My children love using cookie cutters! My eight-year-old has a huge cookie cutter collection. Today I'm sharing some activities to do with children using cookie cutters. Most of these are suitable for toddlers and some are for older children too!
Cookie cutters are good for building hand strength, coordination and life skills. They can help build creativity within food preparation activities and art.
Above, we borrowed these heart shaped cookie cutters from our neighbour, they are adorable. They are perfect for stacking and sorting by size. My toddler (27 months) sorts them and then gets them out again over and over. It is early maths!
Some other ideas:
- Play Dough - Cut out shapes with play dough. I've found this the easiest for toddlers and it is a great medium to use to learn to use the cutters.
- Salt Dough or Clay Ornaments - Cut shapes out of the salt dough and bake to make ornaments. Make your own salt dough or use terracotta, natural or white clay. Like play dough, salt dough is another good medium for toddlers, it's a good texture for cutting.
- Beeswax Sheets - Cut shapes out of beeswax sheets for decorating beeswax candles, mini cutters would work best.
- Fruit or Vegetable Slices - Cut shapes out of watermelon, kiwi fruit, apple, carrots, cucumber and so much more. These can be used in lunch boxes, on a cheese or snack board or as a decorative feature in a salad, side dish or as a garnish.
- Cheese Slices - Cut shapes out of cheese slices for snack, for open sandwiches. Make sure someone eats the left over pieces!
- Bread or Toast - Cut shapes out of bread or toast to make fancy or mini sandwiches or perhaps croutons.
- Pastry - Cut shapes out of pastry for to decorate a pie, or spread with jam or pesto and bake for a snack.
- Pizza Dough - Cut shapes out of pizza dough to make mini pizzas, add some tomato paste, basil pesto and some cheese and bake in the oven, yum! This would be cute with simple shapes like a star, or even with circle cutters.
- Cookie Dough - Cut shapes from cookie dough to make cookies!! We like to make sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies.
- Alphabet Cookie Cutters - Use alphabet cookies on anything to build literacy, to develop letter and name recognition but also for writing messages!
- Use as a Stencil - Draw around the cookie cutter, perhaps colour it in or cut out the shape. We have some animal cookie cutters that could be used to make a scene or make part of a story.
- Use in a Sand Tray or with Kinetic Sand - For making imprints and shapes.
- Loose Parts play or in a Sensory / Discovery Basket - Put in a basket for the young child to play with and explore, generally the plastic type are best suited to this activity as they are not sharp.
- Painting - Dab them in paint for printing the outline shapes on paper.
- Matching Shapes - Draw the cookie cutter on paper or card and then have the child match the cookie cutter to the shape.
Tips for working with toddlers:
- Play Dough is a great place to start for toddlers as it is nice and soft and will stay together, there is no waste if it gets played with.
- Try to use at a child size table or in a position where the child can press or lean down and get some leverage on the cookie cutter, for the young child or toddler they may need their weight and strength to press down on the cookie cutter.
- When using cookie dough make sure the dough has been rested and used chilled. This will help it stay in shape when being used.
- Start with simple shapes like a circle, we are using a simple Christmas tree shapes this year. More complicated shapes like cut out snow flake or dinosaur cookie cutters are too complex for the toddler to use without parts (like arms or other long or thin parts) falling or being torn off.
- When making cookies we can use the cookie cutter and then take away the outside of the dough, so just the cut-out shape remains. We can then encourage the toddler to use a toddler size spatula (we use the OXO small spatula) to put under the cookie and transfer it to the baking tray. This way the cookie will keep it's shape.
While these aren't technically cookie cutters, you could use mini cookie cutters in the same way. These look great on a cheese or snack board for playdates. I can't wait for summer, we can make watermelon or papaya shapes! Here Otis (8yrs) has used cheese, apple, cucumber and strawberries.
Here Otto (27 months) is cutting out shapes from wholemeal pizza dough. It's stretchy so he has to press firmly. The metal cutters are better than the plastic ones with this dough. But the dough doesn't crumble or break and this a lot healthier than eating cookies! As they keep their shape it's easy for a toddler to pick it up with their fingers and put on the baking tray.
My children then spread tomato paste and a basil pesto over the pizza shape. They put grated cheese over some of the shapes and we bake them in the oven for only a few minutes.
These taste so good. While we have them as an afternoon snack they would be good for playdates.
Sugar cookies are a favourite at this time of year. I love The Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies from The Kitchn as it has cream cheese, they are still sugar cookies but they have some depth to them.
These Christmas tree shapes are good for a toddler. We also love to use the Gingerbread Cookie recipe at Taste. It's the same recipe we've been using for years.
This has been a hit and I wish I put it together sooner. I traced around the outside of the cookie cutters on the paper with a marker. I then present this with a basket of the cookie cutters for the toddler to match. He loves it!!
He works hard to put the cutters onto the paper precisely, so this is fantastic for his hand-eye coordination too.
When I made the same activity with six circle cookie cutters he was more interested. This is good work for visual perception.
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