How Baking Can Be Summer Reading, Writing, & Math Practice!

May 31, 2013
I'll say good-bye to my this year's group of little 1st graders this coming week.  {Sniff, sniff.}  Have you got kids or grand-kids out of school for the summer?  If your child's teacher is at all like me, she or he probably said something about keeping your child reading, writing, and doing a little math over the summer, right?  {And if she or he didn't ... consider this to be me saying it for them now!}

Well, did you know you can keep your child practicing reading, writing, and math through simply baking and cooking with them?  That's right! ...

You can have fun in the kitchen with your kids this summer and keep them 'fresh' with their studies!  How cool is that?  And easy bar cookie and no-bake recipes provide the perfect opportunities.

How, you ask?

Well let's take a look at a few recipes to see.

Take these classic 7-Layer Cookies for reading, for example ...

Reading recipes gives great practice in … well … simply reading.  But it’s also rich with reading comprehension practice, sequencing, and vocabulary.  When cooking, your child can read the recipe, and summarize it in his or her own words.  Vocabulary can be broadened by discussing the meaning of unfamiliar words, and meaning can be reinforced through actually doing or experiencing those words while helping prepare the recipe.  Learning by doing is extremely powerful!

So, with these delicious 7-Layer Cookies, your child could:
  • Verbally summarize the steps to make these
  • Write a list or flow map of the order the ingredients are layered in the pan (yes, sequencing is a reading skill!)
  • Look for letters or sounds or sight words appropriate for his/her grade level
  • Work on vocabulary with, perhaps, the words ‘condensed,’ ‘chopped,’ ‘layer,’ ‘sprinkle,’ ‘remaining,’ ‘previous,’ or any other unfamiliar word
  • Practice comprehension strategies by thinking of questions he/she has about the recipe, or predicting what will happen at each step

But what about writing?  How would that work with baking?  Let’s let these ooey-gooey Caramel-Walnut Squares help us out.

Now, writing practice doesn’t always have to involve a pencil.  The act of coming up with content is an extremely important part of the writing process … and that content can simply be spoken aloud.  In my classroom, we call this ‘writing with our mouths.’  You know, ‘cause sometimes that ol’ pencil just gets in the way!  So summer writing practice could be both a little ‘writing with the mouth’ and a little writing with a pencil, if you’d like.

To practice writing while making these Caramel-Walnut Squares, your child could:
  • ‘Write with his/her mouth’ to describe the oatmeal layer, the caramel layer, and/or the finished product.  Use all five senses … touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing … to come up with great descriptive words and sentences. 
  • Write a summary, in his/her own words, of how to make them
  • Write his/her opinion about the squares … complete with support for that opinion!
  • Create a fiction story involving the squares ... like, perhaps where the caramel layer goes crazy and flows out of the oven like a river all over the kitchen.  Get creative!  {making sure the story includes a beginning, middle, and end, of course!}
  • Think about a change he/she would like to make to the squares and write his/her own new recipe.  Maybe you’ll even let it be tried out!

Ahhhh, and math.  Baking and cooking are jam-packed with math learning opportunities … like measuring, and counting, and patterning, and adding, and fractions … the list goes on and on!

No-Bake Strawberry Ice Box Cake  and No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Dessert are going to help us out with math.  {I didn’t think you’d mind.}

For math practice with No-Bake Strawberry Ice Box Cake, your child could:
  • Do a geometry shape puzzle.  You’re probably thinking … what???  Well, this recipe naturally is a geometry shape puzzle!  Yes … figuring out how to fit the graham crackers for each graham cracker layer into the pan, breaking some as needed, is a shape puzzle.  Cool, huh?
  • Create patterns with the strawberries as he/she layers in the fruit
  • Calculate the amount of ingredients needed to make ½ the recipe … or to double it.  Or, to make any different size, for that matter.
  • Estimate how many strawberry slices will result from a handful of the strawberries to be used.  Then, count the slices to see how close the estimate was.
  • Figure out what time the cake will be ready, given the overnight ... let's say 10 or 12 hour ... refrigerating time  

This No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Dessert is also fabulous for math practice.

While helping make this recipe, your child could:
  • Do the same type of geometry shape puzzle with the graham cracker layers as with the No-Bake Strawberry Ice Box Cake
  • Continue the AB pattern of the graham cracker and pudding layers to figure out what would come 6th, or 10th, or 13th (or any other position) if you ... hypothetically, of course ... kept building that many layers of this delicious dessert
  • Further develop his/her conceptual understanding of 1/2 by dividing the pudding mixture into two bowls to see the halves used for each pudding layer
  • Compare the relative size of the different measures used in the recipe ... teaspoon, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup ... lay out the measuring instruments and have your child place them in order from smallest to largest, or largest to smallest
  • Conduct a research survey/data collection project about the final product ... He/she could ask each family member whether or not they liked the dessert, come up with a way to collect the data (tally marks, etc), and then come up with a way to graph or represent the data (bar graph, picture graph, t-chart ... the possibilities are almost endless!)
  • Now, this is science instead of math, but I've got to throw it in ... working with the butter in the topping of this recipe lends itself well to a discussion of solids and liquids ... I'm just sayin' ... take every learning opportunity you can!

I could go on and on about learning activities while baking and cooking ... they're simply sooooo rich with learning opportunities.  So, pull out a few of your favorite recipes this summer, have fun in the kitchen, and keep your child's mind practicing reading, writing, and math at the same time!  


  1. I told my kids they have no excuse for not understanding fractions because we spend so much time in the kitchen ;) I've been known to hand them the wrong sized measuring cup and make them convert the fractions ... or half or double a recipe ;)

  2. These look delicious! And,very true, super fun way to teach the kids! Thanks for sharing at HomeSchool After School.

  3. YUM! I'm so glad we found your blog!! Thanks for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!

  4. As a kid I always loved to lurk around the kitchen while my mom cooks and flip open all the recipe books I could find! Cooking is so much fun! Kids will definitely love it. :)

  5. This was a great post! I got a bit distracted by the yummy treats but loved your idea about using baking as an educational tool.

    If you have a minute to spare I'd be so thrilled if you could link this post to my weekly Say G'Day linky party! It has just started and this would be a perfect addition.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  6. Thanks for all the good recipes(lessons)!

  7. They can also learn a lot about science in the kitchen!

  8. Wow, those look awesome and I can always use help with my math skills.

    Visiting from SITS.

  9. These look like such fabulous treats! This would be great to link-up to my Create It Thursday's live now!

  10. Thank you very much for sharing such great recipes! I think you're very talented in that. My wife often makes me cookies and cakes according to your recipes. Also, our children like them very much. They especially love Oreo cake with tea. Since my wife works as a writer in, she just wants to write her recipes and make her own cooking blog. What advice could you give her? We would appreciate your response. I hope you continue to share this type of content!

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