Let Them Eat Pie!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving this past week! In celebration of one of my favorite holidays, I wanted to talk about a type of therapeutic activity that hasn’t been featured on this blog, until now. Cooking! Yay! Or should I say Yummy!!!

Believe it or not, cooking is a great therapeutic activity to do with kids, and it can be done in the hospital. Of course, depending on what types of appliances you have can limit what you can create. But I’ve done quite a few cooking activities at the hospital with just a microwave, or no heating at all.

Cooking has many great therapeutic benefits for kids, even when they are in the hospital. To start with, cooking is a very normalizing activity. It also gives control because participants get to choose how they cook something and what they do or do not put it in. Cooking is also a great way to encourage kids who are not eating to get excited about food again and make something they like. At the other end of the spectrum, kids who aren’t allowed to eat can find it therapeutic to make food and share it with others.

For today’s post we’ll also be talking about using cooking as an activity to brighten up a holiday. While being in the hospital can be hard, it is often even harder during a holiday. This is especially true when patients had fun plans to celebrate, but they must now be changed. Child Life Specialists work to support patients and their families during the holidays in many different ways including assisting families in celebrating. For Thanksgiving, what better way to celebrate than to cook?

One fun and very easy cooking activity for Thanksgiving is making pies. Now you might be wondering how in the world you make pies with families in the hospital, aren’t they hard enough to make at home? Well I’ve got some tricks for you that will make it as easy as… pie!

First start with a crust already in a pie tin. I found that mini gram cracker crusts are great for making single serving pies. They come in packs of 6 so you can have lots for you families. Next get a can of whatever pie filling you would like and scoop a serving into your pie crust. I’ve used cherry and apple pie filling, but you can also look for other flavors like pumpkin. But if you’re doing pumpkin, make sure it’s the pie filling that already been sweetened and not just plain pumpkin. Finally, make a simple pie crust dough or get a ready-made pie crust dough from the store. If you’re making the pie crust, you can do it by scratch or you can get a box where you just add water to create the dough. I like the latter, because it’s simple and participants can roll it out into shapes. You can skip the pie crust step if you like depending on the needs of your families, but I think that people like creating their own pie toppings.

When you’re done, stick it in the oven according to the directions for the pie crust and cook until golden brown! I made a bunch for Thanksgiving and got a bit creative on the designs. Here’s a picture of my fun!


Does this sound like something you would want to do with your patients and families? Do you have other fun activities you do on Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Mini Pie Activity Notes

Ages: 4 and up (with adult supervision)

Materials: Mini gram cracker pie tins, fruit pie fillings, pie crust, oven, rolling pin, cookie cutters, baking pans

Therapeutic Value:
Fine Motor Control

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