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Preschooler pizza party

Got a hungry horde and want a quick way to feed 'em? This pre-fab pizza party will please even the pickiest preschooler, and it's tons of fun, to boot! When the little ones participate in the preparation, they're much more likely to eat the results. Even parents will enjoy creating their own masterpieces!

Shopping list:
While prepared ingredients such as pre-shredded cheese cut down on the prep time, they also cost more. If you're not pressed for time, you can grate your own cheese and make your own pizza dough and sauce to shave dollars off the grocery bill.

For a party of four kids and four adults, you'll need:

  • Eight Boboli pizza shells (the small size; they come in two-packs)
  • One large Boboli pizza shell (for extras)
  • Three 8-oz. packs pre-shredded cheese (we use mozzarella and one cheddar for variety; pizza blends are also available)
  • Two 16-oz. squeeze bottles of pizza sauce
  • Toppings (pepperoni, sliced onions, green peppers, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.)

To balance out the meal, you can prepare a simple green or fruit salad, or apple slices for the kids. Brownies for dessert work well, too.

Pre-party preparation (20 minutes):
Select a work area with plenty of elbowroom, such as the kitchen table. Put a pizza shell at each place, and set out the pizza sauce squeeze bottles and bowls of cheese and toppings. Also have small spatulas or spoons on hand to spread the sauce.

Procedure (20 minutes):
When everyone's ready to get creative, preheat the oven according to the Boboli package directions. After everyone's washed their hands and chosen a seat, give brief instructions - the best thing about this project is it's pretty self-explanatory! Parents will want to be on-hand, not only to design their own pizzas, but to help with the squeeze bottles and to make sure one pizza doesn't end up with all the pepperoni.

After the pizzas are done, place them in the oven on foil-covered cookie sheets and bake according to package directions (about 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted). While the pizzas are baking, send the kids off to play games or color their own placemats.

Meanwhile, use the extra ingredients to make an "extra" pizza with the large shell, and then do a quick tidy (the bowls, foil on the cookie sheets and squeeze bottles all make for easy clean-up).

Extra credit:
Make pizzas according to a theme, such as "self-portrait" or "nature." Then take a Polaroid picture of each child with his or her pizza.

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