Math and science and history, oh my!

I had envisioned adding to the last post, some thoughts on Learning Stuff Other Than “How To Bake” In A Baking Lesson, but then that post would have been annoyingly long.  So, perhaps from now on I’ll just do a follow-up post with any ideas.  I’d love it if people could chime in with their suggestions too.

What can you learn besides baking fundamentals from these sessions?

Language arts skills.  Reading and following a recipe.  Pretty straightforward, right?  For my youngest who is just learning how to read, simply identifying and understanding the difference in what T and t means in a recipe is pretty important. For kids working on grammar, looking for the adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc. in a recipe could be a new activity.  Putting together a grocery list for a baking project, or even using that recipe as a guide in writing out the steps for how to prepare a favorite snack could be another.

What else?

Math.  You cannot bake without using math. Whether you are measuring ingredients by weight or by volume you are working with numbers.  The decimal system, fractions, equivalent fractions, time.  For instance, in the last recipe we needed 2 oz. of butter and we had a 4 oz. stick.  I asked the kids for advice.  Or we had to divide the dough into eight equal portions.  Again, the kids helped figure that out.  At 12:15 we had to let the dough rise for 50 minutes.  When will it be done?  See? Math. The younger kids benefit from simply exploring with measuring cups.  For older kids you could have them halve or double a recipe. Just make sure you have freezer space for all the extras!

Science.  So many opportunities for further investigation! Can I predict what might happen if I mix the yeast with cold water instead of warm, or without the sugar?  What difference would it make if I split my pretzel dough into two bowls and leave one in a warm spot and the other in a cooler spot? If I don’t boil some of the pretzels before baking will they taste the same?

History.  Food history is pretty fascinating if you ask me.  We are studying the Middle Ages in Story of the World right now, so the kids were interested to learn that pretzels may have been invented by monks sometime in the 5th century. Ok, they weren’t quite as excited as I was about the connection, but still. Wikipedia is always helpful, but is a great resource for answering those “who thought this up?” kind of questions.

I almost forgot home economics! Do they even teach this in school anymore? In my home ec class I think I learned how to make chocolate chip cookies and sew on a button.  I also have a vague memory of parker house rolls.  In this age of grab and go food, I think it’s more important than ever for kids to be comfortable in the kitchen, to know that armed with some basic cooking skills and research they can take any packaged food they find in a grocery store and make it at home cheaper, healthier and tastier.  It’s not magic.  It’s food.

What are your thoughts on extending the learning?


6 thoughts on “Math and science and history, oh my!

  1. This is exactly how we look at things. We are probably considered to be “unschoolers” so I find learning in everything. Thanks for the tips and reminders! Also? I so wish there were more affordable cooking classes for kids.

  2. Yes, affordable cooking classes are tough to find. My other issue with those classes is that many of them teach more “assembly” than actual cooking from whole foods. Not all of course. And there’s nothing wrong with that approach if at the end of the day it gets kids interested in being in the kitchen, but sometimes it feels like they’re underestimating their clients.

  3. Since my kids are currently focusing on categories in their science learning, we’ve also been talking about solids, liquids, and gases in relation to food, as well as sugars, fats, and protein. They love knowing that the tiny air pockets in bread are the result of the yeast…um, burping. And they definitely know that is a gas!

  4. Hi, WordPress said you “liked” my post, so I came over to see who you were. These are great! I really liked the pretzel post . . . reminded me of days a decade ago when we were baking bread with our kindergartner for homeschool science and math lessons. He was diagnosed celiac, and we stopped all gluten baking. Thanks for the story and pictures, such happy memories.

    ~Ann (from over at

    • Thanks Ann! And thanks for stopping by. I liked the focus of your blog. Good stuff there. I haven’t had much luck baking gluten-free bread, but have had success with other baked goods and pastries. Many of the lessons I have planned are recipes that lend themselves well to gluten-free adaptations, quick breads, cakes, etc. Just curious, do you still do much baking?

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