For an 8 Year Old Who Just Discovered Their Hands: Make a Pie!

One of the things that happened when my son was around 8.3 is he did many intricate things with his hands. He challenged me to a thumb war, he interlaced his fingers in unusual patterns, etc.

Why wouldn’t you hook each toy tire on each finger?

As is so typical of new development, this new skills came with some aggressive and odd behavior. He loved to cut apples–by stabbing them directly with a knife. I document this at the milestone at 8 years, 3 months.

To channel all this energy somewhere productive, you might bake a pie. I say pie specifically because of how many things they might do with their hands to make it. Here is a list of what my 8 year old did when we did it:

Hands-On Skills When Making an Apple Pie:

  • Peel an apple
  • Slice the apples with a mandolin
  • Zest a lime
  • Squeeze the juice out of a lemon or lime
  • Push the pie crust into the pan
  • Make slits on the top of the assembled pie
Creativity is being unleashed

This is not to mention all the other stuff that comes with baking: measuring dry ingredients, transferring food with tongs, etc.

You might have to be prepared to do some calm, patient mentoring. As noted, he wanted to stab apples with a knife. You might insist on the proper way to cut an apple, giving a strong demonstration to being with. I am unapologetic about this: we parents need to also be mentors in our children’s lives. Even though they can be defiant, distraught, and sensitive while we try.

But when you get over this little hump, should it be there, this is a great hands-on lesson. Zesting a lime:

Pushing the dough in:

And the final product. My daughter is much more into showing off what we do:

I used the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

See my book series Misbehavior is Growth in which I advocate leaning into children’s new emerging skills as the growth opportunities they are–even though it first starts as a child who wants to stab apples with knives.

Amber does age-related child developmental research. She documents the “stages” children go through. Send your friends to

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