Showing posts with label sugar cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sugar cookies. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kandinsky-ish Color Study Sugar Cookies

Another activity on the children's science themed, library summer reading list was to "experiment with mixing colors".   I thought at first I'd just have them jot down a quick description of one of the countless color mixing activities we've done in the past.  But then, I decided to go for it, and plunge full force into a lesson on abstract art.

We've been having a lot of fun with abstract art already this summer by way of scribble pictures, and circle coloring, and such.  And, it just so happens that the father of the movement, Wassily Kandinsky, is especially famous for his "Color Studies" - not just mixing one color with another to make a new color, but placing colors side by side in different patterns to find pleasing combinations of color.

And, since it's been a while since we've done a really big, afternoon encompassing, cookie project it seemed only natural to start with a batch of sugar cookie dough (recipe and baking instruction - here), divided into quarters...

...then colored (with about a half a bottle of food coloring each) 1/4 red, 1/4 blue, and 1/4 yellow, with 1/4 left plain.

I divided the dough up, and gave some of each color to the children... tear off, and squish together to form blobs of new color, large enough to form into...

...quarter inch thick, one and a half inch squares, using a paper square for a guide.  I thought at first, they would roll the dough out, and cut around the paper squares with a butter knife.  But, it turned out to be easier to just pat the dough down by had, and form it into squares with their fingers.

When they each had a number of different colored squares created, they cut them in half...

...then into uneven fourths, by cutting off the corners...

...and finally into six pieces diagonally... they could pull them apart and rearrange them on the cookie sheet... a manner similar to...

...Kandinsky's "Color Studies" (thumbnail photo from

They each made one Kandinsky-ish cookie, and then I let them free form whatever they wanted with the left-over scraps of dough.  My younger girls started blobbing circles together, to make flowers.

When I commented that their flowers looked a lot like Kandinsky's Concentric Circle color studies...

...they decided to leave off the stems, and use up the dough making more of the same.  Which in the end, made for a large number of color combinations to enjoy for a snack.  It's often said that Kandinsky could hear colors...

...we prefer to taste them.

Additional Resources we used:

Clips from YouTube:

"This Is Color: The Study of Light" a 1950's educational documentary.

Art Lessons for Kids: Kandinsky Color Study

Wassily Kandinsky Short Biography student production.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), paintings put to music.


Sticker Art Shapes: Wassily Kandinsky by Sylvie Delpech

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Fun 2014 - Making Mosaic Minecraft Creeper Cookies

I've been wanting to do some kind of cookie mosaic project with the children, since Phyllis at All Things Beautiful, posted a very inspiring mosaic round-up, back in May.   This morning, I finally got around to mixing up a batch of sugar cookie dough (click here for the recipe), and started in on the tedious task of rolling, and cutting out the tiny tiles we would need.

Actually, it worked out quite well.  One of my girlfriends from Oregon called, and we chatted away, while I sipped coffee, rolled dough, cut squares, and baked up the cookies.  By the time I was all caught up on the "news" from home, I had a batch of cookie tiles cooling on the counter.

With a Minecraft theme in mind (because Minecraft lends itself nicely to mosaic patterns, and is something all the children are into), I set 1/3 of the batch of sugar cookie dough aside for 8cm x 8cm base cookies (made with this set aside dough, and the scraps left over from the mosaic tiles).  For the tiles, I added a tablespoon, or so, of dark cocoa powder to 1/6 of the rest of the dough, rolling it out about 1 cm thick, and using a pizza cutter to slice it into 1cm squares (more or less).

I added a drop of green food coloring to the remaining dough, rolled and cut out about 80 little squares (the small tiles baked for 10-12 minutes at 350° F, while the larger squares baked for 13 minutes at the same temperature).

For each 80 to 100 squares, I added another couple of drops of green food coloring, until I had a nice assortment of greens, and chocolatey black tiles to go with a blop of frosting, and a base cookie for each child.... frost and puzzle out...

...their own cookie mosaic...

...versions of a...

...a Minecraft creeper face.

The "tiles" weren't all even, so creating the patterns was a challenge, but...

...a fun, and tasty challenge.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Math Cookie Patchwork Heart

1/2 of a batch of sugar cookie dough...

One half - either of two equal or corresponding parts into which something is divided.

...rolled out and cut into an eight inch square...

Squarea two dimensional figure with four equal, straight sides, and four right angles.

...divided into sixteen, two inch squares...

Divided - separated into equal parts.

...cut in half diagonally to form thirty-two triangles...

Diagonally - moving in a straight line connecting two opposite corners of a polygon.
Polygon - a two dimensional figure with at least three straight sides.
Triangle - A three sided polygon.

...transferred to a greased baking sheet, and baked for thirteen minutes at 350° F...

350 degrees Fahrenheit - the unit of temperature used in the United States of America, equalling approximately 177 degrees Celsius.

...allowed to cool, and iced so that...

...3/8 of the triangles were glazed with white icing (no food coloring added), 5/16 with light pink (one drop of food coloring and one drop of strawberry extract added), and 5/16 with dark pink (two additional drops of red food coloring added)...

3/8 * 32 = 3/8 * 32/1 = (3 * 32)/(8 * 1) = 96/8 = 12 triangles
5/16 * 32 = 160/16 = 10 triangles

...arranged back into a 4 x 4 square, forming a heart shaped geometric pattern with the colored triangles...

Geometric - utilizing a pattern of simple shapes.

...and equalling a Happy Valentine's Day wish from Almost Unschoolers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frosting Equivalent Fractions - Cookie Math

I've been trying to help my younger girls (ages 9 and 7) get a firm grasp on the concept of equivalent fractions.

We've watched videos, colored worksheets, played games, and read fraction themed story books.  But in our house, a lesson never feels complete until the cookies are baked, and in this case - frosted.

So, once again, I found myself rolling out batches of chocolate, and vanilla sugar cookie dough made from our usual recipe.  A (age 12) helped me slice apart drinking glass sized circles of dough, piecing them back together on the baking sheet in pretty alternating patterns of chocolate and vanilla halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, and combinations of them all.

Once they were baked, I served up an assortment of the fraction cookies to the younger girls, along with bags of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry frosting, with instructions to frost half of each of their cookies with vanilla, a quarter with chocolate, and a quarter with strawberry.

They piped on the frosting, making it easier to get where they wanted it, then smoothed it out with butter knives when they were finished.

I left them to complete the project pretty much on their own, so they could work out for themselves how much of each cookie was a half or a quarter.  It wasn't long before I heard them counting out, and very naturally dividing up the chocolate, and vanilla wedges of each cookie in order to frost the appropriate portions.

It was tempting to jump in with a bunch of leading questions - "How many eighths did you have to cover up to make a quarter?" "Did you notice the eighth is half the quarter, and the quarter is half the half?" - and that sort of thing.  The girls were working so comfortably, and so unconsciously with the fractions though, I decided to let the activity stand alone for rumination, that will hopefully lead to an aha! moment on another day.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Cookies with the Teens

Most of the youth groups in town were canceled this weekend, for Christmas break - making Sunday afternoon seem like a good time for my oldest three (ages 12-16) to invite in a few friends for an impromptu Christmas "party". Meaning, we had managed to find a quarter hour to bake batch of sugar cookies, and the house was clean enough for a group of teens.

The kids came straight from their respective churches, so we fed them lunch, but kept it simple with a couple of frozen lasagnas, bread sticks, and salad.

I sent them off to entertain themselves, while I cleared and reset the table for cookie decorating with:

  • a plate of undecorated cookies (our normal recipe of 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 stick of salted butter softened, and 1 teaspoon vanilla was sufficient to make 28 normal size Christmas cookies, and 14 minis)
  • 1 large plate for each teen (or pre-teen) to work on
  • a triple batch of butter cream frosting (I totally cheated and used canned frosting) divided into bowls with a variety of colors added, and one batch  left white
  • extra bowls, spoons, and food coloring for mixing their own colors of frosting (and mix they did)
  • snack sized, resealable bags with scissors handy to snip corners for piping
  • a variety of candy sprinkles
  • every butter knife in the house, for spreading frosting
  • several piles of napkins
  • and a few damp dishrags on the ready.
The kids frosted, talked, laughed, and ate a LOT of frosting.  Some took their decorating very seriously. Others glopped on some frosting, and called it good.  But, they all seemed to enjoy themselves.

When they were satisfied with their work, I shooed them back to their video games, cleared away the mess (which, being used to decorating with younger children - was not too bad at all).  I moved their masterpieces onto paper plates, so they could munch on a few, and wrap up their leftovers to take home.  All that was left was to join the Man of the House, sequestered in our room watching Christmas movies with the younger children, slipping out every once in while, to offer hot chocolate, eggnog, a glass of milk, or a board game/puzzle suggestion to teens wandering through the kitchen for a bite of cookie.

Before we knew it, the afternoon was over, and parents were picking up their teens for dinner.  I suppose by next year, they'll be driving themselves, and might be too cool for cookies and hot chocolate...but I hope not.

It's great to be homeschooler.

Friday, August 30, 2013

9 Piece Square Puzzle Cookies

Gearing up for "school", we've been playing with a number of geometry/logic/spacial reasoning puzzles, like Thinkfun's IZZI© puzzle shown below.

In fact, that particular puzzle was the inspiration for yet another cookie project.  Staring at the black and white squares, I just couldn't help but be reminded of chocolate and vanilla cookie dough, and finally couldn't resist baking up a couple of cookie puzzles to add to the game table.

The 64 black and white IZZI tiles were a little more project than I wanted to take on just now (maybe this winter).  So, I settled instead for a 3x3 square style puzzle, like I've made out of cardboard for the children in the past.

Half a batch of sugar cookie dough (click here for the recipe) - with half left plain vanilla, and half with baker's cocoa added... enough for two puzzles rolled 1/4 inch thick...

...and cut to be 4 and 1/2'' square.

Transfer the cut squares onto a large, greased cookie sheet, and then score the dough to divide each square into 9, 1 and 1/2'' squares.

Use tiny cookie cutters, or cut geometric shapes out of each square with a butter knife, crossing the scored lines in a pattern (so below the bears are all cut in half at the arms in the middle of squares, and the hearts are divided into quarters by the corners of the squares).

Pop the cut shapes out, and swap them with pieces of the alternate dough cut from the other square, or from the leftover scraps.

Finish cutting the small squares apart along the scored lines.  Spread them out on the pan, using a ruler to double check they are all still 1 and 1/2'' square.

Bake the cookies for 13 minutes at 350°F.  Allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan.  Serve the scrambled puzzle on a plate...

...and challenge children... solve the puzzle (with clean hands, of course)...

...before eating the cookies.

There might be more than one solution too, which is okay, as long as each of the small squares matches up on all sides with the sides of all the other squares it is touching.

It's great to be a homeschooler.