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Why not get into the holiday spirit by baking cookies and learning math at the same time?
By using the following gingerbread man recipe (or any recipe, really), you can incorporate math concepts with a festive, hands-on activity.
- Gather all materials and ingredients (listed below).
- Make the cookies with your class, calling on student volunteers to measure and add the various ingredients. Give everyone a chance to stir.
- While you’re mixing and measuring, discuss the measurements with your students: “If we need 1 ½ cups of flour, what are some ways I could measure this out using the measuring cups?” Students may respond by using the measuring cups for 1 cup along with the ½ cup.
- Now challenge the students to think of ways to measure the flour if you did not have the measuring cup for 1 cup: “Could we still make the cookies if we didn’t have the measuring cups for 1 cup nor the ½ cup? What if you only had the measuring cup for ¼ cup?” Explain to your students that these are real world situations that you may run into when cooking. Sharing your own stories of when you used math to cook will make the activity even more relevant and memorable.
- After you make the dough (and chill it according to the recipe, below), give each student a piece of wax paper for their desk. Add a small amount of flour to the wax paper and then give each student a small ball of dough. They can press the dough (or take turns using rolling pins to roll it out) to 1/8-inch thickness (they can even use their rulers to measure!) before cutting out their gingerbread man.
- You can either ascertain permission to use the kitchen’s oven to bake the cookies at school (a parent volunteer is helpful to take the cookies to and from the kitchen while you stay with your class in the classroom), or you can take the cookies home to bake them and bring them back. (To make sure each student gets his or her own cookie back, label foil-lined cookie sheets with students’ names in permanent marker, and place each child’s cookie on the foil by his/her name).
- medium mixing bowl
- mixing/stirring spoons
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- baking sheet
- cooking spray
- gingerbread man cookie cutter
- wire racks
- decorative containers/bags to store finished cookies in
Gingerbread Men Recipe (from Allrecipes.com):
*Yields: 2 ½ dozen (Calories 79, Total Fat: 3.3g per serving)
* Time: total of about 1 hour & 40 minutes
• 1 (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks.
Kelli Lewis is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.