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Teach your kids math while making cookies

4th May 2021 Print
baking with children

Kids love cookies, but moms and dads may avoid making these sweets very often. They worry about teaching good eating habits, obesity, and more. Wouldn't it be nice if making cookies could be an educational activity, one that parents wouldn't need to feel guilty about? Actually, moms and dads across the globe are discovering ways to throw a little educational value into each cookie-making experience. The following explains how you can do the same. Once you see how much your kids pick up with each baking session, you'll want to plan more to boost their knowledge while making memories of a lifetime.

Colors and Shapes

Young children need to learn basic concepts before they delve further into math. At this stage of development, parents should focus on pointing out shapes and colors. A fun way to do this is to pick up some geometric cookie cutters of different sizes and shop for dinosaur cookie cutters or whatever the child is interested in now. Add food coloring to the cookies to discuss different colors and throw in a little art by showing them how to combine two colors to make a new one. While making cookies, talk about 2D and 3D objects. This can be accomplished easily by allowing the child to bring their favorite dinosaurs into the kitchen to help cook. The parent can then talk about how the cookie is a 2D dinosaur while the beloved plastic dinosaur or stuffed dinosaur the child takes everywhere they go is a 3D object.


As the child's skills progress, new concepts can be introduced while baking cookies. For instance, parents may ask the child to count the number of cookies on each pan or the number of cookies in a batch. Now is a good time to count the ingredients in the recipe and introduce the concept of measurements. Children don't need to learn anything more than the names for measuring cups, measuring spoons, and other utensils used for similar purposes. Many other things can be counted when cooking, so be sure to think of what the child can count as part of the baking process to give them more practice.


Children want to know more as they learn new skills. For example, once the child knows the name of the different utensils used to measure ingredients, they may have additional questions. Emphasize the importance of accurate measurements in baking, so this is cemented in the child's mind. It's no fun to make cookies only to find they aren't edible because the measurements were off. If a scale is available, preschool is a good age to introduce ounces and pounds. Kids love weighing things so allow them to play with the scale once the cleanup is done.

As the child ages, ask them to estimate the weight of different ingredients and discuss how liquids and dry ingredients use different measurement utensils. By the upper elementary years, a child is ready to learn about metric conversions. They can read the recipe and make conversions when needed. Teach them about Fahrenheit and Celsius and introduce fractions in the kitchen, as they are going to come across them when they read the recipes.


Baking is a great way to teach children about fractions. Have them add or subtract fractions by giving them measuring cups. Rather than using the 2/3 cup, use the 1/3 cup and help them figure out how to make 2/3 cup using it. A great way to introduce young children to fractions is to use a candy bar that breaks into blocks. Have them break the blocks off and point out the corresponding fraction.

As the child gets older, show them how teaspoons and tablespoons are related to cups and ounces. Let the kids pour the same ingredient into two different measuring cups before comparing and contrasting them. In the upper elementary years, have the child double or halve the recipe being used. They can convert fractions to decimals when baking or discuss the volume of different pans when doubling or halving the recipes. Kids at this age begin asking more questions, and parents need to be prepared to answer them or work with the child to find the answer.


When baking, chefs must use the time listed in the recipe. This serves as a great way to introduce the concept of time. Young children can learn to count backward by watching the timer on the stove. Older kids can be asked to calculate what time a recipe would need to go in the oven to be ready for dinner, taking into account the prep, cook, and cool times.

Additional Concepts

Math isn't the only subject that can be taught when baking cookies. Teach children to read the recipe and reinforce the reading skills they are learning in school. Many children don't realize they are reinforcing these skills because they are having fun making a treat for the family to enjoy.

Cooking involves a significant amount of science. Help the child learn about scientific reactions by mixing vinegar with baking soda. Discuss how liquid and dry ingredients used in a cookie recipe come together, changing shape while doing so, to create the fun treat. Physical and chemical reactions are easily taught while cooking, as are scientific observations. A parent may even want to make two batches of cookies, leaving a key ingredient out of one batch. They can then discuss with the child how that affected the recipe and the finished product. There's even some chemistry involved when you are baking.

Head to the kitchen with your child and make a batch of cookies. As you do so, talk about different math concepts. The child will be having so much fun they won't see they are learning at the same time. Once they appear to grasp a concept, ask them questions about that concept with the next batch cooked. Keep in mind these methods can be used regardless of what you are making. Choose recipes your child wants to try and make the most of the time together by discussing what you are doing. The knowledge that is gained during these activities will help the child in school while the memories being made last a lifetime.

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baking with children