Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preschool Activities: Painted Sugar Cookies

by Deborah Pace Rowley

I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of dying Easter Eggs. (Does that make me a bad mother?) The real problem is that I don’t like hard-boiled eggs. And eggs that have been died a greenish purple color and have been hidden in the dirt in our backyard are in a category all their own. Sugar cookies on the other hand!! I love this activity any time of year but Easter time is the perfect time to “paint” some egg-shaped sugar cookies.
First, buy some cheap paint brushes. It is best to do this activity with paint brushes that haven’t been used with real paint. Then make or buy some sugar cookie dough. I have included my favorite sugar cookie recipe below if you are looking for a good one. (Thanks Karen!)

Next, roll out the sugar cookie dough and cut it with an egg-shaped cookie cutter. You can just use a knife and create your own oval shapes if you don’t have the correctly shaped cookie cutter. DO NOT COOK THE DOUGH. Set the uncooked cookies on pieces of waxed paper around the table. In the center of the table set out bowls of “paint”. The paint is made with egg whites mixed with a little bit of water. This is to thin the goopy egg whites to a paintable consistency. Then it is dyed with food coloring. I dyed one bowl blue, one green, one orange, one yellow and one red. (The yellow and orange ended up indistinguishable once they were painted on the cookie so I think next time I will try some purple.) Set out some paper towels and some small bowls of water for washing the brushes.
Last, have the kids put on paint shirts or aprons and let the fun begin. IMPORTANT NOTE: Remind your kids not to eat the cookie dough or the egg whites before they are cooked.
Learning about patterns is an important part of readiness for math so I had the big kids paint patterns on their eggs for the little ones to copy. That was such a big hit that soon the little kids wanted to paint patterns for the big kids to copy. After passing our patterns around for a while, we turned the kids loose to create their own artistic creations.
When you have finished painting your cookie eggs, sprinkle the top with sugar. 
Transfer them to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. With the sprinkling of sugar, the cookies are delicious without any added frosting. You wouldn’t want the frosting to cover up the art! I love how easy it is to put the unfrosted cookies in lunches and to stack and store them for future snacking. Trust me, it is much easier to get rid of all these decorated eggs than it is to find uses for the real hard-boiled ones!

Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
4 Tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Blend wet ingredients well then add in dry ingredients. Chill the dough for at least one hour in the fridge or dough will be too soft to work with. Roll out the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour and cut into shapes as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.
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