From the frothing waves of frosting to the sweet sugary taste, what kid doesn't drool for cupcakes? Although you can't let you little one feed her cupcake fancy daily, you can treat her to an occasional activity that revolves around these super-sweet treats. Engage the pint-sized pastry chef who wants to help you decorate the cakes, the young scientist eager to explore the chemistry behind baking or the mini Monet who wants to create her own cupcake still-life painting.
With the popularity of cake-decorating reality shoes, such as the "Cake Boss," your child might want to try his hand at becoming a true frosting artist, too. Help your child get creative and come up with themed ideas. Toddlers, can get in on the cupcake decorating action by dripping sprinkles over the frosted cakes. Older kids and teens can get more complicated and come up with a holiday or a themed décor such as using white frosting to make Halloween ghost cakes or red, white and blue frosting layers to make Fourth of July treats.
The child development experts at PBS Parents note that cooking activities provide a prime means for your kids to learn about scientific concepts such as the physical changes that matter goes through. Help your little learner get hands-on and see how a powdery mix can transform into a fluffy cake. Let your child measure the ingredients -- adding in a pinch of math learning -- and then mix them together. Discuss how the mix is now almost liquid-like and ask your child to hypothesize what will happen after you bake it. Put the cupcakes in the oven for your child. Never allow your child to use the oven, or any other heat source, herself. When the timer goes off, take the cupcakes out of the oven for your child and have her see that they are now a solid.
Adding décor to your cupcakes isn't the only way your child can get artsy with his baking. After you bake, or buy, his favorite cupcakes, set them out on a decorative tray and have him create a still-life. Set up a easel with white drawing paper or a piece of paper on a table near the cakes. Give your child a pencil to sketch what he sees. After his drawing is done, he can add color with water-color paints, temperas, markers or oil pastel crayons.
Unless you want your child to think that it's completely acceptable to eat mounds of cakes, a lesson on healthful eating is crucial. Discuss what is, and what isn't a healthful food. Make a list on a piece of poster board that has healthful items such as fruits and vegetables on one side and the less healthful ones such as cupcakes on the other. Ask your child what she thinks would happen if she ate fruits every day vs. eating a cupcake. Let her know that while cupcakes are acceptable as an occasional treat, they don't fit into a healthy daily eating plan. Show her a copy of the food pyramid, or the newly updated My Plate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and talk about where cupcakes do and don't fit.