Saturday, November 23, 2013

Living Math ~ Learning about fractions while baking our daily bread

Can we really learn a subject like math in a natural way?

I want to tell you that yes, you can!

We do it in all sorts of ways, but today I wanted to share some of our recent experiences with learning math in the kitchen.

A really good friend of mine let me in on the secret to having yummy, crusty bread with dinner any time you want and baking it yourself. The secret? This book:

It's true. We now have delicious bread twice a week and it does not add to my ever-growing to-do list at all. It's simple. It really does take five minutes (or less). And, the best part is that I know exactly what I am feeding my family ~ yeast, sea salt, filtered water and good flours like organic rye and whole wheat and unbleached all purpose flour. No yucky chemicals or dough conditioners. No preservatives. Nothing yucky. Just mouth-watering, crusty bread to go with our soup and pasta nights. Perfect.

Okay, back to the subject at hand.


So, the recipes in the book help you to make enough dough at one time to make four loaves. In our family, I plan on having freshly baked bread about twice a week (once with home made soup and once with pasta) rather than four times a week. I could totally go ahead and make the dough for four loaves and bake the other two the following week, but I don't have a ton of room in my refrigerator to store the dough and I honestly enjoy the process of making the dough each week. So, I have to cut the recipe in half.

Enter ... living math and learning to halve fractions ... in your head.

Since this is now something that I do every week, I do not worry about always baking bread with the children. Often times I am making this up while they are playing outside or building things with legos. But, on occasion they are either playing in earshot or sometimes even want to get their hands in the game and make the dough. When the opportunity presents itself, I get them involved in the process, even if only by asking them to "help" me figure out quantities orally.

In the past week or two, such an opportunity presented itself twice.

The first time, the girls were both in the kitchen doing something and I was able to ask them to help me figure some things out. I was amazed at the Hippie's ability to do these equations in her head. She was able to tell me what half of 4 1/2 was and what half of 5 1/2 was without a problem. Now, those particular concepts kind of blew the Princess's mind on that day (and that is okay ... our brains are developmentally ready to tackle certain topics at certain times and she is not quite at the same developmental stages as her older sister). But, the Princess was able to tell me how many 1/4 cups we need to make 3/4 of a cup and how many 1/2 cups we need to make 2 cups. She was able to figure out that 1 1/2 tbsp is the same as 4 1/2 tsp.

And, she got the learning experience of helping me to actually make the dough.

Then, when I was going to prepare the dough this week, the Princess wanted to do it all herself. This time, we were one-on-one and as we walked through the recipe and talked about cutting each measurement in half, guess what? She was able to do those same calculations that a week prior had blown her mind. She did it in her head.

She told me that half of 1/2 was 1/4.
She told me that 1/2 of 3 was 1 1/2.
She told me that 1/2 of 5 1/2 was 2 3/4.
She told me that a tablespoon and a half was the same as 4 1/2 teaspoons and that half of that was 2 1/4 teaspoons.

And, she made bread from start to finish on her own.

Who says you can't learn math without a prescribed scope and sequence that someone else devised and placed in a workbook? 

Until next time,

~ Irie Momma

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