When we integrate numeracy into all areas of the curriculum, it enhances a student’s understanding of every subject, as well the world around them. Growing and preparing food is not only fun, but it provides hands-on learning opportunities that easily incorporate numeracy into healthy eating education and the development of life skills.
For primary students, parents can use snack time to practice patterning and counting by making fruit kabobs. They can incorporate some simple discussions about fractions when segmenting an orange or cutting a bagel in half, and there’s no better way to practice measurement than asking children to help measure ingredients when preparing recipes.
Students in junior grades can do calculations to modify a recipe (e.g., half a recipe or double a recipe) and they can help with measuring the ingredients. To increase difficulty, parents can remove a measuring tool. For example, remove the 1 cup measuring cup and help them figure out how many ⅓ or ½ cups are needed to make 1 cup.
With spring here, junior and intermediate students can map out a backyard or balcony garden by calculating the total area of their garden, choosing seeds, and then using the spacing guidelines for the seeds to calculate how many of each seed can be planted per row, and how many rows their garden can hold. They can even draw a diagram of their garden on graph paper.
Intermediate students can pick a favourite dinner recipe and then calculate the cost of the needed ingredients by looking at a grocery store website that lists prices online. They can also calculate the price per serving by dividing the total cost by the number of servings the recipe makes. Doing this with a second recipe will allow them to do a cost comparison. They may also notice cost differences amongst particular ingredients. As a bonus, students can also plan their favourite menu based on a sample budget.