<

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

Baking with Math: Valentine’s Day Cookies

Written by Amber Marie | February 12, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase. To read my full disclosure policy click here.

I LOVE BAKING! I could bake treats all day and not get tired of it. Pies, cookies, cakes, brownies, you name it, I bake it. I have instilled this love of baking in my sons (especially my oldest) as they love to help every time I pull out the mixer. Nothing makes me more happy to see the excitement on their faces when they get to take part in one of my passions.

Baking, however, is not an activity that lacks educational potential. Math is everywhere in cooking, especially baking. Think about how many recipes call for a cup, half cup or quarter cup of one or two ingredients. This allows for a perfect opportunity to introduce fraction basics. Learning about fractions doesn’t normally start until second grade, however, kindergarten and first graders learn some very basic concepts that help build a foundation for later fraction exploration. So let’s dive in and find out how we can do this!

The Lesson

With younger children, you won’t be focusing so much on the names of each fraction. Instead, you will reference fractions using the words “part(s)” and “whole”. You can introduce the names, however, don’t expect them to remember what they mean at this age. To help explain fractions, and later make the recipe, you will need measuring cups. The recipe only uses a ½ cup and a 1 cup so you won’t need any others unless you wish to work in some more advanced fraction practice (if your children are older, you can touch on equivalent fractions – i.e. ½ equals 2/4). Also, you will want some sort of food that is dry and can fill the cups such as rice, dry beans, or small pasta. We’ll get into the other ingredients and tools needed later when we get to the recipe.

To better illustrate the concept of part and whole use a real-life example such as pizza. This can help children visualize this relationship. Some tools you can use are a picture of a pizza that you can cut up, toys like this one or this one, or learning tools like these magnet pizza slices. Discuss how a whole pizza is one whole, but to eat it we cut it up into smaller parts (slices). You can take it further by talking about how many pieces make up a whole pizza and test out different scenarios (1 whole pizza split into 2 parts, 1 whole pizza split into 4 parts, etc).

If the pizza concept is too confusing, you could simply use a blank sheet of paper. Explain that the sheet is a whole sheet of paper. Then fold the paper in half and unfold it so they can see the crease (you can use a pencil to trace it if it’s difficult to see). Show them how after folding the paper, you have two parts that make up the whole paper.

Now it’s time to transition to the cups. Set out your two measuring cups (½ and 1) and a bowl of whatever dry ingredient you decided to use (we chose rice). Ask your children what they notice about the two cups in front of them. Let them explore by picking up and looking at them. If they don’t respond right away with any noticings, prompt with the following types of questions. The last one may be tricky depending on their age, but if you’ve baked with them before they may remember you saying it before.

Can you tell me about the sizes of the cups? (one’s smaller ones bigger)

Do you see any numbers on the cups? (1, 2)

What do we use these cups for? (measuring ingredients)

Introduce the two cups as measuring cups and explain that one cup is a whole and one cup is a part. Explain that the cup with a 1 and 2 on it (½) is called a fraction and represents a part of a whole cup, similar to the slices (or parts) of a whole pizza or paper. 

Tell them the “2” in the fraction tells them how many of that cup will make one whole cup (1 cup). To demonstrate this, let your children use the half cup to scoop rice out of the bowl and fill the one cup. Ask them to count how many small cups (½ cup) it takes to fill the big cup (1 cup). They should say it takes two small cups to fill the bigger cup. Tie this example back to parts and whole. The half cup is the part and it takes two parts to make the whole cup (1 cup).

To help them visualize further, you can use two wide-mouthed mason jars side by side along with a dry erase marker. Have your children use the one cup to fill one mason jar with water or your dry ingredient (whichever is easiest). Mark the height of the dry goods with the dry erase marker. Then have them use the half cup to fill the second mason jar, marking the jar each time you add a half cup (that way they can see both parts). Line the jars up next to each other and show your children how they are the same.

When teaching this lesson, keep your vocabulary simple (unless working with older children) and don’t try to over explain or complicate things. It may take a few times before they truly understand the concept, but that is part of the learning process. If you are more of a “follow-a-script” homeschooler, click the button at the bottom of this post to get my lesson plan with exact words to speak and directions on how to complete the lesson easy and quick. Now let’s move to the recipe.

The Recipe

This recipe is from Betty Crocker and has a few different ingredients and tools you’ll need to gather. While collecting everything, let your kids play with the measuring cups (add in a few more like a ¼ cup and ⅓ cup) and let them explore how many of each small cup it takes to fill the big cup.

Some of the ingredients in this recipe will be measured and added only by you, but there are a few ingredients that will use the measuring cups your children learned about today. You can also review counting with other ingredients like the eggs. If you’d like to take it further, you can introduce 1 teaspoon as a whole and ½ teaspoons as parts. These measurements are also present in the recipe and can enrich the fraction lesson. Below I will list the steps for completing the recipe on the left side of a table. On the right side, I will describe how you can further the math lesson with your children.

 

Ingredients

Cookies

Frosting

Tools


Rolling Pin

Cookie Cutters

(Valentines Shaped)


Measuring Cups and Spoons

Hand or Stand Mixer

Mixing Bowls

Cookie Sheets

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, the butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond extract, and egg until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured, cloth-covered surface, roll each half of dough 3/16 inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters, or cut around patterns traced from storybook illustrations. If cookies are to be hung as decorations, make a hole in each 1/4 inch from top with an end of a plastic straw. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat all frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired. Frost and decorate cookies as desired with frosting and colored sugars.

Teaching Points

In step one, you will encounter two mixed fractions. To keep it simple, split the ingredient into two groups. You can list the ingredient as 1 cup and a ½ cup.

Demonstrate this by having 1 measuring cup filled with powder sugar and a ½ measuring cup filled with powdered sugar. Set them side by side. Ask your child which cup represents the whole and which represents the part. This will help simplify the lesson to keep it focused on the basic fraction concept of part and whole. However, if working with older children (4th/5th), feel free to talk about mixed fractions in this part of the recipe.

You can reinforce this concept again with the flour. It helps if you have two 1 cup measuring cups, but if not you can explain that you will need to add another whole after adding one whole and one part to the recipe.

To review early elementary concepts such as counting, have your child(ren) count out how many eggs you need (have them read the recipe and look for the number).

You can further enrich basic fractions by showing a whole teaspoon and a half teaspoon. Demonstrate that it is similar to the 1 cup and ½ cup in that a ½ teaspoon is a part and a teaspoon is a whole. See if your children can remember how many parts (½ tsp) fills a whole (1 tsp).

There are many other math concepts you can introduce with baking these cookies, such as time (baking time), measurement (thickness of dough), and more. However, my suggestion to you is to keep it simple. Focus on introducing one concept each time you bake a cookie recipe. You can always review concepts you’ve already taught, but don’t introduce more than one skill in one lesson. It complicates the learning process.

One of the best parts of homeschooling is you can make learning authentic and what better way to introduce basic fractions than with shared memories of baking cookies! Stay tuned for more “Baking with Math” posts coming soon.

Want a more scripted lesson plan to introduce this concept? Do you want a picture recipe to help teach your children how to read ingredients and directions for baking? Download my lesson plan and picture recipe by clicking below!

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

Recent and Related Posts

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

I love being outdoors, especially during the beautiful season of summer. Summer is a time to make so many great memories from family trips to the beach, hot days at the pool, and eating ice cream and popsicles. One memory I’m excited to share with my oldest son is gardening. Our family enjoys growing our own vegetables and have picked a few different veggies to grow this year in our garden. My son was ecstatic when he got to pick a plant for him and his brother. We did some looking but it didn’t take long for him to spot the pictures of cherry tomatoes attached to the pots of some nearby plants.
Read More
Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Math can be a tricky subject to teach a child and can be even harder if you don’t know where to start. Take a look at what I have learned about teaching math to my kindergartner.
Read More
Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

If you have chosen to homeschool your children, and they are under the age of six, I’m sure you may have experienced the same anxiety I have on a particular issue. How do I teach my child to read? However, that fear subsided when I searched the web and found all the wonderful curriculums out there for homeschoolers. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I did a lot of research and even tried a curriculum out before using the curriculum I’m using now.
Read More
Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

There comes a time in almost every homeschooler’s life when they question the curriculum they are using with their children. That time arrived for me this year around February. If you read one of my earlier posts about the curriculum I chose to use this school year, you would know that I was loving All About Reading for my Language Arts program along with Living Education for Math. I also mentioned that I would be trying RightStart Math when I saved up and purchased the curriculum. Needless to say, as the title already indicates this, I completely changed everything. Check out my reasons why below and what curriculum I’m now using with my five-year old son.
Read More
5 Meaningful Ways to Plan Your Spring

5 Meaningful Ways to Plan Your Spring

With just a short time left until summer you want to make the last stretch of the spring season count. Since we are short on time I have made a list of that has 5 ways to plan your spring using books and activities that will make this season memorable. It will bring a smile on your face every time you can look back on the memories that you created with your children. A meaningful spring will yield a great education.
Read More
Discover the Wonders of Botany through Play

Discover the Wonders of Botany through Play

Spring is such a lovely time to get outside, go for a walk and simply enjoy being outside. It's good for the body, it's good for the mind and it's good for the soul.
Read More
Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

You create them, feel them, you transform them and invent some new species...Hours of fun for little fingers who like to manipulate and have an artistic touch. As a quiet activity or as a fun bounding time with mommy. Felt is one of my favorite material to use for creating educative activities for little ones
Read More
5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

I get a lot of funny looks when I say I homeschool my son. However, those facial expressions change quickly to surprise when I mention I am a former elementary school teacher. So many people ask me “why I would want to homeschool my kids rather than send them to public school” among other questions. Normally, I give a quick run down of some brief reasons then go on my merry way. But as I sat down to think about it more, I was able to flesh out 5 things I LOVE about homeschooling that I (or my son) would never be able to get in a public school setting.
Read More
The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

Spring time is a time of new beginnings, healing and growth. From reading the 'The Secret Garden' it is clear to me that F.H. Burnett understood the significant positive value to a child's mental, physical and educational health, when it comes to spending time outdoors with nature. This book is a calling to all parents and educators to let our children loose amongst the miracles of Spring and allow nature to nurture them just like it did for the three little children in this story.
Read More
We brought a Spring cooking class into our homeschool this week!

We brought a Spring cooking class into our homeschool this week!

My daughter and I were playing outside the other day.. We were having a blast and noticed we had TONS of dandelions in our yard.. What a bother those things are when they completely cover your yard! & they are almost impossible to get rid of. Dandelion So why not make lemonade out of lemons.. or rather dandelion jelly out of dandelion weeds? It is a very simple progress, but it does take about a full day!
Read More

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Follow on Instagram

Products I Love

How have you used baking to introduce math concepts in your homeschool? Have you introduced fractions in another “real-life” way to your children? Share below in the comments!

COMMENTS

4 Comments

  1. Kristen

    I love how you have the instructions for the baking side by side with tips for teaching. Great set up on your post.

    Reply
    • Amber Marie

      Thank you Kristen!

      Reply
  2. Randy H

    Great way to introduce math (fractions) with “real world” applications!

    Reply
    • Amber Marie

      Thank you Randy!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: