Opportunities for counting, measuring and calculating abound in the kitchen. In my family, lemonade is a regular summertime treat when we have friends and family over. Our favorite recipe is designed to make 1 gallon of lemonade–enough for quite a big crowd!
The Recipe: Mix together 2 cups sugar and 1 cup hot water until the sugar dissolves. Mix in 2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Add enough cold water (about 12 cups) to make 1 gallon of lemonade. Pour over ice and garnish with lemon slices and sprig of mint.
The littlest kids can help with the making of the lemonade. Use 1-cup measuring cups, so they can practice their counting.
Slightly older kids can think about how the quantities would change to make smaller amounts of lemonade. For example, what if you want to make ½ gallon? What if you want to make ¼ gallon (also known as 1 quart)? What if you want to make ⅛ gallon (also known as 1 pint)?
For older kids, more complex calculations can come into play. How many lemons do you need? It turns out that 1 large lemon gives you about ¼ cup of lemon juice. How many large lemons will you need to make 1 gallon? What if you open your ‘fridge, and discover that you have exactly 2 large lemons? How much lemonade can you make with just 2 large lemons? What if you want to have a lemonade stand? What is the cost of ingredients in each cup of lemonade?
Cooking from recipes is a great way to engage in hands-on fraction arithmetic. And remember, don’t get too tied to remembering “da rules.” Just help your child think through it. Ask questions like, what do we know? What do we need to find out? How are these related? Have fun. Tinker with the actual physical amounts. He/she will likely figure it out, eventually.
Think about it, when faced with the prospect of sharing a package of colored candies fairly, even the youngest kids can manage this without knowing anything formal about division.
About the author: Trisha Bergthold has been the middle school math teacher at Casa di Mir Montessori School since 2014. She holds a PhD in mathematics with emphases in curriculum and pedagogy. Prior to her work at Casa di Mir, she designed curriculum for kindergarten through college level. She also taught university-level mathematics courses for sixteen years.
Related article: Casa di Mir Summer Math: Adventure #1