Ready to try something new in your homeschool? Try switching things up and using cookie cuttters to encourage learning. They make a fun manipulative!
If you’re like me, you don’t enjoy single use items. My cookie cutters were hanging out in the kitchen, lonely. I rarely make the kind of cookies you need to roll out. They’re kind of a once a year thing around here since they take so much time…
No, my cookie cutters weren’t getting used. They were just taking up space, and I considered donating them.
That is, until I realized that one of my children really enjoyed playing with them. Watching them gave me some ideas. We pulled the cookie cutters out of the kitchen, and brought them into our homeschool. The kids love using them as a learning tool!
Here are five different learning activities we use the fun cookie cutters for.
And please note – safety is important. If your cookie cutters are sharp, don’t let your kids play with them. Mine were just the plastic kind that didn’t have a sharp edge, like these:
1. Sort Cookie Cutters
Sorting is an essential math task. It helps kids learn to pay attention to detail, look for commonalities, and combine items that are similar.
We found lots of ways to sort cookie cutters. I had the kids sort them by:
- Material (we had a couple of rogue metal ones lying around)
- Holiday (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.)
- Shape (animals, nature, letters, vehicles, etc.)
I let each of the kids sort the pile. Once they had it sorted the way they wanted, the rest of us tried to guess how they’d grouped them. That added a fun critical thinking piece, since everyone had to explain why they did what they did.
2. Make Cookie Cutter Patterns
Patterns are another math skill. It’s fun to make patterns with cookie cutters!
The kids each selected a couple of cookie cutters, and used a pencil to trace a pattern onto paper. We had several types of patterns:
- AB patterns: Snowman, Turkey, Snowman, Turkey
- ABB patterns: Star, Tree, Tree, Star, Tree, Tree
- ABC patterns: Bat, Turkey, Tree, Bat, Turkey, Tree
This was a fun way to practice some of the harder patterning patterns. When we were done, the kids colored their patterns, which they enjoyed.
You can extend the learning with this activity several ways. Ask your kids to:
- Recreating patterns they like
- Try to guess which cookie cutters were used
- Cut out the shapes and rebuild the pattern by gluing it onto paper
- Creating a coordinating pattern
- Using the same shapes to build a different pattern
- Identifying what goes next in each pattern
There are so many fun ways to play with patterns. And while your kids are having a blast, they’re also learning a lot.
3. Use Cookie Cutters as Stencils
Our patterning activity lead naturally to some free drawing. The kids looked at their drawings from the pattern activity, and began adding backgrounds. Then they selected another cookie cutter to use as a stencil, and started over on a blank piece of paper.
They just put the cookie cutter on the paper, and traced around the inside. When they pulled off the cookie cutter, they had a great start to a picture. They added more cutters as desired, and colored everything.
We often use cookie cutters in our Family Writing Time, and this is a favorite way to spend this quiet work time.
If you are looking for a more structured activity instead of just having free draw, you can ask your kids to:
- Create a picture using a specific shape
- Draw a background that goes with the shape you trace for them
- Ask them to draw the shape without the stencil, studying it to get it as close as possible
- Trace the cutters with their eyes closed or with their non-dominant hand
- Guess what each other are drawing
But, remember that free drawing time is important. Your kids need a chance to grow their creativity!
4. Work on Fine Motor Skills
My son with Angelman Syndrome needs lots of practice with his fine motor skills. His playing with cookie cutters is what inspired all these activities in the first place!
I gave him a plastic gallon jar (I think it used to hold mayo) full of cookie cutters. He used his motor skills to empty the jar.
Sometimes he shook it, sometimes he reached in and grabbed.
Once they were all on the floor, I let him play with them for a while. But, I have to be careful because he’s now strong enough to break the plastic ones. I learned this the hard way.
Then we practiced putting them back in. That’s not nearly as fun as taking them out, but an essential fine motor skill.
My toddlers also enjoy practicing in and out. They can’t break the plastic cookie cutters, thankfully!
5. Do a Science Experiment
Since the cookie cutters had just spent some serious time on the floor, they needed a good washing before we put them away for the day.
As I filled up the sink, the kids threw them in. We watched, as some floated and some sank.
I had the kids make predictions for each one. Would it float or sink?
It didn’t take long for them to realize that the plastic ones floated. The metal ones sank. This lead to some great conversations about floating and sinking, and the kids went to find more items to test.
It was a fun hands on science lesson for younger kids!
Bonus Activity: Washing Practice
Since the cutters were in the sink, it was the perfect time to let my kids practice their skills at washing dishes by hand.
They took turns washing, drying, and putting away.
I got clean cutters to use next time, they got life skills practice!
Do You Use Cookie Cutters as a Learning Tool?
Are you ready to try some of these cookie cutter learning activities? I’d love to hear about your experiences! If you have another simple learning activity using cookie cutters, please share in the comments!