Social distancing due to the coronavirus has many families spending more time in the kitchen. It’s a great opportunity to combine cooking with education, especially if you’re working on school at home. Offering kids hands-on science and math lessons they can actually eat is a fun way to get them engaged in learning. Especially if it involves cookies!
These are some of the many ways you can teach math and science in the kitchen with kids:
1. Count Out Everything
Any time there’s a quantity to count, kids can help. You can count fruit and vegetables as you put them away from the store. When it’s time to cook, count how many of an item you need to meet the ingredients in the recipe. For example, how many potatoes do you need for your mashed potatoes recipe? Or how many cups of flour do you need to make bread?
2. Sort Your Ingredients
Make cookies or cupcakes with a candy topping, sorting out candies by color first (this can involve counting too). Another sorting task: Sort out dry and liquid ingredients from a recipe and explain why you should mix dry ingredients together before adding liquid.
Related Reading: 13 Boredom-Busting Edible Crafts to Make with Your Kids
3. Measure Fractions
Ask kids to comparatively look at measuring cups and tell you which one holds a greater amount. Discuss equivalents, too: If you just want to use a ¼ cup measuring cup, how can you use it to add ½ cup or even a full cup to your recipe?
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups, $7.50-$11.50 at Sur La Table
4. Examine the Parts of a Whole
When slicing whole fruits and vegetables, talk about how many slices make up the whole fruit. Are they all equal? How much is left if you take some away? If you’re slicing apples, talk about why apples turn brown after they’re sliced, too, and why lemon works to stop it.
5. Scale a Recipe
Need more or less of a recipe? Ask kids to help you do the math to double it or cut it in half. Start with something easy, like chocolate chip cookies.
6. Calculate Cost
Use math to understand the value of food. Go over the cost of ingredients that go into a meal you make together. Which foods offer the most flavor or nutrition for your money?
Related Reading: 8 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
7. Turn a Liquid into a Solid and Vice Versa
Hard boiled eggs offer an easy lesson to demonstrate how eggs can go from liquid (raw) to solid (boiled). Talk about how changing states can change how food tastes, too. Melt ice or butter to see how heat can turn solids into liquids, and freeze ice or other liquids to show how freezing temperatures can turn liquids solid. Explain how some matter can go back and forth between liquid and solid, such as water, but others can’t, such as eggs.
8. Play “Will It Float?”
Do an experiment to see which kitchen items will float and which ones will sink. Does adding salt or any other ingredients to the water change whether the item floats or sinks? Talk about how you can use floating to determine whether some ingredients are expired or not. For example, eggs that float to the top of a cold bowl of water are no longer fresh enough to eat.
9. Create a Sourdough Starter
Short on yeast? There’s always some in the air. Use flour and water to make your sourdough starter, checking on it and feeding it each day until it’s ready to use. Track how it develops, measure its volume as it grows, document its smell and appearance. When it’s ready, make bread and other items with it. Open up discussions of bacteria and how it can be used to create bread, yogurt, and more.
10. Study Crystals: Make Rock Candy
Rock candy is a sweet experiment to try at home. Use sugar, water, food coloring, a glass, and a stick to make your own colorful sugary crystals.
11. Plant a Garden
Planting a garden can offer many opportunities for math and science lessons. Count seeds, and see how many of them actually turn into plants. Explain how plants use water, soil, air, and sunlight to grow and feed your family. Make it an extended project, tracking what you’re doing to help plants grow, how they develop, and how long it takes to get from seed to plate.
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