This is the first time we are talking about food activities as a means of promoting early math skills with children. I recently bumped into an old friend who is now a school social worker but who had been a teacher in a preschool for years. When I told her about my blog she thought long and hard about how she approached math in her former classroom and the only solid example she could come up with was cooking.
I appreciate that cooking is an obvious example of an activity that promotes all sorts of early math skills. I also love that, when done well, cooking supports communication skills, social skills, language and literacy skills, science skills, and you end up with something yummy to eat.
As we continue exploring apples during the month of September, we have to make apple sauce with the children. There are many ways and many recipes that can be used, but I prefer easy and nutritious, over complicated and sugary.
After washing hands, and having the children sit at the table with you, peel and cut the apples. First into halves and then into halves of halves (or fourths). Children can count the apple slices as you cut. You can also have them help get the seeds out and then you can fully core the apples.
Place all of the slices into a large stockpot and add a cup of water (just a little water at the bottom to increase the steam in the pot). Cover the pot and boil the apple slices down. Once they are pretty soft, take the pot off the stove and let cool.Now is the time to discuss how the apples have changed. You can use vocabulary like “solid” and “liquid” or “hard” and “soft”. The children will use their observation skills to report what they have noticed.
The children can take turns mashing the apples with a potato masher. Add nothing, as the season’s harvest will provide all the sweetness needed and the apple sauce will be terrific.
Serve the apple sauce. Ask how much they want or whether they want “a lot” or “a little”. Remember, every opportunity to use math language should not be missed.