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Math in the Kitchen for Young Children

Kitchen math doesn’t have to be used only with older children.  Even very young children can work on math concepts in the kitchen.

working on fractions in the kitchen1. Work on one-to-one correspondence by having them pick out how many items to get if each person at the meal needs one of something (such as a spoon).  A higher skill would to work on needing to give two to each person and so on.

2. Introduce the concept of fractions by having children cut or break things into two pieces, and then label that for them as “halves.”  You can then work on breaking things into fourths.

3. Make simple recipes together, such as a fruit salad, where you can count the items added into it.

4. Number recognition can be worked on with number shaped cookie cutters and a batch of sugar cookie dough.

Math in the Kitchen for Older Children

When children have moved beyond the simplest of kitchen tasks, it can be time to work on other types of kitchen math.

1. Prepare a favorite family recipe (with help).  For more complex math, baking can sometimes be preferable to cooking, as baking usually needs exact measurements.

2. Double or halve a recipe for students working on  fractions.  For their ease (and the safety of the recipe), it would be best to print out the recipe and have your children do all the math to either double or halve the recipe before working on actually preparing the recipe.

3. Work on metric measurements by using a recipe that was written by someone outside of the United States.  Many of those are in metric amounts, which can be great practice for an authentic experience (outside of science) for using metric.  (As a further step, if you are studying a foreign language from a country that uses the metric system, consider working on a recipe in that language.)

4. Practice division and fractions when serving food.  For example, ask children how many pierogies each of the five people in your family can have if there are 15 available.

5. Convert units.  How many pints in a gallon?  How many ounces are in a cup?  These are the types of things that regularly are done on worksheets and then forgotten.  In the kitchen, children will have a hands on chance to work on these concepts.

6. Create a budget.  Budgeting can be an extremely important kitchen skill.  While this doesn’t typically happen right in the kitchen, it greatly affects what goes on in the kitchen.  This is an amazing way to work on money (and food choices) in a very authentic way.