Monday, February 21, 2011

as Julia Child would say, you never have enough butter...

One of my favourite lessons - the Crazy Cookies lesson!

I want to introduce the idea of measurement and its importance, and - as always :-)  - I want the lesson to be sufficiently memorable to make the concepts stick.

I start off by having the children try on various coats and shoes, and then identify which ones fit and which ones don't, and we ask questions that lead them to discover the importance of size and measurement (and that the numbers on their clothing tags have a meaning).

I move on to discussing the idea of measurements in cooking recipes. The children already know that recipes contain ingredients and usually have some idea that the quantities of each ingredient may be important.

So, to help make all of this clearer and more memorable, we bake some cookies! In fact, we bake two sets of cookies, with the same ingredients in both - but one set follows the measurements in the recipe, and the other... doesn't!

So, I start off by having a circle with the kids and describing the lesson plan, then I ask the children which group they'd prefer to be in - the one that follows the recipe measurement, or the one that doesn't.

Since we have two groups mixing ingredients, I read out the ingredients and quantities. I then show the measured group how to measure out the ingredients. The other group discusses how much they want to use of each ingredient before measuring it out.

As you can imagine, the kids have a lot of fun mixing the ingredients!

Soon enough, it's time to bake the cookies. One set - the measured set - already looks like normal cookies, while the non-measured ones look more like... something else.

We take the cookie trays to the school cafeteria, where we put the measured tray in the oven for the right amount of time (10 minutes), and of course the non-measured cookies get a little more (we wouldn't want to risk having them be under-done).

And so we have two sets of cookies, with the same ingredients, but with one following the measurements in the recipe and the other... not.

Each child gets one of each, to sample the result. There is always much discussion! Each child also gets a set of cookies to take home, so some of the parents get to see the result of our experiment (not all of them, because the cookies don't always make it home!)

Of course, we write about the cookies, and each child writes about which recipe they prefer, and why.

That's as far as we take the cookery-based lesson. We continue to talk about other aspects of measurement - temperature, furniture sizes and dimensions, height and weight - using the story of Goldilocks. 

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