Kitchen math and measuring know-how are important life skills for students whether they intend to pursue a culinary career or not. But does the mention of math elicit groans or dazed looks in your classroom? Never fear! The tips and activities below will help you engage students in building these basic skills for consistent kitchen success.
1. Start by reviewing kitchen math and measuring basics
Some of your students may be brand new to cooking and baking and not be familiar with common units of measurement. Begin by reviewing the units students are likely to encounter in a recipe as well as their abbreviations, such as cups (c.), teaspoons (tsp.), ounces (oz.), and pounds (lb.).
Once students have a solid grasp on units, you can move onto reviewing equivalencies. Review how many teaspoons in a tablespoon, tablespoons in a cup, cups in a pint, ounces in a cup, tablespoons in a stick of butter, and more.
It’s a lot to remember, but you can help visual learners by posting references around the classroom to reinforce equivalencies and measuring basics. Create a fraction line that shows 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, and 3/4, including equivalents such as 2/4 next to 1/2.
2. Play some kitchen math games together
Once students have mastered the basics, it’s time to practice, practice, practice! A classroom relay will get everyone involved and turn practice into a fast-paced, engaging game.
Divide your class into two groups. For each round of the relay, one member from each group should go up to the board. Once both students are ready, shout out or display a question for them to answer. For example, “How many tablespoons are in 1/4 cup?” The student that writes down their answer first earns their team a point.
You could widen the quiz to include other concepts that students will be tested on later, including unit abbreviations and measuring techniques.
Students may also enjoy playing some Kitchen Equivalents Bingo (especially when you throw in some sweet treats as prizes).
3. Put kitchen math into practice with simple recipes
When students are hungry for more, it’s time to get in the kitchen! Start with simple recipes that don’t have a lot of ingredients and don’t take a lot of time to prepare. For example, muffins made with pancake mix, no-bake cookies, or salt dough.
Before they begin, have students reduce the recipe amounts to only make enough for themselves or their small group. After they’ve prepared their treats, have them evaluate how it went. Did their dish turn out well? Would they do anything differently?
For extra practice, ask students to adapt the recipe to make double the original amount. What if they worked for a bakery and needed 10 times the amount?
4. Challenge students with nontraditional measurements
You’ve covered the common units of measurement, but what about when a recipe calls for “just a pinch of salt?” You can still prepare students to cook and bake with confidence.
Use this free lesson plan to walk students through nontraditional measurements, explore the importance of standardized measurements, learn alternative ways to measure using commercial methods, and more.
The pie’s the limit!
Once you’ve helped students master the basics of kitchen math, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish in the culinary arts. Their newfound abilities will serve them well in preparing consistently delicious dishes, whether they’re for a party of one or a group of guests.