie), muffins (If You Give A Moose A Muffin), and since the end of the author study coincided with Valentines Day, we made our V-day party treats- pancakes (If You Give A Pig A Pancake), along with scrambled eggs, and we had bananas and orange juice too! (We had to balance the meal in order to replace our normal lunch and still meet food program requirements!) It was a wonderful alternative to a bunch of sweet treats. We’ve also made melted snowman cookies, and popcorn in the air popper.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Excellent ideas!! I may have to borrow a few!!

  5. Vanessa @Pre-K Pages March 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I’m right there with you Deb! I’m also not a very talented cook and feel uncomfortable with cooking in the classroom, but like you- I do it anyway 🙂 One time while toasting pumpkin seeds I shorted out the electrical outlet in an old school building I was working in and the fire alarms went off! Thanks for sharing your great “recipes” and for stepping out of your comfort zone.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Haha – luckily we haven’t set off any alarms yet!

  6. I love using cooking and baking activities to promote language growth in preschool, thanks for all your great ideas for linking these activities to books! We recently read The Little Red Hen and then made homemade bread in my bread machine. The kids loved this and it was an excellent activity to use with the story and learn how to make bread. I would guess that for some of the children in my class this was the first time they had eaten homemade bread. You can read about it and see the recipe here:

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 22, 2012 at 12:06 am - Reply

      Oh, homemade bread would be wonderful to try in the classroom!

  7. Laurie March 22, 2012 at 8:05 am - Reply

    I love all of these, but we have so many food allergies/sensitivities that cooking anything is so much work. Every ingredient has to be processed in nut-free facilities, and then throw in the kids who have to have gluten-free or dairy-free… It becomes more trouble than it’s worth, unfortunately.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Keep searching Laurie – for the kids to get these experiences, it will be worthwhile. Ask your parents to send in ingredients and recipes that you can use!

  8. Nancy March 22, 2012 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I guess I’d better add that when you add the yogurt to the smoothies you don’t need to use any milk. That would water it down too much. You can even use frozen fruits such as blueberries along with your strawberries and bananas. You really can’t leave out the bananas. They help with the smoothie texture.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Oooh, glad you added that because I would have surely added both!!

  9. Nancy March 22, 2012 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Sorry I posted this on your spaghetti page. I wandered away from the smoothie page when I got fascinated with the ideas.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Haha – keep wondering:)

  10. Pamela Courtney March 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Oh how I love this post!! Let me count the ways:
    I love the creative way you connect cooking with literature
    I love the hands on experience you give your early learners
    I love that you allow you early learners to explore & create on their own
    I love cooking
    I love eating
    I love cooking w/kids!!!


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      I LOVE your enthusiastic comment – you made me smile:)

  11. Jen Arndt April 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    One of my kiddos termed the phrase, “Cook -n- Book”! I absolutely love it. They easily learned to recognize it on the schedule and get so excited!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Oh that is awesome! It is amazing how much young children can understand a schedule when presented in terms they enjoy and can understand.

  12. JustCorey May 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    I discovered blueberries for sal in a cooking with children book… sorry cant recall the name right now. Love the other ideas you have for cooking with kids and books… thanks for your list!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Corey:)

  13. Bette Vaughan September 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    When we do our unit on apples, I read Country Bear’s Good neighbor by Brimner. It has a wonderful recipe in the book for an apple cake. The children love it. We read Sam the Chef and made and decorated sugar cookies. We do a lot of cooking in our class from all the scented playdoughs to applesauce to rainbow cakes.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      You are getting me all excited about doing more cooking Bette – I am going to plan something for next week!!

  14. Jenni September 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,
    Found you via No Twiddle Twaddle today and I have been reading all your posts wishing I had found you earlier! Love this post- the popcorn made me laugh and so did the leftover muffin icing! Me and my two kids do the same cake recipes all the time cos I lack cooking skills but your attitude to potential disasters was very encouraging! Thank you- I will try to be more positive and try to see the funny side more when we go wrong in future. PS loved the popcorn trees!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Oh Jenni,
      I truly am the worst cook so I think that makes us both perfect for cooking with preschoolers because in the end, they just love the experience and that I can provide!


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