Pop quiz. This summer, which question will your kids be more likely answer ‘yes’ to? “Hey kids, do you want to help me bake some brownies?” Or: “Hey kids, do you want to practice your math skills so they don’t get too rusty this summer?”

I’m guessing that a whole lot more kids will jump at the chance to bake brownies over practicing math. But guess what? Now they don’t have to choose, nor will they want to, thanks to author and teacher, Ann McCallum, of Kensington, Maryland.

McCallum and Illustrator Leeza Hernandez have found a clever way to turn math drudgery into deliciousness with their brand new book, Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds (see below for how to win a copy of the book.)

McCallum explains, “When I first pondered how we could think beyond the ‘drill and kill’ of boring homework sheets, I was a teacher in a middle-class elementary school in Maryland. I knew from my home life that my own two children loved creating in the kitchen. Was it possible to pair something as nurturing and fun as cooking with school math? I tried a project at school: Mathematical Gingerbread Houses. The experience was so successful that I decided to take it further. I began to develop healthy, food-related math projects to help children develop a fundamental understanding of basic math concepts—while having fun in the process.” The kids ate it up.

Each section of the book, directed toward kids ages 7 to 11, includes an algorithm, or a step-by-step recipe, for making a tasty math project. While making Fibonacci Snack Sticks, kids are introduced to Leonardo Fibonacci, the Italian mathematician who popularized the now-famous Fibonacci sequence.  Then, readers can whip up a batch of Fraction Chips to demystify numerators and denominators, or make a Variable Pizza Pi to learn about the circumference and diameter of circles.

For kids who already love math, the projects and “Math Appeteasers” in the book offer a creative outlet to dig deeper. For kids who find math intimidating, the book is a hands- on (and mouth-on) way to make patterns, geometry and probability less mysterious.

McCallum shares her recipe for Tessellating Two-Color Brownies, below.  “A tessellation is a pattern of repeating shapes, or polygons, that extend in all directions and that fit together exactly with no gaps or overlays,” according to Eat Your Math Homework.  Your kids will have almost as much fun sprinkling the powdered sugar onto the brownies and making patterns out of the brownies as they will eating them.

To be eligible to win a copy of Eat Your Math Homework, please leave a comment below telling us how your kids have used or plan to use math in the kitchen this summer. Leave your comment by Friday, July 8th at 11:59 PM PST, and we will choose a winner using Random.org by Monday, July 11th. US mailing addresses only. One entry per person. Good luck!   Contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winnners Martina, Donna and Jen!

Recipe: Tessellating Two-Color Brownies

  • Prep Time: 5 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 12 min(s)
  • Total Time: 17 min(s)
  • Servings: 48 brownies

A fun recipe with a lesson.

Ingredients

    • ½ cup butter or margarine at room temperature, plus extra for pan
    • ½ cup orange juice (secret ingredient!)
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 ½ cups sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup flour, plus extra for pan
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Instructions

    • Ask an adult to preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
    • Place all the ingredients except the powdered sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Use a large, sturdy spoon (or an electric mixer if you like) to mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
    • Prepare the pan to prevent the Tessellating Brownies from sticking. Put some margarine or butter into the pan and spread it around using a paper towel. Dust a spoonful of flour on top of the margarine and tilt the pan back and forth so a thin layer of flour sticks to the margarine.
    • Spoon the dough into the pan. Ask an adult to place the pan in the oven.
    • Have an adult remove the brownies from the oven after about 12–15 minutes, when the edges are slightly browned. To test for doneness, poke a toothpick in the middle of the brownies and then pull it out. There should be no gooey dough sticking to it.
    • Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Then turn the pan upside down on a cooling rack to remove the brownies.
    • Use the knife to cut the large rectangle carefully in half to make two smaller rectangles. Sprinkle the powdered sugar onto one half of the brownies only.
    • Cut the powdered portion into squares. Then carefully cut each square diagonally to form two triangles.
    • Cut the unpowdered side of the brownies the same way: first squares, then triangles.
    • Take one powdered triangle and one plain triangle and place them together to make a rectangle. Continue the tessellation by alternating one powdered triangle with one plain triangle. If you like, you can make a tessellating design like the fish.

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  • Jennifer Kane

    We use measuring cups to talk about fractions with my 6 and 8 year old.

  • Stacy Marie

    Following a pizza recipe by using fractions with measuring cups and spoons…..and hiding a few so we have to use a 1/2 cup instead of a cup…and so on.
    Also, by deciding if it’s going to be rectangle or round, how we are slicing the pie when it’s done and what fraction was “eaten” if there are any left overs. Yum!

  • Stefania Cunningham

    We’re using food to work on estimating with my 6 year old. She’ll grab a handful of something and estimate then count! Pretzels, chocolate chips…anything!

  • Joy Cho

    The kids, ages 6 and 8, help me cook…making measurement and doubling recipes.

  • Janel

    My kids are 5 & 8 and they definitely help measure things out in the kitchen. My 8 yr old did fractions this year so he understands it better than the 5 yr old ;)

  • Jen

    My girls just turned 3 and we use baking and cooking as counting practice. 3 scoops of flour for muffins and so on.

  • cathering

    We do this at home – my 10 year-old makes dinner (supervised) for the family about once a month. We talk about measurments and how to double or halve them, and why certian ingredients (example: levenings) do what they do.

  • cheryl jackson

    my son and i love to bake cookies. we’ve used the book
    “the doorbell rang” as a model for thinking about how to divide our finished bounty between different numbers of people (i.e. mom and son; mom, son and dad; mom, son, dad and granny; etc)

  • Lisa

    We’ve been cutting fruit and veggies into halves and quarters and thirds, then using them to practice addition and subtraction by creating word problems. For example, if we cut two apples into thirds, how many apple pieces will we have? How many pieces will we each get? I like this because it’s easy to do “on the fly” and doesn’t always require a whole kitchen activity to reinforce basic math concepts.

  • Jen D.

    Wow, what a great idea for a book! I would love to incorporate the ideas shared into our kitchen this summer, and share the resource with my students and their families next year.

  • Mary Jane Fitzpatrick

    My son will be 10 years old this week and he loves math and science. When he cooks at home we call it “The science of cooking”. He practices his math skills with the measuring of the ingredients and his science/chemistry by learning why and how things change with temperature and different spices.

  • the holly

    love this! i’m currently a math teacher. in the kitchen, my 6, 4 and 2 year olds practice counting as we pour in ingredients and stir (they each get a certain number of counts stirring), fractions and division as we divide dough into certain percentages. math is so practical and fun in the kitchen!

  • Cindy Fraser

    Pizza Pi !

  • Monique

    My six-year old weighs everything at the grocery store and at home with our food scale! Building math vocabulary seems to equal success in learning basic add/subtract equations.

    i concur with Jen – an excellent idea for a book or even a series!

  • Amy D

    I have an almost 4 year old. Counting the number of things she has eaten, then how many are left (adding and subtracting).Just beginning with fractions.

  • Heather

    My 5 year old has been helping with cooking and baking in the kitchen for a few years now. We practice counting of course and I’ve been introducing fractions, addition, and multiplication through recipes. At this point I’m more interested in exposure than anything else, so when it’s formally introduced in class she’s got a few reference points already. It’s also great for introducing chemistry as well as reading, esp. if you can get them their own cookbooks – Pretend Soup is one she loves.

  • ann

    My 3 kids are a constant in the kitchen. We are always doubling or halving recipes, counting and weighing… nothing better than math and munchies;-)

  • Jenna

    My 9 year old stepson and I love to bake together and we always talk about fractions when measuring ingredients.

  • Martina

    Use use M&Ms or trail mix to practice graphing. My daughter will grab a handful, separate by color or type of food, and make a graph from the pieces before eating them.

  • Heather

    Using math in the kitchen is about the ONLY way my 13yo son enjoys the subject. He hates math, but Loooooves to eat! I’ve hidden my big measuring cup and we’ve been converting mixed fractions to improper fractions, fractions to decimals and vice versa. He knows when we are done the reward is more than just a good grade…it’s a full stomach :)

  • Christina

    We worked on fractions and multiplication when challenging our child to double a cake recipe. Bonus lesson in temperature, since it was discovered that there is no way to double that to achieve 700 degrees. ;)

  • Kyndra

    Although my son is not yet in school (He’ll be 4 in November), he helps me cook dinner in the kitchen sometimes. He does love to count and I’ll have him place out the forks and knives to set the table. Sometimes he even gets the bonus of putting out some fruit (like grapes), and when he eats one, I try to encourage “Now, there were 5 grapes on that plate, how many are there now that you ate one?”

  • http://www.bitchinnutrition.com Brooke/ Bitchin’ Nutrition

    What a great idea! I remember when, my eighth grade teacher gave us a package of M&Ms to use on our final exam and I loved it!

  • Debra

    We love to cook and always include the kids. Math is there as we measure, double or halve the recipe, figure out how much we’ll need to feed the number of people we have, how many recipes we can get out of the container of an ingredient and much more! We love to cut sandwiches up into different shapes and fractions, too!

  • Jen

    My daughter is only two, but can identify if there are one (“Bunny outside!”), two (“Two bunnies outside!”), or more than two things (she just counts to ten). So far, we’re working on simple concepts, like breaking her Fig Newmans in half or scooping oats into a bowl to make oatmeal.

  • Suzanna F.

    My two boys (ages 4 and 7) help me with baking (measuring), making pizza for lunch (they each get to cover ½ – how much is ½?), or counting out how many grapes they can put on their lunch plate. However, we don’t limit our math to the kitchen over the summer. I will often do “pop quizzes” as we are driving around. I’ve also found that having my oldest focus on math problems while getting a splinter out (or shots) is a great way to keep him from getting tensed/worried!

  • sara

    We will use math in the kitchen this summer by creating and making our own recipes. This book looks great!

  • Rosie

    We graph what we eat, sort our pantry, measure when we cook and take a census or survey when we eat for likes and dislikes. Love math in the kitchen. Great idea for a book.

  • Faith

    My 4 1/2 year old son loves to help me measure and stir everything. He measures the water or flour, stirs and then divides up the mixture into containers–trying to make it even. Then we count and see how many containers we filled and how many kids there are….he loves to count and decide how much everyone gets. This book looks awesome, teaching without kids feeling like they are being “taught” something–I love it!!

  • Fizza

    My kids have been helping pack. Before we seal up the boxes we count everything that’s in them and then count up all the boxes. We’ve also been teaching division by making our boys “share” things and halving candy or a plate of potato chips.

  • Carla

    My oldest boy likes to bake, so he helps me count ingredients as we get them out, then he helps me measure as we pour them into the bowl (yesterday we couldn’t find the 1/3 c. measure, so we used a 1 c. measure and filled it 1/3) and then he counts his stirs as he combines ingredients. I love that he loves baking, and he’s learning simple math concepts. He’s 3.5

  • Angela P

    When my sister was very little, my dad would give her chocolate chips if she would count them. She could hardly talk but would say “chips” in the cutest voice. He would then count out 5 chocolate chips over and over with her. It is a great memory I have of them together, she is all grown up now and a pastry chef! I, of course, carried on this tradition with my own children, but both of my girls’ favorite counting food was blueberries!

  • http://www.michellehenninger.com Michelle Henninger

    My 7 year old loves to help in the kitchen. My favorite thing is to keep her on her toes when we DOUBLE a recipe. Yup. She knows her fractions well after baking with me!

  • EA

    We’ll definitely be making this recipe. I have two kids who enjoy math but don’t like helping in the kitchen all that much. I ask them to help but rather than focusing on the chore of cooking, I try to keep it casual and interesting — have them read the steps to a recipe for me and show them the step-by-step results as we go from start to finish in a dish.

  • http://www.SigningwithLara.com Lara Molettiere

    We are using the kitchen this summer to learn numbers and practical skills like dumping, wiping, and stirring! We count cups, tsp, tbs, and cheerios!

  • Severina A.

    It is never too early to start playfully practicing math with your children. I have my 4 year old “count out” snack crackers for her and her 2 year old brother. I also have them help me count ingredients (such as eggs) for their favorite cookie recipes. I can’t wait to get them even more involved with math in the kitchen as they get older!!!!

  • April W.

    I admit that when it comes to cooking (something I tend to dislike), I don’t involve the kids much. I would really like to change that, and with my kids ADORING math as much as they do, it sounds like this book is PERFECT for all of us! :D I’m bookmarking this page, and even if I don’t win, I’ll probably purchase a copy of the book later, ’cause it looks so darn fun!
    The hands on aspect is such a wonderful tool; I bet it’ll help our youngest, too! Thanks for the ideas!

  • Amy S.

    My 4 year old son loves to help in the kitchen by counting and measuring ingredients and counting down the time on the timer. He also helps at the grocery store by counting the eggs to make sure there are still 12 in a dozen.

  • Nancy F

    I have a cookbook where the ingredients are measures in grams. When we find something we want to make, we first convert grams to English measurements (cups, tsp, etc.)

  • Tari

    My almost 4 yr old practices measuring and counting the ingredients when she helps me cook.

  • Jennifer Hamner

    We use round objects (pizza, tortillas, etc.) to talk about whole, halves, quarters, eighths, etc.

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  • Jennifer Knotsmed

    We use math with our 3 year old in the kitchen by counting down with the microwave, how many cookies go on a sheet, how many fruits and veggies we put in the juicer, and we constantly compare food to shapes using geometry :)

  • Patricia ONeill

    Baking and cooking is a great way to practice both math and reading skills. You can have your child read the recipe and then measure out the ingrediants. To make it more challenging, double or triple the receipe and let your child figure out the measurements (eg; 3/4 of a cup times 2 would be 1 1/2 cups).

  • Donna DeLong

    My two year old often asks for food to be cut in half.

  • Daz

    Great idea for a book. We usually double our sweet recipes so my son gets hands on experience with adding and multiplying fractions and whole numbers for 1/3 cup, 1 1/2 teaspoons, tablespoons, pounds. Last month he had a maths test and one question was about a recipe and he got it right but some kids who hadnt cooked sadly couldn’t manage it.

  • Amy C.

    What a brilliant idea! Thanks to Aviva for sharing the title of this book in the latest issue of The Scramble. I’m pregnant with my first child, but I can’t wait to get it for my two little nieces, who are just old enough to start learning how to count. My oldest niece, age almost 3, loves grapes (especially ones from my plate!), and I plan to ask her to start counting out grapes in order to eat them. :-)

  • Dean

    We will have our kids double a recipe on paper before preparing it.

  • https://powertheyouth.org LaToniya A. Jones

    Food always works for helping kids understand concepts. Minds thinking, hands moving, tasty treats and quality family learning time!

  • Virginie

    My daughter (who just turned 3), counts the raspberries or pitted black olives by putting them on the tip or her fingers and each time she eats one we count them again. Also I have her scoop out 3 spoons of oatmeal in the bowls in the morning. She loves helping and does math without flash cards ;)

  • Yvie

    I am obsessed with this cookbook! It will make a perfect gift for my 2nd grade daughter who LOVES to cook! Pairing this book with Alice’s tips for starting a cooking club could be a nice way to “start small.” I am also a special education teacher in the primary grades and cannot wait to share this treasure with my students’ families! Thanks for sharing this Aviva!

  • Tammy D.

    We start at the grocery store with a budget and a mission…plan on making a cake for 15 people on a budget of $10. This teaches money management and calculating quantities. Baking allows us to practice fractions, addition and multiplication (doubling recipes). Cutting the cake teaches them division (and planning ahead!). And of course sharing it with friends in the end teaches everything else important!

  • KJS

    We are often changing the amount from what the recipe calls for, so it gives us a chance to discuss doubling or halving (usually). Plus, it’s great for reading skills because we have the kids read each instruction for us before we do the step.

  • Jen

    We multiply fractions when doubling / tripling recipes and sometimes work on converting English measurements to metric.

  • lauri carlsen

    As a kid I struggled with math but cooking made sense to me. So I have taught my kids math through cooking so they can relate to it in the classroom. I still get stumped at a store then think about it in measurements.

  • Donna Norman

    This summer I plan to encourage all my kids to learn to cook and measure ingredients.

  • lori Wrankle

    My 10 year old daughter struggled with math this school year so we got her in the kitchen making pancakes, crepes and brownies. The fractions were improved upon almost immediately and the understanding of real numbers applied to real life situations were instant! I would love this book in my home and kitchen!!!

  • http://www.mealplanningmagic.com Brenda T.

    We use measuring cups to reinforce fractions. How many 1/4 cups to we need to make a 1 cup? When my children were younger and learning their numbers we just used to count out what we were adding to a recipe. This looks like a great book!

  • Emma

    My preschoolers love learning about measuring, fractions, division, and of course all the subtraction of eating our results!

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