Fraction Fun in the Kitchen

Have you ever thought of the kitchen as a great place to teach fractions? It's actually the perfect place! Fractions can be a challenging concept for children to grasp. Children are used to working with whole numbers and whole sets. A fraction is a part of a whole. The fraction be part of a whole number or part of a whole set of objects. A fraction is a number written with the bottom part (the denominator) telling you how many parts the whole is divided into, and the top part (the numerator) telling how many parts you have. There are many items in the kitchen that can be used for fraction practice. Here are ways to teach and enrich the concept of fractions while having fun in the kitchen.

RECIPES
Recipes are full of fractions. Choose a recipe with a variety of fractions. Before preparing the food, spend some time looking at the recipe. For preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders, point out the fractions to them and talk about the recipe. Have them count how many ingredients are measured with a fraction. Second and third graders will have fun with the challenge of doubling each fraction or cutting each fraction in half. Although adding and subtracting fractions is not usually introduced until fourth or fifth grade, this is a great way to introduce the concept. Then, have fun making the recipe with your child.

MEASURING CUPS AND SPOONS -- PART OF A WHOLE

In addition to reinforcing the concept of fractions, measuring tools found in the kitchen are a great way to incorporate measuring skills. Gather measuring cups and measuring spoons. For preschoolers and kindergarteners set out bowls of water with the measuring tools and encourage your child to fill the larger measuring cups and spoons with the smaller cups and spoons. Add food coloring to the different bowls of water for a fun twist. Your child will enjoy experimenting with the different size cups and spoons. Ask them how many of one size cup or spoon it takes to fill a larger size cup or spoon. By answering these questions, your child is working with the concept of fractions even though actual fractions may not be mentioned.

First, second, and third graders will also enjoy experimenting with the measuring tools and bowls of water, but will demonstrate fractions in greater depth. Ask your child to fill the cup 1/3 full, the tablespoon 1/4 full, etc. For a challenge, have your child fill a two cup measuring cup. Ask your child what amount should be poured out to have 1-1/2 cups left, what amount should be poured out to have 2/3 cup left, etc.

FOOD FUN - PART OF A SET
This activity is geared towards first, second, and third graders. After you come home from the grocery store have your child find the foods that come in sets. Hotdog or hamburger buns, pudding cups, eggs, bottles of water, and string cheese are good examples. Anything that comes in a box with the number included will work well, too. Before any of these items are eaten, ask your child to choose one of the foods. Take a number of that food out of the set and ask your child what fraction of the food you took out and what fraction of the food is still left. For example, if you take three hotdog buns out of the package, 3/8 of the buns are out and 5/8 of the buns are still left. Repeat this with other foods by choosing different fractions each time.

EDIBLE CREATIONS
Make an edible creation to be shared with the whole family. Have your child choose five small food items to put in the creation. Cereal, raisins, candies, marshmallows, and pretzels are great examples. Preschoolers and kindergarteners can use the different size measuring cups to put the items in a bowl. Ask your child which size cup would be best to use as they tell you the amount (a lot or a little) to be put in the bowl. For first, second, and third graders, have them decide the actual measurement of each item to be put in the bowl (1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 2 cups, etc.) before they make it. Have your child make the creation using the correct measuring cups and serve it to your family.

The kitchen is full of opportunities to work with fractions. Have fun with the whole family in the kitchen while learning about fractions!

Debbie Frank
Adjunct Professor Teacher Education