Grandparents Teach, Too: Tea partying with grandkids

What is better than scones and adults’ attention? Grandparents can help young children learn table manners, the art of conversation, and feel comfortable using them during an English tea. Invite some friends, stuffed animals, and a few action figures who need little culture to save the world.

Table decorating

Children can decorate placemats made from two pieces of computer paper or one large construction paper. Napkins can be paper towels, paper napkins, or cloths. Children decorate small table name cards, roll napkins and tie with an old sparkly necklace. Flowers or a low plant in the center of the table is a nice touch.

For setting, use real utensils and china. Google images has diagrams for formal and informal tea correct party table setting. You can teach children to set the table correctly and how and when to use each utensil. Explain and practice how to use silverware, plates, place the napkin on their lap, hold a teacup, butter a scone, and replace items when finished. Refresh how to ask for food, pass to the right, and keep elbows off the table.

A day before, purchase some blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and ingredients for scones. Pick up some lemonade, apple juice or some orange herbal tea that is friendly to children’s palates.

Baking scones

Basic scones require 4 1/2 sifted white flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoon sugar, pinch of salt, 2 sticks of chilled butter cut into small pieces, 1 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, 1 egg and 1/4 cup light cream. Sift dry ingredients and place in short, wide blender. Put in small chunks of chilled butter and run a few times until looks like coarse meal.

Add heavy cream until dough holds together. Leave little chunks of butter. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. Spray large baking sheets. Roll into circle 1/2-inch thick for small scones (makes 30) or 3/4-inch thick for large ones, (makes 20). Cut out with a large jar top or cut into triangles like a bakery shop. Combine egg and light cream in small bowl. Brush tops and bake at 375 degrees 13-15 minutes. Provide whipped butter and jam at the table.

While waiting for the scones to bake, dress up a bit and talk about how a daily tea time in England is a time to relax, enjoy good food slowly, and talk. Grandparents can help children think of who, what do you think about, when, where, why, and how questions to take turns starting conversation. Explain how to listen to answers respectfully and keep the conversation going with follow-up questions and comments. Put on some soft music and it’s time for tea at 3 p.m.

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