Please Help W/cookie Decorating Project For 1St Graders!

Baking By SugarFiend Updated 20 Dec 2010 , 9:39am by pattycakesnj

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SugarFiend Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 9:48pm
post #1 of 26

I've agreed to organize a cookie decorating project for my son's first grade class of 23 and need help! Cookies are totally not my forte.

My apologies also, because I know I've seen threads about this sort of thing in the past, but couldn't find them for the life of me... icon_confused.gif

The general plan is for me to bring in cutout sugar cookies for the little ones to decorate. And supervise the whole thing, of course. I'll probably make all one design of cookie - likely a Christmas tree shape. Has anyone done this for an entire classroom of children? Does anyone have any tips? (like what is a workable number of children to have in a group?!)

I was planning on pre-filling little ziploc bags with buttercream (one for each child, or maybe two different colors?), and then snipping off the corner for them to pipe, but I can't decide if I should put down a smooth layer of buttercream for them first...? Then they could decorate however they choose, using their bags of icing and assorted sprinkles and candies.

I do have concerns about the zippers from the ziplocs interfering with them piping, too. So I'm also considering just buying a pack of the little Wilton disposable bags. I'd have to twist-tie the tops of the bags off to avoid icing squirting out the top if I go that route. But I dunno... ???

Also - does anyone have any input as to how NFSC is with margarine instead of butter? One of the children in the class needs to avoid dairy, including butter.

The teacher is leaving a lot of this up to me, so I'm hoping for some input from someone who's done this. I have so many questions already. Any and all tips would be welcomed, because I'm sure there's plenty I haven't thought of yet.

Thanks in advance! icon_smile.gif

25 replies
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ranae5463 Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 10:13pm
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Wow - I don't know about the dairy issue, but doing the trees with a base of green and then letting the kids "trim" the trees to their liking sounds like fun and also include some jimmies or sugars, etc. I saw a thread the other day about classroom decorating, but I think it was for 9th graders or something like that and I think the poster mentioned using baggies with just a couple of colors and snipping the corners just as you mentioned. Now 1st graders are completely different than 9th graders. Will there be other parents there assisting or a teacher's aides? That's a lot of young 'uns to help when it comes to icing and such.

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Sucrea Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 10:17pm
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I am a teacher and mother of 4 who has hosted many cookie, gingerbread house and cupcake decorating parties. In fact I am in charge of my kindergartener's Christmas party this year. For 1st graders I would suggest plain cookies (either tree or gingerbread man - I think that these let the kids be the most successful at decorating) all in the same shape ( no fights)! I wouldn't put a layer of frosting on since they will add plenty of their own! Ziplocks should work fine. I would make sure that your frosting is very thin so their little hands can squeeze the bags ok. Kids really like sprinkles. If you didn't want to go the whole baggie route, you could just let them frost and then sprinkle them! Either way they will have a good time! I would use 4 different colors and then have 4 kids in a group. They will be able to share the 4 colors without too much fussing. I think the biggest keys to a successful art project are good directions with pictures (for 1st graders) and a couple of examples. Good luck and have a great time!!

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SugarFiend Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 10:25pm
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There will be just one other parent there, I think. And yeah, if it was ninth graders, I wouldn't be nearly as concerned! But after having helped these little guys in small groups with foam gingerbread men and glitter glue today, I'm quite sure this cookie thing is going to be an adventure and a half.

It seemed simple when I committed to it, but then all the questions started coming to me. And now I can't find any of the threads I've seen on here, which I'm SURE answer some of my silly questions! icon_cry.gif

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SugarFiend Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 10:39pm
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Aha! Thank you, Sucrea - I might not have thought of thinner icng until it was too late. Just 4 decorating bags? I was a little concerned that they might find their way into little mouths, so I was going to do one or two bags per student. Would that be too much, and just asking for trouble?

Good point on pre-icing, too!

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mona1949 Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 10:58pm
post #6 of 26

I am hosting a cookie decorating party next Saturday at church for 35 kids and parents. I am making a dozen cookies for each person. I ordered clear plastic squeeze bottles to hold the frosting. I found a website where I ordered sprinkles and decoratings in 6 and 8 pound containers. The youngest is 1 year and the oldest will be in there 70's. Should be lots of fun. Planning a gingerbread house decorating for next year. Have fun with your party.

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FullHouse Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 2:40pm
post #7 of 26

If you are willing to go the Royal Icing route, you can put the icing in squeeze bottles ahead of time (Michaels sells a set of 18 in a carrying case).

If you want to use buttercream and are worried about the zip-locks, you can always heat seal the disposable decorating bags. I did cupcakes with my son's 3rd grade class and worked with groups of 7-8 kids at a time. That was very manageable for 8 years olds, I would suggest groups of 5-6 for 1st graders. Don't stress, we all had a great time. I did a little speech beforehand about washing their hands first and not licking fingers or utensils so no one would share germs. I let them know that if I saw them licking, they'd have to stop decorating and go wash their hands again. I only had to ask one or 2 kids to do that (both were boys, lol).

Have fun!!!

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SBaker Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 3:11pm
post #8 of 26

When I have done cookie decorating with small children, I have given them popsicle sticks to spread icing on their cookies. It is easy for them and it is easy to get rid of the stick and use another one if someone puts it in their mouth. For the sprinkles, I use the Baskin Robbins sample spoons and have them go back and forth putting on the sprinkles they want. That takes longer than a shaker and they don't put as much on their cookies.

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still_learning Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 3:54pm
post #9 of 26

I'm going to be doing a cookie decorating activity for my son's preschool class but these children are only two years old. I was thinking about pre-icing the cookies with RI so they will dry hard and the kids can just use edible markers and food coloring as paint to decorate. I was going to put holes in the cookies so they can string a ribbon through them and hang them as ornaments. Normally I use vodka with the food coloring to make edible paint - not so sure the teacher would like that idea too much! I'm hoping water will work as a substitute. To attach sugar and sprinkles I've found you can just paint on some water and then the sugar will stick. I don't think 2 year olds would do really well icing cookies themselves.

LOVE the idea of heat sealing the disposable bags. I never thought of trying that - another use for my Food Saver!

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kricket Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 3:55pm
post #10 of 26

I've done classroom cookie projects before and had success with this: Cover the sugar cookies with fondant (use same cookie cutter shape) then let the kids decorate with food markers. Easier, less mess, still fun and yummy. Of course, you have to teach the kids that your food markers are special and that they can't draw on their food with their markers at home!

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gingerbreadtogo Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 4:28pm
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I do lotsa cookies and gingerbread houses with kids. I would personally suggest (if not doing the marker route-which is a good idea) to get diposable pastry bags at Michaels. I have found little kids have trouble with the plastic bottles- hard to squeeze, and ziplocks- hard to manipulate. I agree with 4 kids at a time and sharing bags, otherwise you will waste alot of icing. When they come to table tell them rules no putting anything to mouth...I use Royal Icing and sprinkles, mini m & m's. Since it's gingerbread season, you might try gingerbread cookies, there a some reicpes without dairy. It's a great activity to do with Kids..I spend Nov and Dec doing kid parties and events...

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SugarFiend Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 7:25pm
post #12 of 26

Thank you all for your tips and suggestions!

The squeeze bottles sound like a great idea. It's very tempting... But after watching these little people with bottles of glitter glue...

I also LOVE the popsicle sticks and sample spoons ideas. Heat-sealing disposable decorating bags also sounds like a great idea, but I don't have a foodsaver. icon_sad.gif I'm hoping using twist-ties will suffice.

Good to know ziplocs are awkward for little ones. I suspected they might be, but wasn't sure. I'll definitely use disposable bags so I can avoid having a bunch of frustrated 6-year-olds. icon_rolleyes.gif

I'm still undecided on the number of bags though. On the one hand, I can see the convenience of each child having their own bag or two, especially if I just snip the end of the bag off as opposed to using a tip. It would make cleanup a breeze, I wouldn't have to worry about sharing germs, and I wouldn't have to wonder which wastebasket my bag with a tip landed in.

But on the other hand, there's something to be said for using a few different kinds of tips so that the kids can see what they can do with them. Maybe a large round for the green (like a Wilton 12?), and a star and maybe a smaller round (like a 3?) for the other colors? Do the kids even seem interested in what different tips will do?

Or maybe I could just give them each their own snipped, tipless bag of green and just use tips on a few different colors they could share...?

This is making me wonder if those silly decorating bag holders I've seen might actually be worth it in this case.

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gingerbreadtogo Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 10:08pm
post #13 of 26

Actually I use those silly bag holders to fill my disposable bags..very helpful when you are making alot of them. I use rubblerbands on end of bag. I don't use tips especially if they're that young (they don't care, they are just happy to decorate ) I just snip tip of bag when I get on site. Having thier own bag is more sanitary, even if they don't put in their mouth. if you're willing to spend time making that many bags, they really don't use as much icing or sprinkles as you think. I just did 2 weekend events 800 gingerbread men at each and I went thru maybe a lb of sprinkles ( I use 4 different types). I usually have a few cookies decorated so they can see what the possiblities are, some are shy to start-takes them awhile to get into it, others just pile on icing and call it a cookie icon_smile.gif

Have fun!

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rharris524 Posted 4 Dec 2010 , 3:38am
post #14 of 26

I've done this a few times with younger kids (3-4) and they had a hard time with piping anything other than a pile of icing. They did better and were happier with plastic knives and icing the cookies. Their favorite part was the sprinkles. I'd offer a few different sprinkle options and a few colors of icing...groups of 3-4 should work well

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SugarFiend Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 9:04pm
post #15 of 26

Thank you all again for your insights. As I was standing there contemplating filling all those little decorating bags, I was struck with what seems like a brilliant idea. LOL Silly... But: Instead of trying to carefully spoon icing into 48 little bags, I'm going to just slop as much icing as I can into one of my big bags with a big tip, and just PIPE it into the little bags.

AHA! YYYes! If I do this, I can be as sloppy as I want, flinging the icing into the big bag. Then I won't have little smears that will turn into little crunchies for the munchkins' little bags! And they won't have air pockets, either! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

This seemed like such a great idea to me. Yet I have to wonder, is this how people normally do this, and I was just slow to figure it out? I'm really curious. icon_rolleyes.gif

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atkin600 Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 9:21pm
post #16 of 26

I have made NFSC with margarine several times, and I actually liked them a little better than made with butter.

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mom2twogrlz Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 12:06am
post #17 of 26

I suggest using a popsicle stick and a few blob of various colors on a paper plate. That way they can use what they want. i have done cookie decorating at all our kids parties, and this seems to be the best, especially for that young. They will need a lot of help with the bags, unless the frosting is really thin, then you will have a mess as it runs all over the place. Kids really just like the sprinkles. They don't care about perfect lines like we do. Of the fun of childhood, when straight lines didn't matter.

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cookiemom51 Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 12:43am
post #18 of 26

Just FYI, don't assume margarine is dairy-free unless the ingredients list makes this clear. You may want to use a vegan margarine. You might also provide a paper plate and/or sandwich bag for the children who will want to take their creations home. Good luck!

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mcaulir Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 1:00am
post #19 of 26

If you work with 4-5 kids at once, you don't need to fill 48 bags at the beginning. Just fill them between groups, and if the last ones didn't go into mouths, just use the same bags the last group used. If you're planning to have all 24 kids decorating at once - you're nuts! icon_biggrin.gif

Squirting a big blob of green icing and covering it with sprinkles will take some kids 5 seconds if you're not supervising fairly closely to make sure that doesn't happen.

Also, I don't think there are many 5-year-olds who will care about different tips. They just want to put sweets on the cookie and eat them!

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Navyempress Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 1:42am
post #20 of 26

The craft section in Walmart has 4 piece sets of plastic tips so you don't have to worry about losing your metal ones. In case you want to go that route.

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Narie Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 1:58am
post #21 of 26

I vote for popsicle sticks to spread the frosting. Let them choose the color(s)of frosting they want to use . Forget decorator bags for this age group. Have them put sprinkles on over a cookie sheet (jelly roll pan). If you don't, there will be sprinkles everywhere. Also make them turn the cookie over before they take them away from the cookie sheet. You might want to have one decorator bag loaded with white frosting and a star tip. Then you can put a star at the top of their trees, or you can hold the bag while they squeeze a star out.

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Navyempress Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 2:15am
post #22 of 26

When we did Christmas cookies with my two toddlers (3 & 4), this past weekend, they used paint brushes. It's what I use most of the time, too. Chances are the kids have had some practice using brushes so it shouldn't be hard for them. I've never tried to paint with a popsicle stick. That's new to me.

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Narie Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 2:29am
post #23 of 26

Paint with a popsicle stick? No way, more like spreading peanut butter. Also do not give them red cinnamon candies. Unless you really want cookies with 10 to 15 cinnamon balls on them. With that age bracket more is always better.

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pattycakesnj Posted 15 Dec 2010 , 3:13am
post #24 of 26

I would not use tips either, just the disposable bags and snip the ends. 1 bag for each kid and I would cover the cookies ahead of time in RI.
Last year for 25 of my daughter's kindergarten class, I made 25 gingerbread houses and they decorated them. They had a great time and it wasn't that bad.
This year, for her 1 st grade class, I made 22 gingerbread boxes with lids. (Borrowed the idea from some I saw on Fancy Flours website.) I will cover them with fondant after gluing them together and this year, they will decorate with stamps dipped in food coloring. I bought a Christmas set of stamps at Michaels, cheap, and will also have some candies that they can glue on with RI. (The teacher has had them write down their dreams and wishes and those will go in the boxes.) HTH

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luv2bake6 Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 3:18am
post #25 of 26

do you have a pic of the gingerbread houses you did with the kindergarten class? that's a great idea to do with that age group! How long did it take you to make all those houses for them to decorate?

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pattycakesnj Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 9:39am
post #26 of 26

luv2bake6, I will have to look for a pic of the gingerbread houses but to make them went fairly quickly. I had a cookie cutter set for a small size house that I got at King Arthur flour co. I made batches of gingerbread dough (McCormack's recipe), cut out the pieces, put hard candy pieces in the window openings and baked. I cut out 6 inch squares of cardboard and set up each house and glued with RI and let dry for 2 days before they decorated.

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