Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Science and Cooking – How to Teach Science With Cooking

I was quite pleased to see these few science questions in my son’s workbook yesterday. And as I was reading it to him – he could relate to the practical side of the question to look for the answer.
Here is an example of a question that combines science and ingriedients used in cooking. Its an example on how to apply cooking to teach science. And this simple principle could be applied to any age group. The explanations would of course differ depending on each individual child.


Mr. Applebee’s class plans to bake a butter cake. Which of the following do you think is a science question that could be investigated while baking the cake?

(A) Do butter cakes rise?
(B) Which of cakes does the class prefer?
(C) Do butter cakes need baking powder to rise?
(D) How much does it cost to make 2 butter cakes?

The answer is C. We need baking powder to make a cake rise.

How does baking powder work? How does baking powder make the cake rise?

Baking powder and baking soda both produce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a gas that will ‘push’ the batter side-ways and upward. They raise baked products. Flat cakes and biscuits don’t look very tempting! Baking soda works best with an acidic ingredient. Baking powder contains both baking soda and a dry acidic ingredient, which raises the cake or biscuits even more than baking soda alone. Generally, 1 teaspoon of baking powder can be used for 1 cup of flour to help your cake rise.

Note: Just from one action in the baking process, your child learns:

(i) How to bake a butter cake of course;
(ii) What is carbon dioxide
(iii) How carbon dioxide works
(iv) What is baking powder and why and how it is used
(v) Introduce the concept of acidity

We could use this example in teaching our kids science concepts through the cooking process. Perhaps, in my next blog, I will provide some questions that could have handy in the kitchen for reference.

Happy Cooking and Teaching!

PS: Where to get or buy baking powder. Most supermarkets and neighborhood grocers would have it. I was also told that baking powder from is good for cakes and biscuits. I also found that the company also sells all sorts of other baking supplies. Many of friends love their goods.

Baking Powder Gluten Free - 4/16 Oz Baking Powder: GR Herbs, Foods, Supplements, Bath & Body

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

“What Do I Feel About Cooking” – A Child’s Experience

My elder son loves the idea of cooking. He is nine. He gets into the kitchen with me more frequently compared to my younger son. He says that cooking is all about making someone happy. People should be happy eating the food we prepare and serve.

He loves writing too! And perhaps cooking has over the years injected the idea of writing and the power of the pen. I have noticed that he tends to express himself through the written word.

I found this mussing in one of his note books. He let me read it and said that I should share it with others. I have reproduced his piece here – except for spelling and perhaps some grammar, this is my son’s original piece.
What I feel about cooking:
Chapter 1: How I Feel

I feel great when I cook. I might be a kid but am great at cooking and when I grow up I’ll be a chef. They’ll call me Chef K! The most famous chef in the galaxy!

You have to pick the right ingredients. Otherwise your food will smell like a dumpster – Ewww, gross!

I cook soup while I am a kid, which I am. But I will cook all sorts of food when I grow up.

I also think cooking is the best way to earn money. I might even be rich. I could help lots of people then.

The end

Monday, March 15, 2010

Teaching Math to a 10 year old With Cooking – Secrets they don’t teach you at school

10 year olds are busy bees! How do you get them to practice math at home? To be effective, one great way is for kids to practice math through hands’ on activities which gets their interest. At times, there must be some injection of fun and not so serious an environment to get them to understand math.

Math basics are essential and you will be surprised how our homes are equipped to ensure that our kids acquire those math fundamentals.

10 year olds need to learn a lot about fractions. From basic fractions that are with common denominator they will go on to learn uncommon denominators and the use of fractions in various math operations.

It was not easy for me when my son was just learning fractions. Drawing diagrams and using color just did not get it home with him. I sliced potatoes at first to show him what fractions meant.

Potatoes helped greatly and I also turned it into an art project! But potatoes did not help much when denominators and numerators differed and operations become complicated.

Cooking however is a very good method to teach fractions. How?

For simple fraction practice, simply follow a recipe.

For more advanced fraction, get your child to double or halve the recipe. Another practice is asking your child to figure out which measuring cups to use. For example, only make available a 1/4 cup measuring cup when baking a cake. Help your child figure out how many 1/4 cups go into each 1/2 and full cup. And so on.

Check my blog entry on Love Cookies to help with a quick recipe for giving your kids a lesson on fractions.


Decimals is the other thing that 10 year olds need to learn. Teach decimals from basic fractions.

Children will also work with decimals with money. If you give your child an allowance, you may want to give slightly different amounts. Vary the practice. Ask your child to add the decimals or subtract.

You can also show your child how to compute the tip at restaurant, which will practice decimals.

Cooking is again an excellent method. Change the recipe to decimals. Give your child the measuring cups and so on and he will need to translate the decimals to fractions.

You can use the same principle for other math basics.

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Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen

This blog is about kids in the kitchen and reaffirming the concept of kids and cooking and learning and teaching.

Children are beautiful creatures – a GIFT from GOD. They are cute and cuddly and naughty and mischievous and smart and quick witted all at the same time. Their character shows up everywhere – the kitchen is no exception.

Did you know that there was an experiment showing the difference in the level of enthusiasm between kids and adults? The adults were divided into 3 groups and asked to laugh and make as much noise as they could. The loudest group will win a prize. The groups took turns – guess who won – the last group. Adults tend to be self conscious, wait to see what happens or wait for a competition to show enthusiasm. The same exercise given to the children saw no difference in the behavior of the kids.

Kids don’t care who is watching. They love to let it go. This stage of growth is the best time to harness enthusiasm for all sorts of things – for food, for life, for success, for doing well, for confidence, for fun, for math, for geography, for music, for reading, for writing and just about anything.

Kids are experts at banging and smashing and ripping! This fantastic traits of children presents a great opportunity to turn them into mini chefs and at the same time to teach and help them develop both physically and mentally.

Cooking is a great tool to help children boost their cognitive and physical development.

Most of us parents don’t realize that these simple tasks in the kitchen which we take for granted, have tremendous benefits for our children. We don’t have to spend so much and take time out to send our kids to all sorts of activity centers. We have great centers in our homes – our kitchen has a wealth of tools and activities to help our kids grow and develop.

This is what young chefs can succeed in through cooking:

Two Year Olds
At this stage of growth, two year olds are learning their large muscles in their arms.
Build those muscles – the little chefs can scrub produce, tear greens, help mix ingredients

Three Year Olds
Three year olds are mastering hand control.
Build motor skills – the little chefs can mix batter, spread butter, knead dough

Four to five year olds
This age, kids are learning refined hand and finger control.
Refined control – Introduce the big little chefs to manual equipment like juicers, egg beaters and you can start teaching them to use measuring cups, pouring in mixtures or ingredients and how to do it without spilling

Six to ten year olds
Children this age can do a lot more and are impatient. They want to be busy and they are looking to show off and boast about their achievements. They have a lot of ideas at this age – allow them to experiment and show you. Build their self esteem. Give them a pat on the back even for the smallest thing. You will see a marked difference – guaranteed! Remember, Never, never criticize.

Self esteem – Allow them to do more intricate tasks that don’t include sharp or dangerous equipment. Crack eggs, decorate cakes, read out recipes, pour and mix and beat, measure.

Leave them to their imagination.

And Adults, ignore the mess – it’s worth it. I guarantee it.