Cooking up Stories: A Recipe for Literacy

Mar 24, 2024 | Articles, At Home Learning Tips, Just For Parents, Reading Tips

Cooking up Stories: A Recipe for Literacy

Nourishing Young Minds through Culinary Adventures

by Keara Holmes, Community Classroom tutor and reading specialist

As caregivers, we know that mealtime can be more than just about food- it’s an opportunity for learning and bonding. In this first post of our series on incorporating reading into everyday life, we’ll explore the magic that happens when we bring stories into the kitchen. This series is great for caregivers with elementary-aged students. Read to the end to get an awesome yeast roll recipe you can make with your children!

Activity: Cooking Together

Turn your kitchen into a reading haven! Choose a recipe for a dish your child loves and make it a joint venture. As you gather ingredients, encourage your child to read the recipe aloud to help with fluency. Discuss measurements, ingredients, and steps, which foster both literacy and kitchen skills.

Enhancing Reading:

  1. Vocabulary Expansion: Introduce new words related to cooking and food. Discuss the meaning and usage of terms like “saute,” “whisk,” and “simmer.”
  2. Sequencing Skills: Cooking involves following steps in a specific order. Help your child understand the importance of sequence by reading and executing each step together.
  3. Reading Comprehension: Ask questions about the recipe. What ingredients are needed? What do we do first? Such queries encourage active engagement and comprehension.
  4. Find a Book: Take all these skills and see if you can find them in a book. Literature books are a great way to further explore new vocabulary words, understand sequencing, as well as dive into reading comprehension-styled questions that can be asked from a book. You can visit your local library to find books or you can go to websites like GetEpic and create a digital library for free.

Yeast Roll Recipe: Soft and Fluffy Delights

I have been enjoying baking with my son in the kitchen. Even though he is not at the age where he can verbally respond to me, I know he is taking in all the new words as I say them aloud. Lately, I have been diving into baking. My family loves to eat bread, but most breads at the grocery store use bleached bread flour which we try to limit. This yeast roll recipe is so much fun to make and best of all, it’s easy if you use a bread machine. I hope after making these yeast rolls, you will enjoy them just as much as we do.


  • ¾ cup of room-temperature milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups of unbleached bread flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into four pieces)


  • Bread machine


Step 1: Set Up the bread machine

Place the bread machine on a clean, flat surface. Ensure that the mixing bowl is clean and dry.

Step 2: Add ingredients to the bread machine

  1. Pour ¾ cup of room-temperature milk into the bread machine.
  2. Crack one egg into the milk.
  3. Sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoon of salt over the egg and milk.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the mix.
  5. Pour in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract for a delightful flavor.
  6. Carefully measure and add 2 ¾ cups of unbleached bread flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour) to the mixture.
  7. Create a small well in the center of the flour, and add 1 ½ teaspoons of active dry yeast (be careful to only add the yeast to the flour and not any of the wet ingredients).

Step 3: Place butter in the corners

Take 1 tablespoon of butter and cut it into four pieces. Place each piece in one of the four corners of the bread machine pan. This will contribute to the richness and flavor of your yeast rolls.

Step 4: Set the bread machine

Close the lid of the bread machine and set it to the “Dough” or “Manual” setting, depending on your machine’s options. Ensure the machine is set for a “Dough” cycle, not a full baking cycle.

Step 5: Start the machine

Press the start button on your bread machine, and let it work its magic. The machine will mix, knead, and allow the dough to rise. This process typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

Step 6: Check the dough

After the cycle completes, open the bread machine and check the dough. It should have doubled in size.

Step 7: Shape the rolls

Remove the dough from the bread machine and place it on a floured surface. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle more flour on the dough. Divide the dough into equal portions and shape them into rolls.

Step 8: Let the dough rise

After shaping the rolls, place them into a buttered pan. Put a soft cloth on top of the pan and place it into an unheated oven with the light turned on to help the dough rise a second time. Let them rise for one hour.

Step 9: Bake

After the dough has finished rising for a second time, take the pan out of the oven. Pull off the cloth and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan in the oven and set the timer to about 18 minutes (this will vary depending on your oven).

Step 10: Enjoy!

Once baked, pull the pan out of the oven and coat the tops of the rolls with butter. You are guaranteed to enjoy these soft buttery yeast rolls!

Note: This recipe is designed for a bread machine, but you can adapt it for traditional hand-kneading if you prefer. Adjust the rise time accordingly.

In conclusion, cooking and baking provide more than just delicious meals; they create opportunities for joy, connection, and shared experiences. Engaging in culinary activities as a family fosters teamwork, communication, vocabulary and literacy enhancement, and the joy of creating something together. So grab your aprons, involve the whole family, and discover the delightful world of flavors, literacy, and togetherness that cooking and baking bring to your home. Happy cooking!


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