Thanksgiving prep can help take the fear out of fractions

Every November, Americans across the country undertake some of the most intense mathematics practice of the year: preparing the Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The holiday season is great time to work with kids on fractions in a practical, hands-on way, say the consultants at Marshall Cavendish Education.

cooking kids

Using fractions in the real world

“Between doubling 1/3 cup of chicken broth and measuring out a 2/3 teaspoon of salt, Thanksgiving dinner preparations provide great examples for young children about how we use math in our everyday lives,” says Christopher Coyne, a senior education consultant at Marshall Cavendish Education, a global provider of holistic educational curricula. “It’s also an innovative, visual way to learn complex mathematics principles and learn to stay positive about math.”

Recipes — for everything from pumpkin pie to gravy — include fractions as part of the ingredient measurements. Fractions are, as one mathematics professional explained, one of the most difficult math concepts for students to learn, and for educators to learn how to teach.

Here are some recommendations for educators and parents who want to use Thanksgiving as a practical way to help teach fractions:

1) Have students create their own recipes for a signature Thanksgiving dish. Create a cooking experience during math class by working with students to create their own signature dish, making sure to use the accurate fractions in the recipes.

2) Find kid-friendly Thanksgiving dinner recipes. Get an extra set of hands in the kitchen when preparing Thanksgiving Day dinner by letting children measure out the ingredients. It may be messy, but it is a perfect way to show children a practical application of what they are learning in math class, as well as a way for them to understand the importance of accurate calculations.

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3) Allow your children to “double” a recipe. Feeding a large group this year? Have your elementary school student calculate the fractions to double your famous stuffing recipe. Check their work when you measure out the ingredients. Educators can send some sample recipes home with their students before the holiday break.

4) Play with your food. As your child enjoys his Thanksgiving feast, ask him how much of his plate is turkey versus side dishes by dividing the food into different sections. Or have your child help divide up the pumpkin pie by helping cut it into slices that will feed everyone. This will provide a visual representation of fractions that can be applied to math class and will get your family in the practice of talking through complicated math problems.

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