Teach Measurement & Volume Through Cooking: Tips for Parents to Encourage Learning at Home

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Parents are always looking for ways to help their children. Learning measurement concepts at school does not normally involve hands on activities to reinforce the concepts. Here are activities that can be done at home in the kitchen that are educational and practical.

What is a Cup?

In order to show children measurement concepts, a few basic tools are necessary. In this activity dry goods will be measured. You will need measuring cups for dry ingredients in 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup sizes. Dry ingredients to measure will be required. Flour, dry beans or peas, and uncooked rice are all good choices. Use what is on hand. Plastic containers in various sizes to hold dry ingredients will be needed. A kitchen scale that measures ounces is needed.

1 cup is 8 ounces. Have children measure out 1 cup of dry ingredients like beans. Have them pour it out into one of the plastic containers. Have them measure out 1 cup of a different dry ingredient such as rice or flour. Pour that into a different container. Compare the two ingredients and ask these questions: Do they look the same? Why or why not? Weigh them to be sure. Why does 1 cup of beans appear to contain less than 1 cup of rice? Repeat with the other measuring cups.

Do two ½ cups make a whole? Using two containers measure out 1 cup of a dry ingredient and put it into one of the containers. Using the same dry ingredient, measure out two ½ cups and put that into a different container. Compare the two containers. In the first container, we know it contains 1 cup. Take the 1 cup measuring cup and measure the contents of the container that contains two ½ cups. Is it 1 cup? Repeat with the other measuring cups.

What is a Pound?

1 pound is 16 ounces. For this activity a balance is required. Most educational toy stores carry one that is suitable for this activity. Look for items in the kitchen that are 1 pound. Some ideas are a pound of butter, rice, beans, grains, etc. If the items are in containers larger than 1 pound, have the children measure out 1 pound by using the measuring cups in the above activity.

Using the balance compare the weights of different items. Is 1 pound of butter equal t o1 pound of beans? Are 2 cups equal to 1 pound? Use the balance and the different sized measuring cups to try out different scenarios.

Cooking Activities

Use what the kids have learned to create something tasty. As a parent, allow them to do as much as they can on their own, however, supervise to keep everyone safe. Let them measure and cook rice as a side dish with dinner. Rice is easy; it is twice the water to rice. 1 cup of rice will require 2 cups of water.

Parents can also supervise cookie baking. Tollhouse cookies are easy to bake and the recipe can be found online at nestle.com. This is a tasty and fun reward for exploring measurement concepts. There is nothing abstract about warm cookies fresh from the oven.