Baking Together - So Much More than Measures

Baking with children leads naturally to informal mathematical discussions. For us, this resulted in the children's own self-discoveries and meaningful exploration of multiplication and division concepts.

Without the hurried pace of our 'normal' family life, the children were given the time and space to cook with more independence, more responsibility and without me stressing about the mess. The recipe was for 24 cakes so Isla (age 8) was given the task of halving the quantities. Isla had a tray of 12 and Harry (age 6) had two trays of 6 which led to an instant argument over who had more... Learning through sibling rivalry! This was a crucial argument in supporting the mathematical development of both children even at their different stages. The children were able to come to an agreement that the number of cakes would be equal by simply asking them 'what's the same?' and 'what's different?' about the trays.

As they scooped the mixture (which they had themselves measured out and mixed entirely independently) into the cases, we talked about making them 'equal.' They then witnessed the impact of them being 'unequal' when an array of tiny and large cakes came out of the oven.

I told them the cakes had to be shared between the 4 of us (including Dad). Harry watched closely as Isla began to share the cakes into 4 groups before telling her to stop... "You don't need to do that, Isla! It's just 3 from mine and 3 from yours." Harry had identified the 4 groups of 3 within the array structure of the trays.

I then challenged Isla, after allowing the 3 of us to have one cake each, to share the remaining cakes...How can we quarter 21? With discussion, and by using the cakes to physically cut one up into quarters, she did get the answer... But in the end she chose the easier and tastier solution of just eating the remainder one!

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