Sourdough is such a wonderful life lesson to teach to your children. And the best thing is, you can really start at any age! So let's teach your kids to make sourdough bread!
Seriously, even small children will enjoy being involved in the sourdough process and becoming young bakers, proficient at baking their own bread loaves from simple ingredients.
This is a guide on how to teach kids to make sourdough bread to encourage independent learning and family connection.
So how do you teach kids to make sourdough bread in a fun and engaging way?
In this article, I will show you:
- What skills kids gain from baking sourdough at home
- How to include kids of any age in sourdough baking at home
- How to share sourdough baking with their school or include it in their homeschool curriculum (including handy resources to share)
- Cool ideas for sourdough based activities for kids of any age
- How to create an exciting baking experience for kids of any age
- Best tips and how to bake sourdough bread recipe for kids to make alone or with parental help
And a little side note ... the photos in this blog are far from perfect because they are all real life, hands on photos of my kids in the kitchen, learning to bake sourdough bread! I've snapped quick photos of the in action, so some of them are a little dark or blurry (or featuring our puppy) ... but I wanted you to see the real life happenings of kids learning to bake sourdough in my kitchen!
What Skills Do Kids Get From Learning To Bake Sourdough Bread?
The process of learning to bake sourdough bread, or even just being involved in the process from a young age, will give your kids a myriad of skills that they can use throughout their childhood and adult life.
From patience to discipline, consistency to measuring and weighing, there are just so many things that your kids will gain from learning to bake sourdough bread.
- Patience (I think this is the most important!)
- Joy of baking from scratch
- Discipline of feeding something and sticking to a process
- Ability to follow instructions
- How to tell the time
- Powers of observation
- Flexibility and how to adapt to changing environments & different ingredients
- Measurement, weighing, using a digital kitchen scale
- Being organised
- Understanding where their food comes from
- Cleaning up (hopefully)
How To Involve Young Children in Sourdough Baking
If you would like to involve your kids in the sourdough baking process from a young age, there are lots of things you can do to get them comfortable being in the kitchen with you. Sharing age-old secrets of successful bread doesn't have to be boring!!
Sometimes, I just want to get the bread baked (and I use these sourdough tips for busy moms), but other times when I have a bit more time, I can involve the kids in the process with me.
Even when my kids were around 18 months old, they'd be in the kitchen with me. I love sharing fun facts about sourdough with them, even from very young. It's easy to make sourdough fun and accessible for kids of any age! And a great point of connection for the whole family.
Here are some ideas for involving kids as young as 18 months in the sourdough baking journey.
A little note - be prepared for some mess! Sourdough baking with kids can get messy ... but it's easily cleaned up (there are some cleaning tips here).
Up to 2 years - wear your baby or toddler in a baby carrier so they can observe the process. Once they can sit in a highchair they can sit next to you and you could give them some dough to play with (or taste safe play doh if that is safer for your bub). I often allowed my under 2s to sit on the counter while I shaped dough (but you will need to judge whether this is safe for your kiddos). My littlest babe loved sprinkling rice flour into the bannetons.
2-3 years old - Invest in a learning tower and allow them to stand at the counter with you. Show them how to measure ingredients and get them "shaping" their own piece of dough. If you don't want their hands in your dough, tear off a small piece for them to play with or use playdoh. Set up a "sourdough playdough" station with uncolored playdough. You could give them a few sourdough themed items to pretend with. A pop stick is a great "lame". A dough scraper can be fun too! Why not get some mini banneton to make it even more realistic!
4-6 years old - Get kids recognising numbers and learning to use a kitchen scale. Let them mix ingredients, start their own sourdough starter and even draw a "picture" recipe to help them learn how to make sourdough from start to finish.If you're not keen on having your little one actually help you with the sourdough at this young age, these activities can be done on the counter next to you or on the kitchen table while you're making sourdough bread. Little lessons now will create proficient and enthusiastic sourdough bakers in the future.
Sourdough As Your Child Grows Older
As your child grows, you can allow them to take responsibility for the feeding of the sourdough starter, measuring and mixing the ingredients, shaping the bread.
Let them guide you and show you what they are capable of. If you haven't made sourdough before, making the sourdough starter together is a great science experiment that can create a wonderful foundation to teaching your child to make sourdough. It brings microbiology and chemistry right to your kitchen counter!
These instructions are so easy to follow and lots of fun for your child to watch as they create an active starter with lots of bubbles.
Allow your child to explore measuring the ingredients and applying math principles. If they are particularly curious, perhaps a lesson in Baker's Math would be welcomed.
Middle school kids may enjoy learning the science behind sourdough and eventually taking on baking their own sourdough bread without assistance. There's so much science behind sourdough bread!
This sourdough glossary is a great starting point for older children.
Get them doing their own research into what makes sourdough so good for us, how a sourdough starter works and even the history of sourdough bread making.
Research skills are just as important as being able to make bread from scratch! We are talking real life lessons here and skills that will actually make a difference to their lives. Some sourdough topics that older kids could research include:
- how different flour types affect sourdough rise
- why you need to use active sourdough starter when baking sourdough bread
- how carbon dioxide affects sourdough bread
- how commercial yeast is different to sourdough starter
- where does the yeast in sourdough starter come from?
- what makes sourdough bread rise
- how to engineer strong starters for sourdough
- what gives sourdough bread a more sour taste
- look at what a cup of flour weighs and the difference between measuring with volume and weight.
Other sourdough experiments could include a trip to the grocery store to research different types of flours and the effects of these flours in your sourdough starter. Rye flour and all purpose flour are great for this.
You could even get them to see the effects of warm water on the starter as oppose to cold water or even whether organic flour has any effect on the starter and dough ferment.
Best Resources for Teaching Kids About Sourdough
If you would like to share your sourdough journey with your kids, these resources will help you engage your children with sourdough at any age. From picture books to more informative science based posts, there's sure to be something to suit your kids:
The Bread Pet - A Sourdough Story - this picture book will capture the attention of younger children and help you to explain the sourdough process in pictures. It's a great first book for little kids.
Suzie's Sourdough Circus - a hardcover book for 4 to 9 year old that includes recipes.
Sourdough For Science - this is a fantastic resource to teach kids the science behind sourdough and includes a downloadable teacher's guide and videos, as well as curriculum alignment. It would be great for homeschooling families too!
Sourdough Made Easy - This ebook (written by The Pantry Mama) is suitable for teaching older children/teenagers. It is easy to read and will give them everything they need to know to bake from start to finish.
Sourdough Show & Tell at School
If your child shows an interest in sourdough, it can be a wonderful experience for them to share sourdough with their school class.
My son asked if we could show his class how to make a sourdough starter so I organised a day with his teacher. My son told the class about the sourdough starter and how we make it. Everyone had a turn sniffing and stirring.
We also took in a few loaves of sourdough that we sliced up after the show and tell and shared with his class. They all chose what they wanted on it and then they shared what they liked about it (and what they didn't).
It was so much fun for my son and I to do it together and his classmates loved it too!
The teachers came back for seconds ... so it's safe to say it was loved by all!
Best Sourdough Recipes For Kids (with step by step instructions)
You'll find a recipe for simple, kid friendly sourdough here. It's an uncomplicated beginner’s guide to sourdough, perfect for curious kids. It's written to be accessible to people of all ages, including our younger generation.
But these delicious recipes are also really kid friendly and could be baked and enjoyed by the whole family!
- Making a Sourdough Starter
- Rustic Sourdough Bread
- Fluffy Sourdough Discard Pancakes
- Easiest Sourdough Discard Bread Ever
- No Wait Sourdough Waffles
- Bread Machine Sourdough Bread (from start to finish)
- Sourdough English Muffins
- Sourdough Chocolate Brownies
- Chocolate Chunk Sourdough Muffins
- Sourdough Pasta (this is so much fun to make with the kids!)
You might also like this collection of sourdough discard recipes to bake and enjoy with the entire family.
I also love making this homemade butter with my kids - they love shaking the mason jar!
Let's Teach Your Kids To Bake Sourdough Bread
I hope this resource is helpful in how to teach kids to make sourdough bread. It's a great jumping off point for you to plan some home learning lessons around the fascinating bread making process that is sourdough and bring sourdough culture of a whole new generation!
Good luck! You're going to have so much fun teaching the next generation of sourdough bakers!