In hopes of encouraging spring to come, we’re reading Little Bunny Follows His Nose by Katherine Howard, illustrated by J. P. Miller. In this scratch-and-sniff book, Mother Bunny tells Little Bunny to go out and play. But he doesn’t know what to do. Mother Bunny says, “Follow your nose.” (Hmmm. Do you think that will work with our kids?) As you read about Little Bunny’s adventures, you get to smell what he finds following his nose—roses, strawberries, peaches, and more. So even if you don’t smell spring yet, you can get a whiff in this book.
The last smell Little Bunny follows (spoiler alert – HA!) is chocolate chip cookies that Mother Bunny is baking. It isn’t necessarily a spring smell for me, but it was a good rainy-day project for the boys. We’ve added a touch of spring with some M&Ms.
Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Your Kids
Chocolate chip cookies are my go-to cookies. Actually, they’re really my go-to homemade food. Some people have all the makings of sauce in their cabinets. I always have what I need to bake chocolate chip cookies. I’ve tried many recipes, but Tollhouse is my favorite. It’s the recipe on the back of the package. I might even have it memorized.
Now I love baking. That’s pretty much what I do in the kitchen. (My husband is the cook.) And if I’m doing something in the kitchen (or my husband), the boys want to help. This is a fairly easy one to do with them.
With two kids, I need two of everything to evenly split the work. This recipe pretty much has two of everything—two eggs, two cups of flour, and many ingredients that call for ¾ cup, which means ½ cup for one and ¼ cup for another (good math lesson, too). The boys take turns scooping and dumping. And, of course, I make sure there’s two things—beater and spatula—to lick when we’re done.
While they’re licking, I scoop and plop the cookie dough on the cookie sheets. I always use a scoop to ensure the cookies are about the same size (so their baking time is about the same) and to keep the mess to one hand so the other stays clean. (You never know when you’ll need it.)
Since we were adding M&Ms, I pressed the balls of dough down a bit so there was more surface to add the M&Ms.
Then the boys add the M&Ms. This can be a good counting exercise. Make the cookies like dominoes or dice so the first one has only one M&M, the second has two, the third has three, and so on.
Then we pop one tray at a time into the oven. This is a trick my Mom, who is the baker extraordinaire, discovered years ago. If you put more than one tray in the oven, the cookies tend to spread more.
However, this batch spread more than they have in the past. Of course, afterwards, I remembered a few tricks I’ve used before that might help you:
- Use mini chocolate chips instead of the big ones. That way the chips aren’t fighting with the M&Ms. (If you really like M&Ms, you could skip the chips altogether.)
- Before you bake the cookies, put the tray with the dough in the refrigerator or freezer. The cookies will still bake fine, but they’ll better hold their shape.
- If you really want a perfect look, add the M&Ms towards the end of baking. Since the cookies are almost done, the M&Ms will sit on the top of the cookie and not sink as much. Of course, be careful of little hands helping with this.
While they baked, we read and did some activities. Here are a few ideas for Little Bunny Follows His Nose.
- Make Connections to the Book: Ask your kids, “What else do we smell in the spring?” Discussing this simple question helps them relate what you read in the book to their world, which will deepen their understanding and connection with the book.
- Move Around: Take a walk with your kids (maybe not while the cookies are in the oven) and “follow your nose.” What do you smell in your neighborhood?
- Get Creative: Encourage your kids to draw their favorite smell of spring. If you’re feeling really ambitious, break out the glue and have them decorate their picture with glitter, scraps of paper, felt, or other craft items.
Of course, the best activity is eating the cookies. Enjoy!