As soon as your kids are old enough, whether male or female, get ’em in the kitchen. So much fun can be had while “cooking” together! Messes are made, the food is a bit sloppy, but your kids are learning some basic culinary skills and feel a great sense of accomplishment when the final result is served to the family! One great source of fun has been using cooking activities to learn about important spiritual truths or Bible stories. Here are a few ideas:
* Make “haystack” cookies together around Christmas time, but call them “manger cookies.” Use the cookies to talk about the reality of Jesus’ birth in a stable; how as a newborn he was placed on a pile of hay as his bed. Each cookie can represent the hay in baby Jesus’ manger.
* Make homemade pretzels together. Pretzels were originally used as a food during Lent, meant to represent a traditional posture of prayer during earlier times: arms crossed across the chest. We make them on Ash Wednesday as a family to start our Lenten season, but you could make them any time as a way to discuss and celebrate the practice of prayer. (Eric Carle’s excellent childrens’ book Walter the Baker is a great tale of a pretzel-maker and includes information about pretzels and prayer at the very end.)
* Make “Empty Tombs.” This is a simple snack that you can modify anyway you’d like. You need cresent roll dough, cinnamon sugar, and jumbo marshmallows. Flatten each cresent roll triangle and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on one side. Help your kids place 1 marshmallow (or half of a marshmallow) in the middle, then fold up and seal the dough so that the marshmallow is completely enclosed. At this point, talk about how Jesus’ body was sealed in a tomb after he died on the cross for our sins. Next, bake the rolls roughly following the cresent roll directions. When they’re all done and cooled off a bit, let your kids take a bite. The marshmallow is gone! The “tomb” is empty! Use this magical snack to share with your children the miracle and meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.