Saturday, 30 November 2013

Advent baking - a cause to practice creativity

Today at home we have baked Swedish Lucia buns and Pepparkakor - as we always do on the first advent weekend. This time though I decedied to challenge the children when we baked pepparkakor and not bring out the cookie cutters - saying we can use them next time (as no doubt we will be baking again before Christmas arrives).

Within 10 seconds one of my daughters looked up and said she wanted the cookie cutters - it was no good - they didn't look nice. I insisted that this time we would try without - it didn't matter about making mistakes - with dough its just to roll and start again - or accept the shapes that we have.

It IS a little scary to leave the safety of the cookie cutters - it was not just the case of being able to produce the shape they wanted BUT also to think up the shape in the first place. I suddenly realised how the cookie cutters took away their opportunity to work out for themselves which shapes they wanted to make, were Christmassy and were possible to form in the dough.

There was a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you could create a fantastic shape but not get it onto the baking tray whole (but that can happen with the forms made from cookie cutters too - but it was so much more frustrating when it was a hape you hade created yourself - it takes more time).

There was so much learning - the shapes that worked, the thickness that worked - how we could inspire each other - as one made a Christmas tree so they all did - as one started making letter so they all tried...

And by the time the dough was almost finished it was so much easier to come up with ideas and to make them - it was no longer quite so scary. Sometimes we have to take the plunge and try something that makes us feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning. This daring to try the unknown is an important part of the creative process - and it was so obvious to me watching my children today that exposing them to a situation where they had to use their own imagination and skills to create shapes was daunting at first but became more fun as they were able to see and believe in their own comptency.

How do you practice creativity?

making Lucia Buns has always invited the children to use their own imagination - yes, we make traditonal shapes - but then snakes, hot-dogs, snails etc start popping up - this year the girls were very interested in plaiting the dough to create shapes.
the ready Lucia buns tempting our senses as we finish off making the pepparkakor forms - oh and a glass of bubbles is never wrong!

cutting out the dough with a knife
the finished pepparkakor - hearts stars, tree, moon, letters, snowman, man and angel - the square is going to be a picture - as we will ice them tomorrow!

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