It may be summer-time but anytime is a good time to “quietly” add in some math as you go about your usual kitchen activities. This doesn’t need to involve preparation or lots of materials. Instead think about the math skills your kids were learning at the end of the year and build on those. Or focus on practical kitchen skills – measuring, timing, and conversions. Here are a few strategies to get you started!
Three Strategies for Building Math Confidence — in the Kitchen!
Build mental math skills
While many kids are good at completing a math worksheet or written math problems, it’s harder to think through and answer them out loud as it requires mental math. So help your kids build their mental math skills by asking them a couple of questions while doing routine kitchen activities like putting away groceries or cooking dinner.
- Younger kids: Ask them to count how many items in the grocery bag are squares or rectangles, counting the number of different ingredients you will use in a dish, or having them identify which is the tallest or heaviest ingredient.
- Older kids: Ask them to solve math problems like “if I doubled the amount of cereal I bought and halved the amount of peaches, how much would that be?” Or have them read the number of ounces in a box of noodles and then determine how many cups that would make.
Make measuring a game
Fractions and equivalent measurements are hard concepts for many kids to grasp unless they can play around with it and “see” it in action. Luckily, you have all the materials in your kitchen for this! I recommend letting your kids play around with water or flour and not just the measuring cups and spoons so this one may get messy but it’s worth it. Have them explore how many halves or quarters make up a whole – younger kids can focus on what has “less” and “more”. Let them discover how many teaspoons it takes to get a tablespoon. They can then use our activity and recipe for doubling gingerbread french toast. For older kids, check out our activity on using ratios to make the perfect salad dressing.
Timing is key
We all know the importance of reading a recipe. But do you always stop to make sure you have the time to make the recipe? Have your kids help you figure out the length of time it will take to go through all the steps preparing the dish and then add in the cooking time. As a challenge. have them also estimate the time it will take to chop the ingredients or wash the dishes. Then use a stopwatch to have them check if they were right!
Remember not to over do this though – you don’t want to have them think they are back in math class. A couple of questions or a “kitchen challenge” is a great way to build it in naturally (think of it as a 5 mins math break). And most importantly, read your kid – if they are having fun, keep going. If they are struggling or starving then this is not the time to start to ask them how many ways they can use various measuring cups to get the measurement equal to one cup.