Kitchen Smarts! 10 Ways to Teach Math & Science While Cooking TDay Dinner
By Cheryl Flanders
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means that pretty soon you’re going to be in the kitchen a lot. This year, have your tyke help out—and give them a few math and science lessons while you’re at it!
Here are 10 ideas to teach while you make the feast:
1. Counting and Sorting
Do you need eight russet potatoes for Grandma’s mashed potatoes and four sweet potatoes for Auntie’s candied yams? When you’re at the store, have your child find, count, and sort them into separate bags (and check out more grocery store games).
2. Living Science
Plant a small herb garden for your preschool chef to tend to. They’ll beam with pride when they get to add their homegrown rosemary to the stuffing or chopped chives to the mashed potatoes.
3. Liquids and Solids
While your little helps you prep deviled eggs and pumpkin pie, take the opportunity to amaze them with the shapeshifter of food: eggs! Heat ‘em in water, they become solid. Crack ‘em into a bowl, they’re liquid. Toss ‘em in with a can of pumpkin…and they disappear!
4. Float and Sink
All you need are some food items and water for your little scientist to kick off some experimenting fun. Do russet potatoes sink in boiling water? Do sweet potatoes float? Does adding salt to boiling water cause eggs to float or sink?
5. Measuring and Fractions
The success of your great-grandma’s sausage stuffing depends on adding just the right amount of each ingredient—a perfect task for your mini foodie. They may not understand fractions yet, but finding and filling measuring cups will get them familiar with the basics—like understanding that half a cup is more than one quarter of a cup.
6. Shapes and Sizes
Is your little one on the younger side? Have them take a closer look at that fresh fruit salad you put together to practice identifying shapes and sizes. Which fruits are round? Is the blueberry smaller or larger than the orange?
Putting together that green bean casserole that everyone hates to love? Teach your helper about patterns by creatively layering the ingredients!
8. Chemical Reactions
Scientific magic happens when yeast is added to bread dough. You have to see it to believe it. Take a picture of the dough before and after it rises to document the transformation.
9. Cold and Hot
Even Jello® salad can have great learning potential. Show your child how it goes into the fridge a hot, runny liquid and comes out as a cold, jiggly solid!
10. Making Predictions
Strike up a guessing game to build your child’s critical-thinking skills. How long do they think the turkey will need to cook? When will the turkey thermometer pop up? What will the end result smell, look, and taste like when it comes out of the oven?
After your cooking fun, reward yourselves with the fruits of your labor—and pat yourself on the back for building your little one’s brain while putting together your T-Day vittles. Happy feasting and Happy Thanksgiving!