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Self-Guided Family Play and Exploration: Spring Baking

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(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)


Course description

A pancake is made into the shape of a cat with strawberries for ears.

If you like blueberry pancakes or strawberry-rhubarb pie, May and June ought to be your favorite months! The type of wheat that’s used in cakes, pies, and other pastries made it through the cold winter and is now ready to be harvested. Blueberry and raspberry bushes are leafing out, and strawberry plants are producing their first crop. Rhubarb is picked, washed, and chopped for the pie plate.

Explore the grains that give us muffins, pizza, bread, and cupcakes, and sample the delicious flavors of spring, with these family activity suggestions from our early childhood team!


Explore and sort different types of grains that you can find in your cupboard. What do you notice about each one? What grains do you like the most in your breakfast? How about at dinner time?

A variety of grains are on a platter.


Design a creative picture and delicious snack all in one! Spread a thin layer of honey, peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter on a piece of toast. Then create your own edible masterpiece using some of your favorite cereals!

A piece of bread has cheerios, oatmeal and cornflakes on it.


The Little Red Hen, by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by J.P. Miller. Available in print and electronically. Making bread from scratch can be hard work, but also lots of fun! From planting the seeds to milling the grains, the Little Red Hen is hoping that the other animals will join in and help. But when everyone is too busy, will the Little Red Hen have to do all of the work by herself?

The cover of the book, Little Red Hen.

Pie in the Sky, by Lois Ehlert.

Do pies grow on trees? Enjoy this whimsical story about how plants change through the seasons to become favorite pie fillings! The pie recipe is included in the story for you to try in your own kitchen!

The cover of the book, Pie in the Sky.


Two ideas – one wet, one dry! Play with measuring cups and learn about volume, ratios, and liquid dynamics (this is best done over a sink or in the bathtub). How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? How many tablespoons are in a quarter of a cup? How much water does your favorite mug hold?

If you’d rather stay dry, try your hand at grinding seeds into flour. This works best with wheat berries, oats (especially “Scottish” oatmeal, but any oatmeal will work), rice grains, corn meal, and even dried legumes like split peas or garbanzo beans. You’ll just need a mortar and pestle (a bowl and wooden spoon may suffice for softer grains like oatmeal), and you’ll be able to incorporate your very own freshly-ground flour into your next batch of pancakes!

A mortar and pestle is being used to grind grains.

Dramatic Play

Make a pretend pizza for one or more of your friends (human or otherwise)! Gather some colorful things from around your house or from a walk in your neighborhood and use them as “toppings” on a pizza “crust.” What might your friends like best on their pizza?

Stuff animals sharing felt and flower pizza.

For Older Siblings

Get your chef’s hat on and try out this simple recipe for pancakes from The Morton Arboretum’s Children’s Garden! Don’t forget to decorate the pancakes with your favorite seasonal fruit! Bon appetit!














Self-Guided Family Play and Exploration: Spring Baking