Just the week before, I'd pinned this clever idea for making skeletons from gingerbread man cookie shapes with the help of a little icing and thought it would be the perfect project to make together.
We have a giant box of cookie cutters (just like this), so the gingerbread cookie shapes weren't an issue. To keep things simple, I picked up a basic sugar cookie mix and tube of squeezable icing from the grocery store.
Mixing, rolling and cutting the dough was a perfect job for 5 1/2 year old Virginia. We also had fun digging through all the different shaped cookie cutters, deciding on which ones we'd actually use. We ended up making 2 separate pans — one for skeleton cookies (gingerbread men AND cat shapes), then another pan with letters that spelled out her name.
To make the cookies a little deeper in hue (so the icing bones would stand out), we added a couple heavy tablespoons of cocoa powder to the base sugar cookie mix. Virginia begged me to take a little taste of the cocoa powder and I tried to explain that in its raw form, she probably wouldn't like it. This turned into one of those "experience is the best lesson" scenarios and she crinkled her little nose at that first little "snitch" of the powder. Isn't it funny how we all seem to know from experience when it comes to some lessons, but understand deep down it will take the same experience for the next generation to learn the same lesson?
Once the cookies were ready, we let them completely cool before adding the icing so it wouldn't make a melty mess all over the place. Baking the cookies before dinner and allowing them to cool throughout dinner made for the perfect "dessert activity."
With a couple cross hatches, a little blob for the head, arms and legs later — we were shaping up just fine. And let me tell you, there were no complaints in the taste testing department!