Teaching Your Kids


Playing With Math: 
Forty Four Ideas for Mixing Food and Math (and Science)

"A good education for every child does not mean the same education for every child.  "

Please use what works for you and your child and ignore the rest.  Every child is different.  If this information does not seem to be a good fit for your particular child, then keep looking and experimenting until you find what works.


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  • Geometry – shapes – spherical oranges, circles of salami, squares of cheese, cubes of cheese
  • Arranging patterns on the plate- alternating tomatoes and onions on a platter for a party
  • Using cookie cutters to make shapes – which shapes tessellate?
  • Counting everything –jellybeans, carrots, forks, peas
  • Sorting and counting a bag of M&M’s – how many browns? How many oranges? Make a graph. Now subtract!
  • Grouping by twos or five or tens – each person gets two cookies – how many do we have? Do we have enough?
  • Putting out a fork for each person, a spoon for each plate.
  • Buying snacks at the pool. How much money do we have? How much do things cost? How can we get something for each person? What about the change?
  • How long until dinner? How will we know? What does the clock say?
  • Measuring cups and spoons. How many half cups in a cup? How many quarter cups?
  • Weight. A pound of pasta, a pound of butter, five pounds of flour, an ounce of cheese.
  • Adding an extra person for dinner. How many plates? How many kids? How many adults? How many in all?
  • Subtraction of cookies.
  • Making patterns on Christmas cookies.
  • Making a food pyramid chart, a chore chart, a what’s for dinner chart.
  • Surveying the family – rice or potatoes? Tallying the vote.
  • What does a hundred look like? A hundred cheerios, jellybeans, chocolate chips. How many more make a thousand?
  • How many chocolate chips in each cookie? How many in the whole batch?
  • Measuring the temperature of the candy or fudge.
  • Estimating which container has the capacity for the leftovers.
  • Dropping food coloring into glasses of water. Ratio of red to yellow when making orange.
  • Does this cup hold more or less water? What if we use a shorter, fatter cup?
  • If four people eat one slice of a pizza cut into eighths, how much pizza is left?
  • How can we make twice as many cookies in one batch?
  • Who gets the first pancake?  Who gets the second? Third?
  • Estimating how many beans in the jar.  Were you right? Count and see!
  • Reading stories about food. Reading recipes.  Following the directions on the cake mix box.
  • How many pieces do we need from this rectangular cake?  What are the different ways we can cut it?
  • If the muffin pan has four cups in one direction and three in the other, how many muffins can we make?
  • How many pieces of pizza do you think the people at our party will eat?
  • Decorating round cakes using radial symmetry.
  • Using toothpicks in marshmallows to make geometric models.
  • Sculpting bread dough.
  • Dividing the cookies among the number of kids present. Deciding what to do with the remainder.
  • Half of the jellybeans is how many? How many is one third?
  • Cooking with metric units.
  • Throwing eggs out the window wrapped in straws and Popsicle sticks and tape. Do they break?
  • Saving seeds from apples and melons and tomatoes. Sorting them. Planting them – how high do they grow? Make a chart.
  • Cut a stalk of celery in half at the bottom. Put each end in water with food coloring. What happens to the leaves?
  • Shake the can of mixed nuts. Now open it.  Where are the big nuts?  Where are the small ones?  Why?
  • How much sugar is in this cereal?  How much fiber? What about that one?  Which costs more?  Why?
  • Sorting cans and boxes in the cabinets. How do they fit together? Which one is taller? Cylinders and rectangular solids.
  • Properties of matter: solids, liquids, gasses. Ice, water, steam.
  • How hot is the oven? How cold is the freezer? How do we know? How does it work?