Some people just don’t like math. That’s perfectly fine, but as educators we must teach it and make it a meaningful experience for the student so they are inspired to connect with the subject and retain the information. The Glazer Children’s Museum’s education team found their perfect recipe for teaching math through incorporating it into cooking programs.
In 2010, the Museum started Tasty Traditions, a daily cooking program offered during the holidays. Tasty Traditions showcases recipes from around the world as a way to teach world cultures and introduce children to new tastes. In 2013, the Museum evaluated Tasty Traditions and decided to take it a step further and use the program as an intentional opportunity to teach fractions and measuring.
A guest favorite is Carrot Halwa, a dish traditionally used during the Hindu Festival of Light. Most likely, the children participating cannot read but ingredients are always put in their measuring cup or spoon. This turns into a natural teaching moment. Which is bigger? Does 1 cup look like more or less than ½ cup? Take the experience a step further and let them smell the ingredients or assign an ingredient and a measurement to each child and have them each add to the mixture.
Another benefit of cooking programs is that they can be done with children in a variety of stages of play. Children can have individual projects or roles in the recipe or they can work together in a more cooperative setting. Cooking programs can be carried out different ways with the same yummy outcome and the teacher can alter the plans based on the class or group he or she is working with that day.
If cooking is not an option at your facility, sub out traditional dishes that require heat for a more craft-inspired recipe. For example, during October and November, the Glazer Children’s Museum is doing a fruit cocktail with pineapple, orange slices and whipped cream as a healthy alternative to a candy corn snack. By filling the soufflé cup with 1/3 of each ingredient, the recipe covers 3 equal parts.
Very rarely do we see a child pass up the chance to participate in a cooking program. They are so popular that we modified our daily program schedule to include an ongoing cooking program twice a day every Wednesday.
Carrot Halwa with Vanilla Ice Cream
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Light. During this holiday, family and friends come together to make special memories and enjoy time together. Diwali is famous for its elaborate feasts, sweets and snacks. Sweets are an important part of Diwali food traditions.
1 cup grated carrot
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2-3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ cup butter
Vanilla ice cream
Heat butter in a sauté pan and add carrot. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add condensed milk. Cover and cook over low heat until carrot is soft and milk disappears. Add sugar and nutmeg and sauté for one minute. Allow to cool. Layer carrots with vanilla ice cream. Top with coconut or nuts if desired.
Candy Corn Healthy Snack
Pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks
Oranges, cut into bite sized chunks (or use small Cuties brand oranges)
Candy corn (to garnish the top)
3oz soufflé cups
Fill bottom 1/3 of each cup with pineapple. Layer with oranges in the 2nd 1/3 and top with whipped cream. Optional, garnish with an actual candy corn.
Kerry Falwell is the director of Education & Community Partnerships at the Glazer Children’s Museum.