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Learn Maths while Baking

Improving math skills through baking. Get your kid to cook and bake with you in the kitchen and use it as a teaching tool. Baking is full of important math skills and with these easy ideas you can incorporate learning into cookies and cake! From addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions to conversions, shapes, telling time, doubling a recipe and more, these easy math ideas through baking are great for ALL ages!

One of the ways you use math every day is in the kitchen. Reading recipes and baking and cooking are full of important math concepts. If you’re baking with your kids then you can also use it as a math lesson (and science and reading!) for kids of all ages.

Colors and Shapes

These activities are suitable for young children and help them in identify shapes and colors. For example:

  • Shape of baked products (cookies are circles, brownies are squares, etc)
  • Shapes of various objects (oranges are spheres, a box of crackers is a rectangular prism, shapes of cookie cutters)
  • Changing one shape into another (cutting a square brownie into triangles)
  • Colors and dimensions (2D vs 3D)

Counting

Young kids could be introduced to counting in a kitchen. For example:

  • Count the number of cookies in a batch
  • Count the number of ingredients needed for a recipe
  • Counting the number of marshmallows in a cup
  • Count the number of crackers in a pie crust

Weights and Measures

Baking is an exact science and accurate measurements play a key role in the final outcome. A pinch or this thrown here and there in a sauce may work just fine but not in baking. The age of the child will be a crucial to decide how much of weighing and measuring you can teach. It is never too early to get them in the kitchen and introducing them to the idea. Conversions, etc can be included as they grow older.

Pre-School and Before

  • Make them use measuring spoons and cups.
  • Learn numbers – whole and fractions.
  • Introduce them to ounces, pounds, grams if you are using a weighing scale.

Early Primary Classes

  • Introduce weights and measures in simple terms
  • Estimating weight of ingredients
  • Talk about which measurement is appropriate (would I use grams or kilogram to measure a bag of flour or what is appropriate to measure vanilla extract cups or teaspoons)

Late Primary Classes (From Class 3 onwards)

  • Reading recipes
  • Converting one measurement to another – say teaspoons to tablespoons etc
  • Converting from metric to U.S. measurements and vice versa
  • Comparing various weights and measures
  • Discuss measuring differences between cups and ounces/grams/ml (have different people measure 1/2 cup flour and weight each of them – are they the same or different? Why?)
  • Performing arithmetic operations (adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing)
  • Doubling recipes / Halving recipes – more later in the post
  • Also a good time to introduce °F vs °C and converting between them

Time

Time is critical in baking. The moment a child learns how to tell time, they can reinforce this learning in the kitchen

Pre-School and Before

  • Telling time
  • Comparing clocks
  • Counting backwards (using the timer on the oven).

Early Primary Classes (They are reading clocks at this stage)

  • Reinforce telling time
  • Change in time (i.e. it’s 1:30 now and the cookies will be done in 10 minutes, what time will it be?)

Late Primary Classes (From Class 3 onwards)

  • Stop and start times
  • Calculating times (Addition and Subtraction)
  • Changes in times (i.e. if this cake takes 70 minutes to bake and 2 hours to cool what time should I put it in the oven by if I have to leave the house at 5:00?)

Fractions

Fractions is another extremely importance arithmetic concept used extensively in baking. Weights and measures of various ingredients deal in whole and/or fractional parts. From just choosing the right measuring cup to comparing the sizes and then later, doubling and converting, fractions are a huge part of Maths and Baking.

Pre-School and Before

  • Introduce fractions of ingredients (i.e. break up a baking chocolate bar and talk about simple fractions one-half, one-third and one-fourth),
  • Compare sizes of measuring spoons and cups

Early Primary Classes

  • Equal parts of different measures like ounces/grams/ml etc (have different people measure 1/2 cup flour and weight each of them – are they the same or different?
  • Explaining fractions in terms of cup and teaspoon measurements and how they relate to each other
  • Comparing fractions (compare half cup and three-fourths cup of chocolate chips)

Late Primary Classes (From Class 3 onwards)

  • At this stage they are learning – fractions – converting to decimals, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Some ideas which can be used are
  • Doubling or halving recipes (see below)
  • Converting fractions of ingredients to decimals (the recipe calls for 2 1/3 cup flour, how much is that in a decimal)
  • Comparing fractions of ingredients between recipes (i.e. the chocolate chip cookie recipe has 1/2 cup brown sugar but the oatmeal cookie recipe has a full cup), etc.

Doubling Recipes

Doubling recipes is easy and most recipes do work when doubled. Math concepts kids can learn when doubling a recipe:

  • Doubling fractions and reducing them to measurable ingredients (i.e. doubling 2 tablespoons makes 4, which is 1/4 cup).
  • Doubling fractions can be done by adding fractions or multiplying by 2, depending on what your child is learning in school.
  • Converting fractions (if you double 3/4 cup by adding fractions you get 6/4, which you must convert to 1 1/2 to measure it out)
  • Reducing fractions (if you double 1/4 you get 2/4 which must be reduced to 1/2 so you can measure it using a measuring cup)

Halving a Recipe

Cutting a recipe in half is harder than doubling, because some ingredients can’d be halved (like eggs). When cutting a recipe in half, look for one that has an even number of eggs so that it will divide easily. What kids can learn about math from halving a recipe:

  • Dividing fractions
  • Changing the pan size
  • Converting and reducing fractions

Learning Science and Reading When Baking

Math isn’t the only thing kids will learn when baking and cooking. There are opportunities for science and reading as well!

Reading – comes into play when just reading a recipe. It’s important to read the recipe before you start cooking, and there are nuances to recipes that mean different things, which is an important thing to learn.

Science – Two main things that come to mind relating to science and baking are: baking soda and yeast. Teaching a child about leavening a recipe with baking soda, interaction with vinegar in a banana bread recipe can teach them about scientific reactions. Learn about baking soda vs baking powder through which plenty of science can be taught.

Some Resources

Kitchen Maths Workbook

Baking Math Worksheet

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