Even a rainy Independence Day can’t take the fun out of this project, and if it’s a beautiful day and you’ve got a barbecue to go to—well, here’s your potluck dish! This cookie cake is more elaborate than our other two 4th-of-July-themed craft projects, but if you’re crunched on time or have very small helpers, you can do the baking yourself and let the kids simply focus on decorating their delicious map of America.
You will need:
- Cookie dough, any flavor. I’m using this M&M cookie cake recipe (with chocolate chips instead of M&Ms because I’m boring) from Cookie Madness. Making the dough from scratch will allow you to make it just the way you’d like, but to save the time and energy, two tubes of cookie dough will work just as well.
- Large map of the USA. You can print out nearly custom-sized outline maps of the USA for free from Owl & Mouse. Wait to print it and cut it out until you’ve rolled out your cookie dough.
- A sharp knife.
- Fun decorations. Consider decorations that will let your kids represent geographic features as well as mark places that are meaningful to them—Hershey’s Kisses for the Appalachian Mountains, a gummy bear to mark last year’s vacation at Yellowstone, etc. Add a batch of your favorite frosting to make it all stick.
- Prepare the cookie dough. Roll cold cookie dough out, then pat it into a large rectangle on top of a non-stick baking mat or sheet of parchment paper placed on a baking pan. Follow your recipe’s instructions for the thickness of this dough, although you’re going to be watching it carefully while it’s in the oven, so don’t worry if you have to wing it somewhat.
- Bake the cookie dough. Use the recipe’s oven temperature, but you’ll simply have to keep an eye on the cookie cake while it’s cooking. Look for the cookie cake to be set in the middle and browned around the edges; if the edges get too browned, don’t worry, because you’ll probably be trimming those off, and if not, well, that’s what frosting is for!
- Prepare the map. While the cookie cake is baking, use its dimensions to print off the correct map from Owl & Mouse. The map itself will be a little smaller than the dimensions of the pages that it’s printed on. After you’ve printed the map, assemble it, tape the pages together, and then cut it out.
- Cut your cookie cake to size. As soon as the cookie cake is hot out of the oven, set the paper map template on top of it, and use a very sharp knife to cut the cake to size.
- Decorate the cookie map. After the cookie cake has completely cooled, frost it and put those kids to work! Of course it’s possible to just decorate the map playfully, but this is a great time to pull out an atlas and talk about US geography. What are the kids interested in? Would they like to frost the outline of all 48 states (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii!), and put a Red Hot at every capital? Would they like to make a road map out of Pull-and-Peel Twizzlers to show the way to a grandparent’s house? Perhaps they want to mark all the major rivers in blue M&Ms!
U.S. geography has never been so delicious!
Looking for more fun, kid-friendly craft projects to keep little hands busy during the holiday? Check out our other Fourth of July ideas.
Julie Finn is a writer, crafter, and homeschooling momma who loves science experiments, messy art and dessert. She blogs about her hands-on life over at craftknife.blogspot.com and craftingagreenworld.com.