I've blogged previously about ways to keep math fun for kids (following sports, building a lemonade stand). Today I'd like to share an idea that was suggested by Lara Ivey on Facebook. In response to one of my many Facebook posts on this topic, Lara suggested that cooking is a great activity for showing kids that math can be both fun and useful. I probably wouldn't have thought of this myself because, in truth, I'm not much of a cook. [The bible in our house is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, but we don't break it out very often.] But even the simplest of recipes offers the opportunity to practice math skills.
For example, my daughter got it into her head the other day that she wanted to make a Tang popsicle. She chose a plastic cup that she wanted to make it in, and jettisoned a long-expired sorbet popsicle to gain access to a popsicle stick. Then we got out the Tang canister and looked at the directions. One eight oz. serving required half a scoop.
- Easy math question: how many servings can you make with a full scoop?
- Harder: if a quart takes two scoops, how many servings is that?
- Bonus question: if two friends come over, how many scoops do we need for everyone to have one serving? What if we want everyone to have two servings?
This is useful stuff!
We always make a double batch when we make brownies. Plenty of math practice there, doubling all of the ingredients. Then we can decide how many rows and columns to cut if we want there to be a particular number of brownies to share. The opportunities are endless!
Do you use cooking time to help your kids build math skills? What other suggestions do you have for demonstrating that math is both essential and fun?