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Kitchen Smarts! 10 Ways to Teach Math & Science While Cooking TDay Dinner

Photo by Maa Hoo / Stocksy United / 1416144
Photo by Maa Hoo / Stocksy United

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:

Photo by Maria Manco / Stocksy United / 899665
Photo by Maria Manco / Stocksy United

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?

Photo by Peter Meciar / Stocksy United / 854744
Photo by Peter Meciar / Stocksy United

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?

7. Patterns

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!

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