While our classroom has been at the kitchen table more than any other location, that is not my focus for this piece. Are you enjoying the great learning opportunities in the kitchen? Especially in the elementary years, there are great lessons to enjoy while cooking great treats! Math, reading, and science are fun in the kitchen. Telling time, reading thermometers and planning menu are useful skills.
Basic math abounds in cooking. Setting the table with the right number of plates, counting the eggs for the recipe or figuring out how many pieces of cake can be cut from the pan are great ways to exercise young math brains. Putting a cake in the oven at 2:15 and figuring out what time it will be done makes telling time much more interesting.
Fractions begin to make sense in the kitchen. Young children become familiar with fractions as they fill up ¼ cup with oil. Or challenge a bit older child by asking them to use only the smaller measures…¼ or 1/3 for the entire recipe. To challenge the math skills a bit more, double or triple a recipe (or even cut it in half!).
Reading is much more fun if you use letter cutters and spell words. Or use letter cake decorations or icing tubes to write fun messages. Simply reading a recipe helps children follow directions–and read! Using an index or a table of contents helps in finding a recipe, but it is a very transferable skill.
Perhaps best of all the learning is the fun science that is a part of cooking! The three forms of matter (solid, liquid and gas–steam) show up all the time. The magic of yeast, air pockets in pop-overs or the fun of corn-starch goop all have ‘science’ lessons wrapped in cooking fun! The tools in the kitchen are a great lesson in simple machines: levers, planes and gears.
We cannot forget about history and culture! Explore why ‘pound cake’ recipes abound in the south (hint: refrigeration and a proliferation of eggs and butter). Dig into family recipes and find some of the unusual ‘treats’ of the Depression Era. Immigration and the settlement of entire areas of the country are revealed in regional dishes. Foods reflect culture. Use foods to expand studies of foreign countries. The fun of the kitchen should not be missed. Enjoy the homeschool opportunity your kitchen offers.