Recipe Equations

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Posted on Aug 21 2013 - 1:00am by Jill
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Recipe Equations

Today is Day 3 in the How Do I Teach…Series and as you might be able to tell, math is not my favorite subject.  Today I will discuss how I use baking (one of my passions) and the family chore of shopping to spice up math and make it more fun for Beck and Elizabeth since math is not in the top 10 of my favorite subjects.

I love baking.  I have always had a passion for baking, especially over the holidays.  When I am baking I sometimes feeling like I have been shifted into a fairy tale land like in the movies where   I can hear the birds singing and feel like dancing at times while I put ingredients together to make my delectable treats.  I enjoy cooking and baking so much I almost totally forget that a recipe is just like a math equation.  The recipe gives all the factors that you need to solve the equation and get the reward at the end of a tasty treat.  I know that Elizabeth likes to help me bake so I have taken to having her help me get ingredients together and I turn my love of baking into a math lesson without even thinking about.

To help illustrate this alternative math teaching method, let’s take a quick look at one of my favorite breakfast muffin recipes.  I have discussed pumpkin muffins before and found my favorite recipe for Pumpkin Muffins at the Homeschool Den. After making this recipe for years now, I modified it a little to make it a little more basic, but in general I follow that recipe.  So, how is that making pumpkin muffins could be a math lesson?

The first thing you should notice about a recipe is that it not only has ingredients, but it also has quantities.  Each item has its own unique quantity that is needed or else the recipe will not come out correctly. This is exactly like a math problem.  Each item is almost always listed in different forms and in different units.  Take a look at the ingredients that are needed to use to make pumpkin muffins:

Recipe Equations

Each ingredient is like a factor of the problem and the mixing bowl is your work space.  The first thing you add to your bowl is eggs.  So you need to read the math equation, the recipe, and see that there are 4 eggs.  Elizabeth loves to count the eggs and crack them for me.  So, she counted out the number of eggs and I always try to ask her a few quick questions like how many eggs are left now?  How many more do we need to make a dozen? Etc.  Once the eggs are in it is time to add the sugar, so I put out the measuring spoons and let her pick which one she wants to use.

Recipe Equations

This time she picked the one-half cup.  So, I asked her how many scoops she would need to add to the bowl to make 3 cups and once she had the right answer we added them together.  For the smaller baking items I did the same thing, but this time I purposely did not include the full tea and tablespoons so that she had to pick a smaller unit and use more of it.  This way I am trying to teach her in a hands-on way about baking measurements.

Recipe Equations

So, with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon added it was time to move onto the fluid measurements.  I tend to do this in different ways, but this time I used addition and helped Elizabeth pour 2/3rds of a cup of oil into a measuring cup like this:

Recipe Equations

Then I helped her add 2/3rds of a cup of water on top of the oil in the measuring cup like this:

Recipe Equations

Adding the two liquids together would not hurt this recipe and it was a neat way to show her first hand that 2/3rds of a cup plus 2/3rds of a cup is the same as 1 1/3rd cups of a liquid.  She thought it was cool and also liked the bubbly pattern the liquids made when they mixed too (but that is chemistry and not math). Then it was time to add the pumpkin and flour, mix it up, and bake them. The smell was nice as Elizabeth and I then cleaned up the tools that we used and as a last little math exercise I had her organize the measuring spoons and cups and stack them largest to smallest quantity and reviewed with her the different types of baking and cooking measurements too.  Lastly it was time to let them cool and be ready to eat tomorrow morning:

Recipe Equations

Now, I hope that you can see that even though I do not like math I do need to use it when I am baking and cooking.  Since I do like to bake and cook it also means that I need to use my math skills to determine how much of things I need to put on our shopping list so that when we do our monthly meal planning and shopping lists we can get enough for the month.  We do our shopping monthly because we live very rural and it can take a while to just get into town, let alone do shopping and get home at a decent time.  To help with this I have developed a variety of math themes shopping lessons and activities over the years for Beck and Elizabeth to do.  One of these is my Shopping Lesson Pack.

Shopping Lesson Pack

In my Shopping Lesson Pack we go over as a family what our budget is for the trip and then list out the items that we need to get while out shopping based on our meals that are planned.  We give Beck and Elizabeth about a page worth of items from the list for them to track while we shop.  They both estimate how much things will cost and add them up to get their own budget estimate.  Then my husband and I compare it to our estimate and head out to shop.  My husband has explained in the past his mother would always shop with one hand full of coupons and the other on a calculator, but we do not go to that extreme.  As we shop we have the children write down the costs and quantities of items on their lists so that they can add it up when we get home and compare it to their estimate.  And since this is all real world math it can be fun too because Beck and Elizabeth try to be the first to find their items in the aisles or find the right price that matches an item.  It is fun to see them racing to get their list completed first.  I also do not use this pack every time we go shopping, but instead I try to add it in here and there to add an educational component to some trips.

E.H.M. Member's Only Website

My Shopping Lesson Pack, like most of my over 260+ printable creations, will be available through my E.H.M. Member’s Only Website for a one time lifetime fee of $15.00. If you are a member of my E.H.M. Member’s Only Website you can find this pack under the “Math/Science” tab.  As an added bonus for those reading this that are not members yet, this printable will be available for free download by clicking the link below:

*By downloading this material you are agreeing to all terms of use that can be found by clicking HERE.

So, through helping with baking and my Shopping Lesson Pack Beck and Elizabeth can practice their math skills in real world settings.

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