How Is Maths Evident In Children’s Everyday Lives?
When looking at different ways of supporting children’s learning it is important to ask the question, “how is maths evident in children’s everyday lives?”
If we incorporate this into natural discussions and living this will support what they are learning in formal settings.
One way to do this is to consider different areas of the home and then outside. In this article, I will concentrate on the kitchen.
My suggestions will be divided into KS1 and then KS2 and beyond. These are only rough guides.
Some pre-school children will be ready to try out some of the activities under Key Stage 1.
A child’s success isn’t based on where they start, but on where they finish. Continuing education is more important than learning something by a specific age, so don’t worry if your child isn’t able to do something that you expected them to, just gently guide them in the right direction and try to make it fun for both of you.
Maths in Children’s Everyday Lives in the Kitchen
Finding maths in the kitchen is perhaps the easiest and most obvious place to start so that is why I have chosen it for this article.
Counting – let’s start with counting.
There are endless things in the kitchen that you can count:
– Ingredients, jars tins, saucepans, cutlery, pasta pieces, and so on.
Then, you can use a multitude of questions rather than just asking children to count something. At other times you can just explain what you’re doing so that they hear appropriate vocabulary.
“How many eggs were there altogether?”
“How many eggs have I got left?”
“How many eggs have I used?”
” Auntie Sue and Jack are coming for dinner today. How many knives and forks will we need?”
“There are already 3 forks on the table. How many more do we need?”
Use inexpensive ingredients to experiment with making groups of different sizes.
“Using pasta pieces can you make me 3 groups of 4?”
“Now make me two groups of 6.”
“Which is the biggest? How do you know?”
These could be painted and then glued onto a piece of paper in appropriate groups and kept as evidence of an investigation, or just as a piece of artwork that the children like looking at.
Measuring is perhaps the most obvious thing to do in the kitchen that uses maths.
This could be part of a cooking activity or it could just be done on its own.
“Measure out 3 cups of flour.”
“How much does this egg weigh?”
“Add 300ml of milk.”
“Which is heavier, stevia or sugar?”
“Which spoon is the longest?”
The position is part of the maths curriculum for younger children.
“Please take out the top box.”
” I’m going to put the cake on the middle shelf.”
“Let’s put some icing on top of the cake.”
“Take the orange out of the box.”
” I’m going to eat half a muffin.”
“Let’s cut this apple into quarters.”
“I want to put this cake into 6 pieces. First I’m going to cut it in half, next I’m going to cut each half into 3 pieces so I’m going to cut it into thirds. This will give me 6 pieces altogether as 2 x 3 is 6.”
“Are there any cubes in the kitchen?”
“This rolling pin is a cylinder shape.”
“What shapes can you see in the Toblerone box?”
KS2 Children – and beyond
Have a look at the sections above. Some of the KS1 questions can be adapted for KS2
These suggestions and questions are just a very general guideline. You’ll need to adapt them depending on the age and ability of your child.
Make a shopping list and then estimate how much the total bill is likely to be.
“I’m going to get us two fish and one portion of chips. That should cost us £10.54. What change should I get from £20?”
“Here is £10. Go to the ice cream van outside and choose three different ice creams. Make sure it comes to less than £6 as I need £4 in change for the car park later tonight.”
“How many potatoes do you think we should cook for the four of us?”
“How much do they weigh?”
“What weighs the most – the cauliflower or the cabbage?”
“What’s the difference?”
“Is it cheaper to eat chips or baked potatoes?”
“How did you work that out?”
“Is there more fat in a pan au chocolat or an almond croissant?”
“What is the difference as a percentage?”
“Which of these soups has the greatest percentage of vegetables in it?”
“Which is better value- a multipack of 24 bags of crisps costing £4.15, or a 6-pack of crisps costing £1.05?”
“How much money could you save using a box of milkshake powder and milk compared with buying ready-made milkshakes?”
” How hot does the oven have to be?”
“How long does it usually take to heat up to that temperature?”
“Shall we time it?” ” Let’s guess and see who is nearest.”
“How long will it take to cook?”
“If I put it in at 3 when will it be ready?”
“If I want it to be ready by 6 when do I have to put it in the oven?”
“In what order should I put things into the oven, so that everything is ready by 7:30?”
Looking at labels on food can be a huge source of inspiration.
You can find the same sort of information on online shopping sites
Online shopping sites
Online shopping sites have huge amounts of data. You can spend quite a long time on any one product or do some comparisons.
As an example, on on on I’m going to look at a tin of Heinz vegetable soup on the Tesco website:
So here we have a photo and we can immediately start discussing the picture.
“What is the soup going to have in it, do you think?”
Then we can have a look at the offers.
“How much is each tin if you buy 4 of them?”
“How much is each tin if you buy by 8 of them?”
“How accurate is 24p for 100g for one tin?”
“Explain your answer.”
“Would you pay more for 7 tins or 8 tins?”
You’ll notice nutritional values like these on all foods in the UK.
In just this one little diagram we have weights, decimals, percentages, comparisons, ratios and conversions! No wonder some schools do whole topics around food labels.
These figures show the recommended maximum that any adult should eat within one day.
“If someone lived off soup for a day, how many tins should they eat as a maximum so as not to go over any of the recommended amounts?”
“Find a recipe for vegetable soup and compare the amount of salt that goes into a homemade recipe and a tin of soup. What do you notice?”
“What is 5% as a fraction?”
“What is the ratio of saturates to fats?”
Finally let’s have a look at the ingredients.
“How much water do you think there is in this can?” – you don’t have to know the answer to all the questions, you can just ponder some of them.
“Why don’t they give the percentage for all of the ingredients?”
“Do you think they ought to?”
“What is the ratio of tomatoes to peas by weight?”
“Could you make up a soup recipe and include the percentage of each ingredient?”
I’m sure that as you have been reading this article you will have been thinking of lots of ideas of your own and they will be the best ones.
Also, listen out for your children’s questions. They will be even more interested in exploring what possible answers are if they have come up with the question themselves.
Of course, their questions won’t sound quite like my one did.
They might be more like:
“Where is my cup?”
“Why is soup so runny?”
“Why don’t you cut bigger pieces of cake?”
“Can’t you add more salt when you’re cooking?” – ok this might be from an older person! But you could explore it as a family.
For adults: – a fascinating book