Teaching Math and Reading through Cooking

Kids love to cook, bake, and experiment with food. We also know how beneficial cooking is for children. They are gaining a whole boatload of skills and lessons from cooking.

They learn edible science along with fine motor skills, sequencing, and direction following.

There is a way, however, to extract even more learning through cooking by making picture recipes that they can follow along with.

I prepared a specific recipe for this post to show you how you can make your own recipes with your children that will help extend their reading and math through cooking.

I chose a simple (actually very delicious) chocolate cake.

My goals with most recipes are:

  1. Direction following and sequencing
  2. Reading skills (matching, sight words, beginning consonants …)
  3. Simple addition and fractions

Some tools you might find helpful while in the kitchen with kids are (contains affiliate links):

  1. Clear Measuring Cup
  2. Cotton Canvas Kids Aprons and Hat Set
  3. Silicone Mold Cupcake Baking Pans
  4. Knife Skills Online Class (For kids 2 – Teen)

Cooking with Kids – How to Make a Picture Recipe

The first sheet I created contained the ingredients I needed for the cake.

I took pictures of the ingredients I needed and then uploaded them to my word document to use for the recipe.

I color coded the names of the ingredients so that the pre-readers can see a colorful word on the directions sheet and go back and see which ingredient matched that color.

Cooking with Kids (3)

Before you begin, it may be a good idea to show the children the measuring utensils that you are going to use. Some measuring cups have multiple cups in them. There are also measuring cups that come as individual amounts for 1 cup, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 cup.

It is best to do this activity with one cup that has measurements written on it. If you have the individual ones, you can add different math activities before you start cooking.

For example:

  • How many of the 1/2 cups fit into the whole cup
  • How many of the 1/4 cups fit into the 1/2 or the whole etc.

(Below is an image of a sheet I once made to show fractions of 1 cup)

Cooking with Kids (1)

Then there are the measuring spoons. Do similar things with the spoons that you do with the cups.

The next thing to do is to gather the ingredients in the right amounts.

Read it through with them first. If they don’t know what the word says, have them refer to the pictures of the ingredients to tell what the ingredient is.

Cooking with Kids (2)

Once you have all of the ingredients prepared then just follow the simple directions below.

I added some repetitive words as they love quickly picking up what the words actually say and they can do that when the same words are added repetitively.

image of directions

Below is another way to make a recipe.

Cooking with Kids (4)

Once you spend the time making a recipe you can always use it more than once. As a matter of fact, you may even want to try to have the children follow the recipe themselves the second time around, with you watching from the sidelines.

Even though it is a bit of work to prepare these recipes it is well worth it if you want to squeeze the most learning out of your cooking and baking sessions.

Print out the Faigie’s Picture recipes. Ingredients Key  Fractions for Cooking  Ingredients List  Directions #1  Directions #2

cropped image for home page

Faigie Kobre is the owner of Edu Art 4 Kids, an art website for parents and teachers teaching the best kinds of art for kids development. You now have the opportunity to learn the secrets that progressive, professional teachers use to help your children become better learners, increase their self-esteem and inspire amazing creativity through the free report How the wrong crafts can harm your child’s IQ and right kind makes them better learners.


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