Both my gorgeous kiddies are tactile defensive so from a very early age we have been using baking as an activity for them to “get their hands messy” and experiment with textures that they would normally avoid like the plague.
We started with very basic store-bought baking mixes where the kids would add a few extras in, maybe an egg or pour some milk and then they would need to mix it.
Now whenever a recipe says it needs to be mixed I interoperate that as – Kids use your hands to mix it all together. Which is why starting with the basic store-bought mixes really suited my daughter, she needed to build up her confidence very slowly. So once we found a mixture that she was happy to mix with her hands and enjoyed eating it afterwards we stuck with it for a little while. For her this repetition was key. Just trying a tactile activity once is not enough, she needs to do it a number of times so that her body learns it is not sore. My daughter feels the softest thing as something sore (example drizzle on her skin is a very sore sensation for her which she needed to learn by repetition was not actually hurting her body). Once she got confident with her current mix we would move onto a another one, slowly building them up so that they included more ingredients and more textures.
And then we branched out onto our own recipes. We found a few that she loved baking and even 3 years later she sill asks for her favourite recipes, only now she does them almost all from scratch (I still work the oven for her and have to help her with tough dough mixes).
When she started helping me make date balls she would only roll 3 date balls into the coconut. The date ball mixture is very gooey and it is these gooey type textures that both my kids still struggle touching. But over time she has progressed from just rolling 3 or 4 date balls to almost managing the whole mixture. Lots of repetition but that repetition has helped her “train herself” (trying to find a good phrase).
She is now progressing to the point where she can do a few recipes all by herself.
Her younger brother also enjoys baking but he normally does not sticks around for the whole process. He tends to choose when to join in and when to exist. He also has a few favourites – without a doubt the animal footprint biscuits are his favourite.
With him I try to get him to be present with the dough mixing and I have found that baking scones (from a store-bought mix) is just the right activity for him at this stage. It is not too long a process, so he normally is involved the whole time and he loves rubbing the dough together plus he gets to eat the scones afterwards and he LOVES scones.
I am happy to resort back to store-bought scone mixes for him as both he and his sister will spend ages rubbing the dough together and it is an excellent tactile activity for both kids. Think play dough but with more texture. And if you watch the way their fingers are working in that dough you just know that it is an excellent activity for strengthening those little fingers which helps with their writing.
When I bake with the kids it is all about their experience and enjoyment – yes baking something from scratch is great (and my daughter is at that stage). But for my younger son he is just not at that stage yet but store-bought scone mixes are perfect for him. And let’s be totally honest we all get to eat yummy scones afterwards
If you are in the UK are two favourite scone mixes are the Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s branded ones