As a homeschooling family, you have the unique ability to incorporate everyday life skills into a homeschool lesson. You could strictly teach kids how to cook and bake in your homeschool or you could branch out and teach through cooking to expand the kitchen lessons further.
No matter what grade you’re teaching, sneaking some culinary coursework into your child’s day is a great way to make learning fun, useful, and memorable. We did a lot of cooking and baking when we read Blueberries for Sal using the Before Five in a Row Curriculum. Incorporate some of these ideas into your upcoming lesson plans to spice up your classroom – literally!
Nutrition Lesson at the Grocery Store
Have your child help you make their own meal plan for the week that includes healthy, balanced meals that the whole family will enjoy. With resources from the My Plate Kids’ Place website, you can easily create a simple lesson on nutrition into your weekly meal plan. Let them use a recipe book if they need help finding varied meals.
Then, bring them to the grocery store so they can buy their food for the week. You can extend the learning further with a grocery store trip to let your child select ingredients for their chosen recipes
Multiplication and Division for Serving Sizes
As you and your student prepare a recipe, teach them how to scale it to accommodate more or fewer servings. They’ll need to use multiplication or division to figure out how much of each ingredient they’ll need, so keep a pen and some paper on hand. This is also a great time to go over fractions with them – not all measurements are listed in whole, easy numbers!
Fractions Through Measurements
Have your child add ingredients to their mixing bowl using the wrong measuring cups. Using their problem-solving skills and understanding of fractions, they’ll figure out how to add the right amounts using the tools they’re given.
This was exactly how I was able to finally grasp fractions as an adult. Whenever I translated math into baking or monetary terms it always just made more sense to me. This could work with your child too, so give it a try and see if those concepts are better solidified through tangible, hands-on experiences.
Explore Color Theory with Food Coloring (and cupcakes)
Grab some white frosting and food coloring for a hands-on art lesson! Getting hands-on in the kitchen is a great way to teach color theory and create your own color wheel with primary and secondary colors.
Scoop the frosting into bowls, and let your child make secondary and tertiary colors with the dye. Then, help them pair complementary colors with one another. When you’re done with your lesson, use the bowls of colorful frosting to frost cupcakes or make a Pride rainbow cake pops.
Promote Fire Safety Awareness in the Kitchen
As a child of the eighties, one of the most terrifying but memorable public service announcement commercials was the Shriner’s Hospital sponsored one featuring Bugs Bunny.
You don’t have to resort to such dramatic tactics to get your point across with your children, though older kids will probably enjoy watching the retro video for laughs if nothing else. The sentiment however is serious and important.
Household appliances can cause fires, and your child should know what to do if one ever occurs. They should also know how to prevent one in the first place, especially if they’re old enough to use the appliances. Teach what not to put in the microwave and how to keep themselves from getting burned while cooking.
This may also be a good opportunity to go over your household fire safety plan and incorporate that as a homeschool lesson each year during Fire Safety Month in October.
Tools to Help Teach Chemistry Through Cooking
After you’ve made lunch, use some leftover ingredients to perform some cool science experiments! Younger kids could use magnets to see if there’s iron in their corn flakes, while older kids can separate eggs from their shells using vinegar.
Teach World Cultures and Religions Through Cooking
Help your child create an authentic meal from a country they’re learning about. Make sure they’re not using Americanized (or simply westernized) ingredients in their dish! If your child is learning about different religions, they can prepare a meal for a hypothetical person on a kosher or halal diet.
Play the Recipe Converter Game
Ok, it’s not really a game, game but…
Rather than teaching temperature through worksheets and arbitrary word problems, grab some recipes from your favorite European food bloggers and work together to make the necessary temperature and measurement conversions. This will help your kids learn the difference between Celsius vs Fahrenheit and how to convert one to the other. (The fastest way to do this is to multiply the Celsius number times 1.8 and then add 32 degrees.)
Shopping Smart with Division
Do your kids know how to spot the best deals at the food store? As you go shopping with them, show them products with different prices and a different amount of product in them. Using their division skills, they’ll identify the least expensive option. Clip coupons before your shopping trip for math lessons, create a grocery budget and help your child figure out product and serving sizes vs value for the money. These are life lessons that you can easily incorporate each week in your homeschool.
Teach Through Cooking for a Well-Rounded Homeschool Lifestyle
At the end of the day, cooking and baking are important skills to learn. They don’t always need to be tied to a separate lesson plan to be built into your homeschool curriculum! If you are however, looking for a set curriculum with lesson plans, Your Kids: Cooking! by Barbara Brandt is a fantastic resource. With easy to follow instructions, a DVD and tips, tricks and techniques, it puts your child in the driver’s seat toward creating fun family meals for the whole family.
There are so many reasons to add the culinary arts to your lesson plans. Teach through cooking and you turn it into a valuable learning experience, even if you’re doing most of the cooking. When kids help in the kitchen, they learn skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives!
When you make the world your classroom, you can teach your children core subjects and life skills at the same time. Even if you don’t lead a field trip every day, you have more opportunities to create hands-on experiences than the average teacher.
The idea of homeschool for our family is that it is a lifestyle, not just an education at home. Everything that we do, every choice we make and even the vacations that we take have elements of learning weaved in. As life-long learners of all ages, we embrace the homeschool lifestyle as a way of living, doing, and being rather than a block of tasks and activities each day.