Nutrition Activity Booklet A Message to Those Who Care for Children:

Nutrition Activity Booklet
A Message to Those Who Care for Children:
Children will delight in this unit featuring
variations of stories on The Gingerbread Man,
while at the same time building their
enjoyment of cooking. The gingerbread cookie
recipe is a healthy twist on an old recipe but with
less sugar and added whole-wheat flour. Children
will have fun as you help them with measuring,
mixing, rolling, cutting, decorating, and eating.
All five senses are used during this fun
adventure with gingerbread cookies.
Jill Patterson, Ph.D.
Dept. of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State
Storybooks on Baking Gingerbread Men
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (G.P. Putnam’s Sons,
1999) Find out what happens when Matti opens the oven
door before his gingerbread is finished baking. A new
twist on the traditional tale.
The Gingerbread Man retold by Eric A. Kimmel
(Scholastic with Holiday House Inc., 1993)
The classic tale of the gingerbread man who runs away to
escape being eaten only to be tricked by a fox.
Maisy Makes Gingerbread by Lucy Cousins
(Candlewick Press, 1999)
Maisy the mouse enjoys mixing up a batch of gingerbread
cookies to share with her friends. (Note: Remind children
that when they help to bake cookies, they should not lick
the spoon. The raw eggs in the batter could make them
Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington
(Scholastic with Dutton Children’s Books, 1992)
A simple story about a day in the life of a baker and his
cookie shop.
What’s Inside
Sensing the Kitchen
Use these ideas so
children learn to enjoy
cooking and helping in
the kitchen.
Recipe for Gingerbread
Let children help make
and decorate this tasty
and nutritious snack.
Recipe Sequence
A fun foldout to display
for children to follow
the gingerbread
cookie recipe.
Mix Cooking with
The Gingerbread Man
story has many variations
for story time.
Family Nutrition News
A send–home page you
can copy and share with
Sensing the Kitchen
Use one of the storybooks listed below to introduce the five senses during your
group or circle time. Be sure children understand what each sense does and
how important they are in helping us learn about the world around us. Make a
recording of many sounds you would hear in a kitchen such as running water, a
can opening, mixing with an electric mixer, a timer ticking, chopping with a knife, a toaster
popping, popcorn popping, or something frying in a pan, or other kitchen sounds. Play the
tape, stopping after each sound so children can talk about what they hear.
Get several black film canisters. Punch holes in the lids of the canisters
using a hammer and nail. Place an scented food or spice into each container.
Some suggestions would be coffee, cocoa mix, pepper, peanut butter, onion,
orange extract, cinnamon, and ginger. Children will have great fun guessing
what is inside.
See and Touch.
Gather pictures of various kitchen appliances and tools such as a
mixer, a toaster, a microwave, a blender, and a stove. Also have on
hand several kitchen utensils for children to handle such as a wooden
spoon, a slotted spoon, a spatula, a wire wisk, a ladle, measuring
cups, and a rolling pin. Talk about what each object is and how it is used in the kitchen.
Allow children to share their experiences with using some of the kitchen items. Talk about
kitchen rules such as always asking an adult for help in the kitchen.
Taste and Smell.
Raisins are a healthful decoration to put on gingerbread cookies.
Do your children know that raisins are dried grapes? Drying fruits
preserves them. Ask for help from families for this tasting experience.
Ask families to donate fruits and dried fruits such as grapes and
raisins, apples and dried apple rings, pineapple and dried pineapple rings, etc. You only
need a small amount of each item for a tasting activity. Allow children to taste each fresh
fruit followed by its dried version. Do they taste similar? Are some more sour or more
sweet? Which do they like? Have each child hold his nose and close his eyes before tasting
a fruit. Can he guess what it is? A fun variation is to use gourmet flavored jelly beans to try
tasting while holding your nose. Smell is very important for tasting flavors.
Books for the Senses
Busy Bunnies’ Five Senses by Teddy Slater (Scholastic, Inc., 1999).
Little bunny characters introduce all five senses with simple, easy text and bright colorful
Your Five Senses by Bobbi Katz (Scholastic, Inc., 1995).
This book tells about all the “super-duper things” your senses do for you. Questions posted
throughout the book encourage children to talk about each sense. The last pages lead to a
matching game between pictures and their descriptions.
Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies
Decorating Ideas
Prepare to use all of your senses while making
gingerbread cookies. You may want to spread this activity out over two days; one day for mixing and chilling,
the next for cutting out, baking, and decorating. During
the entire process be sure to help children use their
senses. What are they hearing, smelling, touching,
seeing, and tasting? You may want to make a chart
that lists some of the children’s comments to share
with families. Do not forget to send a copy of the recipe
home for families to enjoy.
• Plump up raisins in
hot water to decorate
cookies before baking.
Nuts such as almond
slices and walnuts can
also be pressed into
cookies before baking.
You will need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
(or 2 sticks margarine)
2 eggs*, or egg substitute
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole–wheat flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together sugar and margarine. Then add
the eggs and molasses. In a separate bowl sift the dry
ingredients together. Then mix dry ingredients into
wet ingredients. Cover and chill about 3 hours or until
the dough is easy to handle. If doing this over 2 days,
remove dough from refrigerator 1 hour before children
begin to roll it out.
• After cookies have
cooled, children can
spread a thin coating of
frosting, cream cheese,
or peanut butter. Add
nuts, raisins, or dried
fruit pieces for the face
and buttons. Eat soon if
you use cream cheese.
• Omit decorations and dip
cookies into yogurt,
pudding, or applesauce
at snack time.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to an 1/8
inch thickness. Using your gingerbread boy (or girl)
cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes. Place 1 inch apart
onto greased cookie sheets.
Bake in a 350°F oven for 9 to 10 minutes or until
edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for
1 minute. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks.
See the upper right-hand column for decorating ideas.
Makes 36 cookies. One cookie provides 130 calories, 2
grams protein, 1 gram fiber, and 6 grams fat.
Baking Tip: Use parchment paper (found in the baking section of
the grocery store) so that you can label and separate each child’s
cookie while baking.
Special thanks to Birgit Patterson for recipe testing.
*Use caution with raw eggs.
There is a small risk of
salmonella (a bacteria)
contaminating raw eggs, so no
one should lick the spoon. If
you feel children cannot follow
this rule, use powdered egg or
egg substitute.
Follow the pictures to make your
Illustrated by Lauren Brynn Luloff
Put 1 cup sugar and
2 sticks margarine
in bowl.
Roll dough.
Mash and blend.
Add 2 eggs and
1/2 cup molasses.
Cut out shapes.
Put on baking tray.
Note to adult: Be sure to have children wash their hands before handling food. Always wat
and snacks. Young children, ages 2 to 3 especially, are at risk of choking on food.
ad cookies
r own gingerbread cookies to eat!
Mix again.
10 Bake 9 minutes.
tch children during meals
Sift dry
11 Decorate.
Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 36 cookies. One cookie provides
130 calories, 2 grams protein, 1 gram
fiber, and 6 grams fat.
Mix dry ingredients
with wet.
Then refrigerate.
12 Enjoy!
Mix Cooking with Storybooks
Cooking and Storybooks are a Good Mix
Why Cook with Kids?
There are many versions of the story “The Gingerbread Man.” Visit
your local library and check out a few. Start by reading a traditional
version, such as The Gingerbread Man by Eric Kummel, where the
gingerbread man is made by an elderly couple and in the end is
eaten by a sly fox. On another day, after reviewing the previous
day’s story, read a version that is slightly different, perhaps one
which takes place in a different setting, such as The Gingerbread
Boy by Richard Egieslski, or one that involves different animals
than the first version. After reading the second story, ask children
what was the same about the two stories. Be sure to have both
books available to refresh memories. After hearing several
answers, ask children to name what was different between the two
stories. If time and attention spans permit, you may want to chart
the children’s comparisons. Finally, read a version on the third day
that has a totally different ending such as The Gingerbread Baby
by Jan Brett.
Cooking allows children to use
their senses, improve their fine
motor skills, be curious, and try
new foods. It also allows them
to observe food changes (“It
looked different going into the
oven than it does coming out”),
build self-esteem (“Wow, I made
it myself”), and learn new words
and skills.
Now for the really fun part!
Have children create their own gingerbread story. This is an activity that may last many circle times. Have children choose which
characters they want. Be open to ideas other than those that were
in the books you read. Brainstorm an ending, then have each child
draw pictures on each page of the book. You write the words on
each page as told by the children. Laminate the pages and bind it
together for your library. It’s sure to become a favorite. Don’t forget
to share it with families.
Involve families.
Ask families
to prepare
a favorite
dish or
recipe with
to bring
to childcare.
Let each
child share with the class what
she did to help her family member make the food. Encourage
children to try a taste of each
food that has been brought for
Family Nutrition News
On-the-Go Kids Need Healthy Snacks
Snacks are especially important for two- to six-year-olds
because their stomachs are small and hunger comes
often. Snacks between meals fill in gaps for needed
nutrients such as vitamins A and C and calcium. Surveys
reveal that many children do not get enough of these nutrients so snacks are the place to sneak them in.
Plan snacks at least one hour before mealtime. Snacks or
sweetened drinks too close to meals can depress the appetite for an upcoming meal.
Give them choices! Let your child choose her snack from
a few healthy foods. This way she feels she has some
control and ends up with a healthy snack no matter what
she chooses.
Hunger in the car? Have a plastic baggy with ready–to–eat
cereals, raisins, or crackers, plus a bottle of water, to
pacify hunger if dinner is going to be a while.
Offer two or three food group choices for snacks to get
vitamins, calcium, and fiber.
• For calcium, offer milk most often. Low fat yogurt,
pudding, or cheese are good choices, too.
• For vitamins A and C and fiber, fruits and vegetables
are super choices.
• B vitamins and fiber are from breads, crackers, and
cereals, especially those labeled whole grain.
• Nuts, peanut butter, beans, or hummus is a healthy
snack idea loaded with protein.
• Less often choose cookies and sweets. However, read
the label for healthier choices with less sugar and fat,
or more fiber.
Cooking and Snacking
with Children
Children can have fun taking
part in simple cooking
activities. Helping in the
kitchen can help their
reading and math too. The
wow of “I made it myself”
may improve the acceptance
of new foods by a fussy
What children can do:
• Help pick the
• Set the table.
• Cut soft foods,
like bananas,
with a butter
• Measure ingredients, like
flour, and add to bowl.
• Stir and mix.
• Rip lettuce or spinach into
bite–size pieces.
• Knead and shape dough
for breads, biscuits, or
• Help clean off the table.
What you can do:
• Don’t worry about messes.
• Share a special moment
with your child.
• Be a role model. Eat
nutritious meals and
snacks with your child.
Guard against choking.
Watch children while they eat.
Readers may photocopy this page to send home to families.
Prepared by Jill Patterson,
assistant professor of nutrition,
Kathy Gorman and Carol Lebold,
project specialists, Charles
Orlofsky, graphic designer, and Julie Haines,
assistant director, Nutrition Links Program
Portions of this material came from Celebrate
Healthy Eating, a collaborative project with Dannon
Institute (a nonprofit foundation), Scholastic Inc.,
and the Dept. of Nutritional Sciences at the
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.
Dept. of Nutritional Sciences
College of Health and Human Development
Cooperative Extension • College of Agricultural Sciences
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