As parents, we know that weekends can be hectic so we hope that you were able to take advantage of the many pizza deals this past Saturday in honor of National Pizza Day to give you a break from cooking. We at BTBL love the idea of pizza as both an enjoyable meal to prepare with children as well as a fun learning experience.
As a meal, you really can’t go wrong with pizza. Pizza allows for so many crust options to choose from as well as seemingly endless toppings so you can please even the pickiest of eaters and sneak in some healthy veggies. Pizza is also fun to prepare and all ages can participate by kneading the dough or placing toppings. The best part is that pizza can be turned into a learning experience without it seeming like a lesson.
We love the whole dough experience when we make pizza though you could opt for a quicker easier crust (which is great for lunches) such as prepared dough, a pre-made crust, naan, lawash or pita bread, flour tortillas, English muffins, bagels or anything else that can be turned into a crust.
If you too want the full dough experience, you can use our favorite basic dough recipe or any other you like. We choose not to use a mixer, enjoying instead mixing it by hand. Do what works best for you.
Basic Dough – If you need dough, here you go!
This dough be used for rolls, pizza or even cinnamon rolls. Alter to suit your needs and taste even adding garlic or other spices for a more savory crust.
1 cup milk or water
1/3 cup butter or oil
2 packets yeast
1/4 cup sugar (optional for pizza crust)
1 ½ tsps. salt
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (for a chewier crust use bread flour)
Proof yeast in a small bowl by dissolving it in 1 tsp. sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until frothy. Place milk and butter in a sauce pan and heat until butter is melted. Do not boil. Let cool. In a large bowl combine the milk and butter, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Add the flour and knead until well incorporated. Add additional flour if needed and knead until dough is no longer sticky and is soft and smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place, for approximately 1 hour. When dough is ready, punch down and roll out on a floured surface to desired shape and size and top with marinara sauce or oil, then various cheeses, meats and vegetables to suit individual taste. Bake in a 400° oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until done.
Include your child when making dough, to measure and count the cups of flour. For more dough, double the recipe, which can be a great math lesson as well. Kneading the dough is also a wonderful tactile experience. For the littlest ones, give them a bit of their own dough to work. My three-year-old loves to play with dough, but will work it until it is so stiff that it really can’t be used for baking anymore, though it was a good hands-on experience and kept her happy and busy.
Math, especially fractions, ratios, and percentages can be discussed as you cut and consume your pizza. Cut the pizza into the requisite number of pieces and as it gets eaten, you can ask how much of the pizza has been consumed etc. or for the younger ones keep it simple and just ask how many pieces have been eaten and how many are now left. You can make it as simple or complex as you wish. There are many lessons on-line using pizza to teach math. Look for what is appropriate for your child’s age.
Baking a pizza is not required for learning but instead make pizzas with your child from paper plates, construction paper, felt or other materials. Don’t forget the toppings! After enjoying our pizza lunch we got busy making pizzas out of paper plates that became a puzzle and number activity. My daughter colored two paper plates to resemble pizzas. Next we drew lines on the paper plates to create slices. One plate we left intact and the other we cut. Then we added numbers to the slices of both plates that corresponded to each other, so my daughter was able to practice her numbers by matching the cut slices to the spaces on the whole pizza. We also traced ten circles onto a red piece of construction paper to make pepperonis, cut them out and numbered each one for another way to practice number recognition and counting.
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The pizza fun continued on when my daughter got out her felt pizza set and set up her own pizzeria in her play kitchen. She would take my order, make up the pizza and then deliver it to me. Upon delivery she would inform me how much the pizza cost and I would pay her with the felt money from her set, thus turning the game into a mini lesson on money as well.
When all the baking and play was done we wound down our day by snuggling up and sharing a pizza story. We enjoyed Pizza Party! by Grace Maccarone (a story from my own childhood) and The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges, but there are so many delectable pizza picture books to choose from. Below we have put together a list of some of our personal favorites.
Pizza...such a simple and delicious meal that inspired an entire day of screen-free play, hands-on experiences and bonding! We were even able to make cinnamon rolls in the evening with the dough that was leftover after making three personal sized pizzas.
Happy baking and reading!
-Kate @ BTBL
We are three generations that seek a way to get back to basics. It’s not that we eschew technology, but sometimes simpler is better especially in raising our children. Mom was a reading teacher, Amanda is an early childhood educator and Kate a children’s literature specialist and former school librarian along with the latest editions, a daughter for Kate (now 3) and a son for Amanda (now 1.) We advocate reading aloud, the simple toys that use imagination and encourage creativity and learning in the kitchen, which can be a fun mess but also teaches life skills. Join us in raising healthy, happy, inquisitive and intelligent children.
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.