## Tuesday, March 4, 2014

### A Really Good Math Book

Turns out I have a really good math book at home.

 There's math inside!
As we were finishing up our unit on multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers, Rich and I decided it might be fun to do something other than grinding through more journal pages and worksheets.  I know there are loads of activities out there that use cooking and recipes to help build fraction concepts, but our little project was, at least for us, breaking new ground.  The idea was to copy some recipes (ones with nice combinations of whole numbers, fractions, and mixed numbers).  After choosing one they like, the kids would roll a die which would indicate whether they were to double, triple, quadruple, half, third, or quarter the recipe's ingredients.  They would show their calculations and results.

 We added another wrinkle: after finishing the calculations, you had to visualize and draw what the finished dish would look like.  I thought the kids would have fun trying to match the recipes with the pictures.
We got two days of solid work from the kids.  They were really engaged and excited.  There was a lot of opportunity for us to work with kids still struggling with the computation, and to place the work in a meaningful context.  And there were some side benefits:

• Working with different units of measure (cups, ounces, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc.)
• Vocabulary development.  Parsley, margarine, casserole, bouillonshortening, and rigatoni were a few of the words that groups had to google.
• Critical thinking.  This came into play when it came time to draw the dish.  Some were easy (brownies), some not so much (Chicken and Stuffing Casserole).  They had to read through the cooking directions very carefully to determine how each ingredient was used and how that would effect the look of the dish when it was finally prepared.
• Group work promoted meaningful communication.
At one point on the second day Rich and I were just standing in a corner of the room watching it all happen. "This is the way it should be," we decided.  "They're doing all the work."   We agreed it was something we need to try to recapture on a more regular basis.
And one boy insisted I copy the Butterscotch Squares and Italian Fried Chicken recipes for him to take home.