Teach Engaging Math Lessons with a Holiday Bake-Off

Posted by on December 13th, 2016

The holidays are filled with gifts and gatherings. But no holiday gathering is complete without the presence of decadent baked goods. As the holidays approach bring the excitement of the season into your classroom by incorporating sweet treats into otherwise bah-humbug lessons.

Math is a subject where the learning experience can be festive, delicious and educational at the same time. Concepts such as measurement, fractions and ratios are among those that can be demonstrated with baking. Whether as a hook or review, include sweets to create engaging math lessons.


Fractions and Measurement

Introduce fractions for cooking to students using baking utensils. Use measuring spoons and cups to demonstrate the common fractions. Talk through how many of each utensil fits into the next size. When reading a recipe, identify how fractions can be combined if one utensil size is missing.


More Fractions

Bring in cakes or pies and have students practice cutting the item into halves, fourths and smaller increments. Discuss how the whole does not change regardless of how many pieces it is cut into; all of the parts still equal one whole. Explore how larger denominators actually represent smaller pieces.



Explore percentages from the context of converting fractions. Also look at what percentage of the class can be fed with a particular size or amount of an item.



In some recipes there are specific ratios of ingredients. Share recipes requiring precise ingredient ratios such as milk to water. Discuss how the outcome of the recipes will be impacted if the ratio is off. If time or location allow, try making a few of the recipes with the right and wrong ingredient ratios.



Teach the concepts of volume using baking dishes and ingredients. Allow students to observe how the same amount of liquid may appear to be a different amount in a mixing bowl than it appears to be in a glass. Investigate whether different shaped baking containers or cookie cutters may change the volume of ingredients that can be held.


Ultimate Holiday Bake-off

Culminate your holiday math lessons with an ultimate baking war. Have students bring in a dish and its corresponding recipe. Have each student share the various ways that math was used as they prepared their item. Vote on whose items are the best. Note whether recipes with a higher ratio of one ingredient verses another produced a more moist cookie or cake. Consider whether the volume of a particular dessert impacted the density or required portion size.

As the holidays arrive, there are numerous opportunities to enhance math lessons through the use of special treats. From measurement to ratios, application of multiple skills can take place in one lesson.

In addition to math, baking can be used to teach science related concepts. Temperature, properties of matter and chemical reactions are among the notions that can be learned in the kitchen. Consider making this year’s holiday lessons edible and educational to keep your students engaged.


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