10 Cooking Projects That Will Teach Your Kids Math, Science, and More!
Working parents can have a hard time managing their evenings. After all, there are just a few short hours between coming home and bedtime to play with the kids, help them with their homework, and get dinner on the table. But what if you could accomplish all of these tasks in one go? Kids are far more likely to show interest in what's being served for dinner if they had a hand in preparing it, and not only that, but cooking with kids can be a great opportunity to help them learn important life skills from math to science to language. Here are ten of our tastiest ideas.
Learning Weights with Pound Cake
Pound cake gets its name from the proportions used to make it: one pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. This classic pound cake recipe, written with volume measurements, is a great way to explore proportions with kids and to help them discover all on their own that different substances weigh different amounts. Start by asking that age-old riddle: What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks? As you explore this concept with them, allow them to use a kitchen scale to discover the secret behind a truly delicious pound cake all on their own.
Learning Fractions with Orange Vinaigrette
Vinaigrettes aren't just delicious toppings for salad. They're also a wonderful way to teach kids about fractions and proportions in a hands-on recipe that's safe for all ages. Use this vinaigrette recipe to teach kids how to measure using cup and tablespoon measures, and have older kids halve or double the recipe to help them practice these essential skills.
Learning Patterns with Tian
Fans of the Disney film Ratatouille will love making this layered vegetable tian with you, and it's a great tool for teaching smaller kids about patterns. Pre-slice the vegetables for your kids, then allow them to create a pattern, alternating colors. Encourage them to repeat the pattern and try to guess which vegetable should come next.
Learning Colors with Fruit Salad
This lesson plan can work on two levels. If your kids are very little and in the early stages of first language acquisition, this delicious fruit salad recipe is a bright, vibrant way to help them learn their colors. But even older kids can benefit from helping with this recipe (and their knife skills are certainly better!). Kids who are taking a foreign language will likely already have a vocabulary list of color and food words, which are some of the first that are taught. Use these vocab words to help your kids create simple sentences — for example, "The strawberry is red," or "The grape is green," — as a wonderful way to have them practice their new language in a real-world setting.
Learning Alphabetizing with Cobb Salad
Cobb salad is made with lines of different ingredients like cheese, bacon, eggs, and tomatoes arranged in lines over a bed of lettuce. Let kids help you assemble this delicious main dish salad — and learn to alphabetize — by encouraging them to arrange these ingredients in alphabetical order.
Learning About Yeast and Fermentation with Pizza Dough
This lesson plan is a bit more forthrightly culinary than some of the others on this list, but making pizza dough is also a phenomenally fun tactile experience for kids of all ages. Use this recipe to teach kids about the way that yeast works, consuming sugars and making little bubbles of air that you can see in the final product (this video from Alton Brown is a great place to start!). Consider teaching them, too, about kneading and the formation of gluten strands to lend structure to the dough. And of course, kids of all ages will have fun decorating their own pizzas with tasty toppings.
Learning About Oxidation with Guacamole
Teaching kids about oxidation is easy to do with a variety of fruits like apples or bananas which, when cut, turn brown in a matter of minutes or hours. While making this guacamole recipe, you can explore the way that fruits protect themselves from the damaging effects of oxygen by turning brown, and you can also experiment with adding acid like tomatoes and limes to allow the avocados to keep their bright green color in the finished dish.
Learning About Centrifugal Force with Egg Salad
Use this egg salad recipe as a way to introduce kids to a cool experiment showing how centrifugal force works. If you spin a raw egg, it will slow to a stop quite a bit more quickly than a hard-boiled egg. A great explanation of how and why this experiment works can be found here. Try it with your kids before whipping up this salad — with hard-boiled eggs, of course!
Learning About Chemical Reactions with Crazy Cake
Learning Geometry with Sugar Cookies
What's the best way to cut a sheet of cookie dough: into triangles, rectangles, or circles? Which way yields the most cookies? And are all of the cookies the same size? Kids can get hands-on experience understanding the way that the same sized sheet of dough can be divided into individual pieces with this delicious sugar cookie recipe.