As a parent stuck at home with your kids, you’re undoubtedly putting a lot of energy into keeping the little ones happy, well-fed, entertained, and educated. Ticking all of those boxes at once is a tall order. But have you ever considered how great something as simple as food can be as a teaching and learning tool?
That’s right! We’re all for showing your kiddos how to cook and help out in the kitchen, but this takes it one step further. With a little outside-the-cereal-box thinking, you’ll discover a range of lessons you can teach your kids through foods.
Curious about how you can make snack time and school lessons happen simultaneously in your own home? Check out these ideas for connecting ingredients and culinary traditions with subjects like history, math, culture, science, and more.
1. Practice Elementary Arithmetic Using Bite-sized Foods
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division fall into the category of elementary arithmetic. It’s easy to demonstrate these concepts using bite-sized foods like Perfect Bites — as long as you can wait until the subtraction lesson to eat them, that is!
When your little ones are ready to start their math homework, bring out the Perfect Bites (or marshmallows, pretzels, peanuts — whatever you have on hand!) to practice each arithmetic problem in a tastier and more tactile way.
2. Explain Fractions With Segmented Foods
Kids in school sometimes find math concepts abstract and hard to grasp. By using something that children understand, like food, you can help make a concept like fractions more tangible and meaningful. Several foods are especially well-suited to fractions. They start as a whole, representing the whole number 1, and can be evenly divided into several parts, representing fractions like ½, ¼, and so on.
To visually represent these concepts and teach fractions with food, choose segmented products like oranges or clementines, chocolate bars made up of little sections, or scored graham crackers. Most graham crackers can be broken into four pieces, oranges typically have 10 segments, and different chocolate bars are made up of eight or 12 rectangles. This means you can explore different denominators with each food type.
3. Demonstrate Fraction Arithmetic Using Recipes and Measuring Cups
Moving right along in math class, there’s more to explore in the realm of food-based fractions. Practically all recipes involve adding fractions together, and kids will understand that getting the balance right is important to a great-tasting end result.
For example, our Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie recipe calls for ½ cup of butter, ½ cup of brown sugar, and 1 ¼ cup of flour. You could add all of these up to find out the total amount. To get into multiplication and division, practice halving the recipe or — let’s be real — doubling it to serve more people.
You can also get out the measuring cups and the canister of flour to show how four ¼-cup scoops will result in the same amount of flour as a single 1-cup measurement, and how removing a ¼-cup scoop will leave you with ¾ cup of flour.
4. Explore Global Cultures Through Culinary Traditions
Schools sometimes host “heritage days” where students can share foods, traditional clothes, and customs from their ancestral regions or cultures they are studying in class. You can easily attempt a similar type of project if you’re at home with your family.
To start teaching food and culture together, invite each family member to pick a different region or culture and a specific food occasion, like “breakfast” or “birthdays.” From there, everyone can research their chosen culture and find out what people typically eat on that occasion. Even better, choose and prepare recipes to get a taste for that culture.
5. Discuss Geography and History Through a Single Flavor
Another way to approach global cultures through food is to look at the history of a particular ingredient or flavor. For this type of exploration, start with a bold spice like cumin or one of your kid’s favorite flavors like chocolate. Together, you can look into where that ingredient originates from and how it ended up in your pantry or fridge.
In many cases, you’ll end up exploring trade routes, colonization, and other historical events. Pull out a map and pin ingredients and spices onto different locations to illustrate how far and wide our food and flavors often travel. With more mature children, this type of study can lend itself to conversations around the more somber implications of these food histories and journeys.
6. Learn Languages Through Food
If your children are studying another language at school, you can bring those learning experiences to the kitchen at home. Consider helping your kids practice food-related vocabulary words by calling out the different food items in your fridge or on your grocery list.
To make this a little harder, try examining recipes written in different languages to get a handle on the verb commands — or have your kids translate your favorite family recipes into the other language. You and your children can even watch cooking shows and videos in different languages and try to pick out the words and phrases they’re using.
It’s also possible to work backward; plenty of non-English words have made it into our language through other cultures and the foods and ingredients they introduced us to. (Would the gang prefer an Italian frittata or a French quiche for Saturday brunch?)
7. Show Science in Action Through Food Experiments
There are so many amazing ways to teach science with food. For instance, most baked goods go through chemical reactions — the chemistry involved in baking a cake could be a science class in and of itself!
By following even the most basic recipes, you can teach your kids about all kinds of scientific principles. DIY popsicles demonstrate the three states of matter. A vinaigrette dressing can reveal density and molecular bonds. While preparing a meal or snack, you can even talk to your kids about basic nutritional biology — or how the micro- and macronutrients we eat keep our bodies running.
But to jazz things up, there are probably hundreds of edible science projects you can easily do at home. For instance, there’s the classic DIY rock candy experiment where a basic sugar syrup yields sugar crystals, demonstrating what happens with a supersaturated solution. Or, you can raise the stakes by creating impressive edible geodes using either chocolate or fondant for the shell. This can demonstrate a similar lesson but also gives you an avenue for exploring geological formations. (Food science rocks!)
Don’t Forget Perfect Snacks During Roll Call!
Whether your kids are hitting the math homework or rounding up some healthy study snacks, make sure you have their favorite Perfect Snacks on hand.
Our classic Perfect Bars, pint-sized Perfect Kids, and shareable Perfect Bites are “here!” for you. Made with organic nut butter, an amazing blend of superfood ingredients, and the most perfect flavor combinations around, they’re here to keep the whole family fueled up and ready to learn. Order a few boxes of your favorite flavors today and we’ll send them straight to your one-room schoolhouse — err, your kitchen, that is!