Math in the Kitchen with Applesauce

Friday, 05 October 2018

Math can be fun. There, I said it.

Honestly, I have always loved math. It’s clear-cut. The answer is either right or wrong, not subjective. I appreciate the methodical process of solving equations. I also love that math is everywhere. It’s in music, solving everyday sibling-dilemmas (sometimes this is harder than calculus!) and math is in cooking.

It’s wonderful to pique your child’s interest in cooking by preparing food with you. It gives them a better understanding of how breakfast/snack/snack/lunch/snack/dinner/snack/snack/ get on the table. It’s a great opportunity to spend time connecting with your cuties too. *Warning - It’s not clean or quick, but it can be a fun bonding experience. Just take a moment to let go of expectations beforehand and, at times, let your little one guide you!

Getting kids involved in food prep or cooking is a perfect way to introduce math concepts. While you’re following the steps on the recipe, you can discuss the differences in measuring cups, spoons and how they are divided up. Eg: Four ¼ cups in 1 cup, two ½ cups in 1 cup, etc.

Clara and I recently created a silly song for fractions while chopping apples for our applesauce.

“One whole apple and we cut it in half.

Two halves equal a whole.

Give each half another chop, chop,

Now we’ve got four quarters.”

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Sooo cheesy, but in my mind, the cheesier the better. (I’m all about the silliness.) We repeat it with each apple. So, she’s singing this jingle and helping me chop, over and over. It takes a good amount of apples for our applesauce. The repetition and rhythm help this concept of fractions really sink in.

Depending on the age of your children, here a few other suggestions:

  • Counting. Basic.  Count everything, all the time. And if you're introducing another language, repeat in Spanish, French, etc... If you've got small pieces of apple, nuts, beans, you can group them and count by twos, fives or tens.
  • Add and subtract. This is super-easy and works with well with apples or other solid ingredients. Basic addition and subtraction problems are easy to create with the visual and tactile prop.
  • Multiplication. Create simple multiplication problems - two sets of two or two sets of three apples is an easy way to begin. I show my kids how we have two sets of three apples, for example, then I say, two times three equals six. Boom, math!

Children learn in different ways, so allowing them to see, feel and move their math gives them the opporutnity to absorb the information in a way that works for them. 

Whether you decided to talk (or not talk) about math, it’s all good. Spending time with your kids and preparing anything – even Box-O-Mac-N-Cheese will be time well spent.

Remember, it will be messy, it will take much longer than cooking alone, but as it goes with motherhood, it will be worth it.

If you’re enjoying all the beautiful fall apples and want to make some homemade applesauce, give this simple recipe a try. If you’d like more kid-friendly recipes to play around with, check out Smashed Peas and Carrots. (not an ad, just love)

I hope this gives you a little confidence to have your kiddos in the kitchen with you as you teach them this life-skill. One day they’ll be adulting too. Having them learn basic cooking skills will set them up for better wellness practices in the future.  At least, that's my wish for them! I'm sure there will be plenty of frozen pizzas and ramen noodles in their college careers...

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