Preschool in the Kitchen: Teaching Your Child About Numbers

boy making cookies
Image via Mindi Stavish

Fall is my favorite time of the year to turn on the oven and start baking.  From apple pie to ginger snap cookies, I love it when my kitchen smells of fresh baked goods.  This fall I am even more excited to bake because my preschooler is old enough to help out more in the kitchen.  

Cooking and baking with children is a great hands-on learning experience.

Ever since my first child was old enough to stand on a step stool to reach the counter, I have involved him in the baking and cooking process.  As a toddler, he loved to stir the ingredients and lick the batter.  Let's be honest here, as a grown adult I want to lick the batter too!  Now he can follow directions better and his attention is improving in leaps and bounds.  These cognitive developments make kitchen time with mommy easier for the both of us.  

Spending time with your preschooler in the kitchen is a wonderful time to teach early math concepts. Check out these fun ways you can teach your child about numbers in the kitchen.

boy cooking
Image via Flikr/GoonSquashSarah

Following Directions 

With each new step in the directions, read them out loud, pausing to allow your child time to listen.  Wait for your child to chose the ingredient you read.  Emphasize the key words such as mix, beat, and measure.   Emphasize the words first, second, and third to show your child that you have to follow the exact directions while cooking.

preschool-in-the-kitchen-teaching-your-child-about-numbers-2
Image via Flickr/MRBECK

Measuring

Preschoolers love to talk about numbers.  When measuring out ingredients, teach your child about the different sizes of the measuring cups.  Show him or her the written numbers on the cup and play around with the conversions.  For an example, have your child measure out 1 cup of flour using a 1/2 cup measuring cup of flour and dump the scoops in a clear glass container.  Then let your child measure out 1 cup of flour using a 1-cup measuring cup, dumping the cup into another clear glass container.  Put the two containers side by side to demonstrate how the flour is the same amount in both containers.  Repeat this activity using different sized measuring cups to demonstrate bigger and smaller.  

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Visual timer app
Image via Visual Countdown Timer for Preschoolers app

Cooking Times

Teach your child about the importance of baking time, using a visual timer. I love to use the Visual Countdown Timer for Preschoolers app (as shown above) while cooking with my child.  He loves that he can select the picture that will appear when the cooking time is complete.

preschool-in-the-kitchen-teaching-your-child-about-numbers-4
Image via Flickr/anathea

 Sequencing 

Teach your child the sequence of steps that are important while baking by talking about each step along the way.  Pay special attention to big steps like preheating the oven, setting the timer, and removing the baked goodies from the oven when they are done.  While you wait for the baked treat to cook, review the steps with your child asking questions such as, “What did we put into the bowl first?

Check out these Learning Activities + Recipe for The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies for a free printable with photographs of the ingredients you need to make chocolate chip cookies to teach your child about sequencing while baking.  

What do you enjoy most about cooking with your little preschooler?  What delicious treats will you be baking this fall?

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Preschool in the Kitchen: Teaching Your Child About Numbers

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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2 comments

  1. Bethany says:

    My son loves to help me bake, so this will be a really easy way to incorporate the different aspects of math into learning without him realizing that he’s learning.

  2. sayhola says:

    Love the idea about the Visual Timer app! I will have to look for one on my phone. When I used to teach preschool, I used this one, but not very practical for a family home, considering the smallest one is $30! Other than the price, it’s a FANTASTIC tool: http://www.timetimer.com/

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