As a child-led childminder, I prefer to follow the children’s interests rather than planning lots of themed or adult-led activities. I first noticed Little F’s interest in cakes a few weeks ago. We were at soft play and she ran over to me, hand outstretched, offering me “cake”. Of course I took the imaginary cake, thanked her and proceeded to eat it. She repeated the game over and over again, as small children often do. Since then, we have often baked imaginary cakes in the play kitchen or with loose parts.
When I saw some cute little wooden cupcakes in Sainsburys, I knew they would be a popular addition to our play kitchen and help extend Little F’s interest in cakes. I also added a small mixing bowl and a mini silicon bun tray, and sat back to watch the play that unfolded. The children took it in turns to be “the cooker”, don an apron and stir the cake mixture.
Together the girls placed the cakes into the bun tray and carefully put them in the oven. I was asked to be the timer, so after a while I called out “beep beep beep beep”. Tabitha opened the oven door to check on the cakes, but declared that they weren’t ready yet and needed a few more minutes.
Little M tried to cut up the cakes with a wooden knife, while Little F dished out plates and cutlery for everyone.
Later in the week we decided to bake some real cupcakes (the roleplay actually spanned several days but the photos above are from the same day as the baking). All the children got involved in mixing the ingredients.
At snack time we enjoyed tasting the results of our hard work. The recipe we used was Annabel Karmel’s banana butterfly cakes and the cakes were absolutely delicious!
I set up a rainbow rice sensory tray and included some baking equipment to see what the children would do with it. They played with it in lots of different ways, such as making roads and using the measuring spoons as diggers, but they also incorporated some of their new knowledge about cake baking into their play.
So, what did the children learn from this experience? They used their existing knowledge of cooking to roleplay the sequence of baking cakes. They played together, negotiating tasks, sharing and taking turns. They helped me weigh out ingredients. They explored different textures and observed how the ingredients changed during mixing. They practised using tools such as forks, spoons and whisks. They counted out the right number of cases and placed them into the bun tray using 1:1 correspondence. The older ones noticed that the cakes were rising in the oven and discussed why that was happening, and the younger ones used language such as “hot”. They noticed that the measuring spoons were different sizes and talked about “empty”, “more” and “full”. We covered most of the areas of learning in the EYFS simply by following and developing a child’s interests!