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Cooking and Baking as Learning Tools: Using Cooking and Baking to Teach Math, Science, and Cultural Lessons

The world is changing, as is how we educate our kids. In addition to an Olney preschool, a lot of learning occurs at home, and we are not talking about kids sitting at a table doing “schoolwork.” Your kitchen is a great area to introduce learning opportunities. There are numerous ways to use the kitchen to create an enjoyable and instructive experience, from basic math exercises and interactive scientific labs to cultural discovery and nutrition courses.

How is Math and Science Applied in Cooking and Baking?

You can quickly teach math or science while cooking and baking. One of the best ways to do this is to talk about measurements. For many younger children, changing ingredients from one unit to another can be a fun and memorable way to learn. Pick a recipe with mostly even-numbered items or amounts, and then have your child cut it in half. You have just worked on dividing. If you ask them to double it, you will have taught them how to multiply.

It’s easy to see solids, liquids, and vapors when making and baking different kinds of foods. There is science in every baking step, from steam rising from a hot muffin to butter melting into a liquid. You can show these to your child and talk about how water can go from solid to liquid to steam with just a little heat. It can also help reinforce things they had talked about at their preschool in Olney.

Girls watching their father whipping eggs

How to Teach Math Through Baking?

If this is your first time considering it, you may wonder how precisely math is used in baking. If you have ever followed a recipe before, you will realize that without math, it is practically impossible.

Converting Temperatures

Many older recipes or those not based in the United States tell you what to preheat your oven to using the Celius setting. If your oven is Fahrenheit, you must convert the Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit so that you know what to set it to.

Weight and Baking Times

Many recipes include cooking periods according to weight. This is particularly valid when preparing meats like pork tenderloins or whole birds for cooking. Even though the recipe calls for a certain weight, you will still need to adjust the cooking time according to how much your component weighs.

Decorating

When it comes time to decorate your baked products, your kids can use colored candies and fruits to construct designs, which will help them with their symmetry and sequencing abilities. You can also discuss the similarities and differences in the sizes and forms of your baked goodies. While decorating, younger assistants can also use this as an opportunity to practice counting and discussing colors and forms.

How Does Cooking Teach Science?

Chemistry is used in all cooking. When you heat, cool, or cut food, it changes what’s in it. Chemical processes change the color of an apple’s flesh even when cutting it in half. A chemical process occurs when you heat sugar to make syrup.

Baking is a lot like a science project because it uses physics, biology, and chemistry to explain how things work. Chemistry is when you mix different ingredients that can be eaten to make dough or batter that has tiny air bubbles inside it. Biology is because the yeast growth gives off carbon dioxide, which makes the bread rise. Science is because the trapped gases expand, which makes the bread rise.

little girl with her parents helping to cook in the kitchen

How Cooking and Baking Helps in Other Learning Areas

Adding baking and cooking to other subjects makes learning fun for your kids. For example, you can look into the history and cultural importance of recipes from different parts of the world or learn about how heat moves and chemicals react during the various cooking and baking processes.

Your kids can also work on their language arts by writing their own recipes or making up a story about baking. You can include social studies by looking into where the different baking methods and customs from around the world came from. You can include art by having your kids paint their baked goods with different types of icing or food coloring. When you connect baking to other subjects, you give your students a well-rounded learning experience that makes them curious and encourages them to love learning.

Encourage Creativity with Cooking and Baking

Your kids’ imaginations will grow, and their sense of beauty will improve if you let them use their imaginations in the kitchen. They can do anything, from arranging cupcakes to creating their own recipes. Think about how carefully your child pipes colorful frosting onto a cake, making patterns that are very specific to their style. By baking, they can express themselves visually and learn to appreciate how pretty it is when food is presented.

Teach Independence

As kids gain faith in their ability to make something from scratch, baking helps them become more independent. They learn how to follow directions, make choices, and be responsible for what they make. Because of this sense of achievement, they feel good about themselves and are more responsible.

While kids get better at cooking, they can move on to more challenging recipes and change them to suit their tastes. When they are free to try new things, they are more creative and can think outside the box.

Cooking and Baking as Learning Tools, Mother teaching her kids to cook in the kitchen.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how cooking and baking can help a child learn, it’s time to get serious and start making some tasty treats. Kids just starting out can learn the basics and gain confidence in the kitchen by starting with easy recipes. You can even ask the caregivers at your preschool in Olney, MD, if your kid can bring a snack to share.

However, before you start cooking or baking, you should have a place set aside just for cooking. Make sure your kitchen is clean and well-organized and that all of the tools and items you need are easy to get to. Making the baking area friendly and efficient will make the whole experience better for you and your young cooks.

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