Cooking and Math – How Baking Cookies With Your Kids Can Be Educational and Fun

One of the biggest complaints about school, especially as children get older, has to do with relevancy. Learning always means more if you can relate a lesson to something that children love to do. So begin your Baking Cookies Lesson by taking a “field” trip to the grocery store for the ingredients you will need.

Now parents, do not cheat. Box or bag mixes don’t count. Let your child play mad scientist by mixing up the contents one by one. Review the list of ingredients with your child before going to the store. Have him or her move through the kitchen and see if they can pick out all the ingredients and place them on the table. Is there anything missing? Let them make the list and practice their writing or printing skills.

Is there enough of everything to make the amount of cookies in the recipe? Now comes the fun. You can have a small lesson in measurements. They can see that half a cup is smaller than a cup. Can they guess how many cups of flour are in your container or in a flour bag? If your child is older, you can take this opportunity to show him a little division. For example, a five-pound bag of flour contains 80 ounces (16 ounces per pound). But a cup only has 8 ounces in it. So how many cups are in a five-pound bag? There are 10 cups or eighty ounces divided by 8 ounces per cup.

If the child isn’t old enough, you might be able to use a visual by asking if he or she thinks there are at least 2 cups in the bag. You could also challenge them by suggesting making a larger batch and freezing part of the dough. If you double (multiply by 2) the recipe, how much of each ingredient would you need? In this way you can allow them to see the importance of mathematics.

Once you are at the grocery store there are unlimited ways to use math. Figuring out proportions is one of the most important mathematical lessons that will serve your children throughout their lives. Is it cheaper per ounce to buy a two-pound bag of chocolate chips or two bags containing just one pound each? (Don’t use flour as an example, since children are much more interested in getting the most chocolate for their money.)

Show them how to convert different measurements to something they have in common. In this example, take the price of a two-pound bag of chocolate chips and divide it by two. What is the cost per pound? How does that compare to the cost of the one-pound bag? For younger children not yet doing multiplication or division, you can buy two different sizes and weigh them using a scale. Remind them of the different prices and then let them “discover” which price gave them more for their money.

Many stores do the comparison math for you, so all you have to do is look at the price per pound. However, you might notice that some prices are by the ounce and some are by the pound. Does your child know how to convert to a common measurement? Since there are 16 ounces in a pound, divide cost per pound by 16 and then compare the prices now that both are measured in ounces. Not only will this make mathematics more relevant, but your child may also get excited about getting the best deal for your money. That kind of knowledge is priceless when it comes to figuring out the costs of college, clothes, books, etc. and conveys to your child the true value of money and how to spend it wisely.

Once the cookies are baked, try to figure out the cost of each cookie based on the cost of each ingredient in the dough. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at that container of raw dough or those packaged cookies and do a price comparison of your own. So, is it worth baking those cookies from scratch? Compare that cost or savings to the time spent with your child.