I used to be a cookie decorator. Then I stayed home to have my first daughter. Then I used to blog about cookies. Then I started blogging about other sweets, too. Then the baby got older and needier. Then I started making stuff easier and quicker. Then I started making, easy, quick stuff that I could do with my daughter. Because I’m with my kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day in, day out, minute after minute, second on top of second–at least while school is out for the summer–over the years I’ve ended up with quite a few kid-friendly food crafts. Here are the bestest ever, most fun, most appreciated food crafts that you can do with kids of all ages. These work for one-on-one time, school and group activities, when friends are over, for parties, for any time you are with kids.
1. You can’t go wrong with good old cookie decorating. Naturally, we do a lot of cookie decorating in my house. When my daughter couldn’t even reach the counter, she was learning how to roll out dough and use cookie cutters. For tips on decorating cookies with a lot of kids, and for tips on dealing with kids’ food allergies, click HERE. Here’s another post I did about decorating cookies with my daughter’s class. You’ll also find more tips on hosting a cookie decorating party HERE.
1. Go crazy with food coloring pens and marshmallows and cookies. The food coloring pen is one of the best inventions ever. As soon as my daughter could hold a pen, I set her up with marshmallows and food coloring pens. Check out her work (and the how-tos for drawing on marshmallows) when she was four. For my niece’s 8th birthday, I decorated cookie canvases, let them dry overnight, and packaged the cookies with food coloring pens as party favors. Find the how-tos for art canvas cookies HERE. I used this same idea of giving a kid cookies with the background pre-decorated as a Father’s Day gift when my daughter was a wee lass of two. Find kid’s cookie art HERE. Now, I will warn you: Food coloring pens can stain!! Not just your good couch, but hands and tongues. My daughter is oddly neat n’ clean for a child her age, so I didn’t realize this could be a problem until I handed black food coloring pens to my nieces. Eventually, it did come off their hands and mouths, though. For lots of information on where to find and what to buy in the world of food coloring pens, click HERE.
3. Candy melt lollipops are great for last minute ideas. This is a must-do with kids. All you need to do is fill disposable decorating bags with candy melts, microwave according to the package directions to melt, tie closed with a rubber band, snip the tip, and (after the bags cool to touch!!) let kids pipe designs on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Add sprinkles and sticks if you want. I’ve done this with my daughter year after year. I keep all these supplies on hand so when friends or cousins come over, we often make candy melt lollipops. Here are Valentine’s versions, with how-tos, for candy pops. (I’ve also made monsters, Christmas trees, Shamrocks, and many other designs with this method.)
4. Or, make candy lollipops from Jolly Ranchers. This is another one of those super-easy, last minute crafts for a rainy afternoon, and these have been some of the most popular posts on my blog and reprinted in magazines (and, um, copied quite often on a more than a few blogs with no link to yours truly, but I digress). Simply unwrap some candies, arrange on a tray, (this is where the kids-help part ends), bake on low heat and immediately add a stick. Find the original how-tos for Jolly Rancher pops HERE. Find some updated designs, with how-tos, HERE. You can also use Life Savers® Candy to make flower pops HERE.
5. Make funny veggie faces. This was one of the funnest and simplest activities I’ve done with a bunch of kids. I gave the kids in my daughter’s class tortillas and bowls full of cheese shapes and veggies, and they went to town designing their own funny faces. Find the how-tos and tips to make funny food veggie faces HERE.
6. Make fruit pops. The same day I led the funny food face activity, we also made fruit pops. Simply cut out melon with cookie cutters and insert lollipop sticks. Note that the lollipop sticks can get soggy if you do this too far in advance, so eat them right away, or just insert the sticks right before serving.
7. Make pizza pops. One of my most popular posts, intended for adults but with the side effect of pleasing kids, kids can also help to make these. Cut out the pops, insert the sticks, and let the kids add the toppings. Find the how-tos for pizza pops HERE.