Little Sous Chefs’ Skill School #2: MEASURE UP!🥄 (cups, spoons, scale)

“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.”

Julia Child

Welcome! Thanks for taking a peek in our kitchen! If you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed of our Cooking Skill School so far:


Cooking Week, Day Two: MEASURE UP!

Skip the fact sheets today and measure up with us in spoons, cups, and on a scale! There is so much math in a kitchen for our kids to get their little hands on. Plus, where else can they EAT their lesson once they’re done?

SKILL SUPPLY LIST:

  • dry goods: flour, rice, beans, split peas, or lentils
  • water
  • two tiny pitchers/creamers (for kids under four)
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • kitchen scale
  • kitchen conversion chart like this one here
  • fraction manipulatives (optional, but highly recommended for kids six and up)

VOCABULARY TO INTRODUCE:

  • measuring terms: teaspoon, tablespoon, “level-off”, full, heaping
  • fraction terms: part, whole, 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/8
  • scale terms: weigh, density, “zero” or “tare” a scale, grams, ounces, milliliters, pounds

~EXPLORING + POURING (for littles)~

Measuring may be too difficult a concept for kids under three or four. But that doesn’t mean we have to leave them out of the fun going on in the kitchen! We can let them discover pouring and spooning and allow them to experiment “cooking” with dry ingredients.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) A great way to introduce our toddlers and preschoolers to measuring is first to let them simply explore the collection of measuring cups and spoons. One of my favorite “busy tasks” for both our kids as toddlers was to let them “cook” with the measuring cups and spoons plus a bowl of water and another empty bowl. This activity has a magical effect on littles. If you haven’t tried it already, I highly recommend it.

2.) Casually, as your child is exploring the measuring instruments, name each one: teaspoon, tablespoon, half tablespoon . . . etc. Don’t worry about whether your child retains this lesson or is able to name them back to you. That will come about organically if this activity is repeated from time to time.

3.) Prepare a “Pouring Tray” for kids under four to practice transferring rice or water. The set up is simple: two very small pitchers/creamers, one empty, and one filled with either rice or water.

4.) Take the tray outside, or to a table top . . . just know that rice or water will end up all over the table and floor wherever you choose to do it 😅. We always vacuum or wipe down as a bonus skill school activity following this tray.

5.) Let your toddler or preschooler pour her little heart out!


~SPOONS~

Children may begin learning the concepts of measuring as early as four or five years old. For kids under the age of six, you may choose to omit the introducing of the fraction manipulatives at this time . . . although I always recommend casually introducing advanced concepts as early as possible, in a completely non-pressured atmosphere, of course. Even if it seems that a child is not understanding, we can trust that our words and demonstrations are laying the groundwork for a repeated lesson later on. I am daily astounded by what skills and concepts our kids show they have picked up when I am faithful to organically introduce things to them that are “above” grade or skill level.

Our two-year-old “measuring wif poons” . . . I assembled the tray, but the collection of necklaces and random pink bead added to the rice were entirely her doing 😆 !

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Assemble your “Measuring Tray” with the following: tablespoon, half tablespoon, teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon (*optional*), 1/2 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon (*optional*), a bowl of cheap rice, an empty bowl, and a fraction manipulative set (*optional* but a great addition to this activity).

2.) Show your child first the tablespoon and half tablespoon. Name each and explain that the contents of two half tablespoons make up one tablespoon. Demonstrate this with the rice: fill a half tablespoon, level off, transfer it to the tablespoon, and repeat. Allow your child to repeat your demonstration, even saying aloud what he is doing and naming the spoons as he goes.

3.) Next, introduce your child to the teaspoons. Name each and explain the concept of “part” and “whole.” Explain that in a fraction, the top number refers to the part, and the bottom number refers to the whole. Explain that in a 1/4th teaspoon, the one signifies one of four parts. You may at this time choose to use your fraction manipulatives, laying out each spoon with it’s corresponding manipulatives as shown below. Next, mix up the spoons and manipulatives and allow your child to match them.

4.) Next, explain the following and demonstrate each with the transferring of rice:

  • eight 1/8 teaspoons make up one teaspoon
  • four 1/4 teaspoons make up one teaspoon
  • three 1/3 teaspoons make up one teaspoon
  • two 1/2 teaspoons make up one teaspoon

Allow your child ample time repeating these demonstrations and exploring/experimenting further with different spoon combinations. Allow plenty of time for playing as well.

If your child starts making an imaginary rice soup with not a care in the world as to the *amounts* or *measurements* of what he is doing, indulge him in a few minutes of this play before approaching the lesson again.

Sometimes we may even need to attempt the lesson again a different day.

5.) If/when your child has mastered the the above concepts, you may choose to “practice” cook as a way to test his understanding.

Example: “Ok. We’re making chicken soup with rice, and the recipe calls for three tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon of rice.” *You may even choose to get extra fancy by adding words such as “leveled-off” or “heaping” for additional challenge.


~CUPS~

This activity is almost identical to that of the spoons above. The instructions below are only minorly altered, swapping cups in for the spoons.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Assemble your “Measuring Tray” with the following: cup, half cup, 3/4 cup (*optional*), 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/8 cup (*optional*), a bowl of cheap rice, an empty bowl, and a fraction manipulative set (*optional* but a great addition to this activity).

2.) Show your child first the cup and half cup. Name each and explain that the contents of two half cups make up one full cup. Demonstrate this with the rice: fill a half cup, level off, transfer it to the cup, and repeat. Allow your child to repeat your demonstration, even saying aloud what he is doing and naming the cups and amounts as he goes.

3.) Next, introduce your child to the other cups and amounts. Name each and explain the concept of “part” and “whole.” Explain that in a fraction, the top number refers to the part, and the bottom number refers to the whole. Explain that in a 1/4th cup, the one signifies one of four parts. You may at this time choose to use your fraction manipulatives, laying out each cup with it’s corresponding manipulatives as shown below. Next, mix up the cups and manipulatives and allow your child to match them.

4.) Next, explain the following and demonstrate each with the transferring of rice:

  • eight 1/8 cups make up one cup
  • four 1/4 cups make up one cup
  • three 1/3 cups make up one cup
  • two 1/2 cups make up one cup

Allow your child ample time repeating these demonstrations and exploring/experimenting further with different cup combinations and fraction amounts.

5.) If/when your child has mastered the above concepts, you may choose to “practice” cook as a way to test his understanding.

Example: “Ok. We’re making rice pudding, and the recipe calls for 3/4 cups of rice plus two tablespoons.” *You may even choose to get extra fancy by adding words such as “leveled-off” or “heaping” for additional challenge.


~SCALE~

Weight can be a somewhat abstract and even foreign concept for a child. She may know that she weighs fifty pounds, but what does that mean to her? Kids don’t often have much to compare their weight to in order to put it into perspective. Most of the time, kids don’t even have a basic understanding for how much a pound is, let alone fifty of them!

photo of whale underwater
Photo by Elianne Dipp on Pexels.com

When our son is perusing one of his favorite ocean readers, he’ll often shout out to me across the house something like “Wow! Mama! A blue whale can weigh as much as 330,000 pounds! That’s a really big number!” But he has no clue how big that number actually is until I help him to put it into terms he can start to wrap his head around.

“330,000 pounds?” I call back. “That’s unbelievable! African elephants can weigh as much as 13,000 pounds, so a blue whale weighs as much as about” . . . I grab a calculator . . . “twenty-five elephants!!” That’s when his eyes get really big (and mine too) as he . . . as we . . . actually start to grasp the weight of a six-digit number.

So, where to start with weight? The very best place to start, of course! The beginning; with ounces, grams, milliliters, and pounds.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Set up a weigh station with the following: a kitchen scale, a bowl of flour, cup measures, measuring spoons, and a kitchen conversion chart.

A printable kitchen conversions chart graphic.
this is a great printable kitchen conversion chart from sugarandcharm.com

2.) Show your child how much a pound of flour is. Then explore further. How many cups of flour is a pound of flour? How many grams is that? How many ounces? If your child is, say, forty-five pounds, tell her that she weighs as much as forty-five of these bowls of flour.

Knowing exactly what a pound looks like and feeling its weight in their hands is often a fascinating and eye-opening experience for young kids.

3.) Practice weighing out different amounts on the scale with your child in various units of measurement. Be sure to teach them to “zero out” or “tare” the bowl beforehand. I like to reference everything we weigh first to cups and pounds since those are usually the most common/understandable of the measurement terms to a child.

4.) Explain that weight is different than space or size and discuss this. Perhaps introduce the concept of density.

5.) Practice conversions with your child.

Examples:

  • How many ounces are in this one cup of flour?
  • How many grams are in three cups of flour?

Need a BOOK to go with that RICE?

~Two FABULOUS RICE BOOKS! (I just couldn’t help myself)~

For Little Teaspoons (under 6):

Rice, repetition, and the months of the year! This book is silly yet sensible at the same time. And littles just LOVE it.

For kids 6 and up:

This book is a celebration of Indian art and culture, plus marvelous mathematics in one! Every child should hear this story read aloud in school at least a few times.


Tune in tomorrow for Day Three of Cooking Week: Let’s get CRACKIN! 🥚Eggs Three Ways!🍳

Thanks so much for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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