Learning math fractions is an intimidating concept for many elementary students. Teachers can take the fear out of this math concept by teaching fractions as part of a cooking lesson plan. Kids are introduced to the fractional measurements 1/3, ½, and 1 cup in a low key way that allows them to have fun while absorbing the new information.
The main character in the book If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff [HarperCollins, 1991] asks for jam to go with his muffin. Elementary teachers can read the story to the class and then make homemade jam with the class. Students can learn about fractions while they cook and sample their homemade jam on muffins just like the moose in the story.
Use Food to Teach Elementary Kids Fractions
The elementary teacher begins the reading and math fraction lesson by reading the book If You Give a Moose a Muffin to the class. The kids talk about the plot of the story and discuss the silly things the moose does. The teacher tells the students to raise their hands if they like to eat muffins and again if they like to eat jam. The kids talk about their experiences with the foods in the story.
The teacher informs the students that they are going to make jam to eat with muffins just like the moose in the story. She shows the students the materials they need to make the jam. The teacher holds up different types of measuring cups and shows the students the ones that hold 1/3 of a cup, ½ a cup, and a whole cup.
The teacher talks to the students about the concepts of parts and whole. She uses a glass measuring cup and popcorn kernels to demonstrate to the class that it takes 3 scoops of the 1/3 cup to fill the 1 cup glass measuring cup. The teacher repeats the procedure with the ½ cup measuring cup.
The teacher writes a no-cook jam recipe on the front board. The Wondertime website has a raw jam recipe that is easy to make with kids. The kids crush 2 cups of berries and mix them with 1/3 of a cup of sugar. The teacher assists the students in following the recipe and helping them make the jam. The kids can use fresh blackberries to make blackberry jam for the muffins like in the story If You Give a Moose a Muffin.
After the jam is done the teacher places it in a container with a top in the refrigerator to set. The class reviews the lesson and discusses the different types of fractions that can be used during cooking. The students write any new math fraction vocabulary in their math notebooks. When the jam is ready the kids all get to try it on mini-muffins.
Teachers can use If You Give a Moose a Muffin to motivate kids to learn about math fractions. Students can make homemade jam during a cooking lesson to practice measuring. After making jam teachers can us If You Give a Moose a Muffin to teach kindergarten kids the “sh” digraph, to teach students about the letter M with a Muffins With Mom Party, and to teach kids how to retell a story with a moose puppet.