Monday, March 29, 2010

SMMART MATH: Bake Me A Math Cake…

For Goodness Sake!


Does your child ever beg you to bake cupcakes or a big ‘ol cake “for fun” with no birthday or special occasion? Periodically, my little 4 year old asks if we can make cupcakes…and now, you have the key ingredient to bake a little math into those sweets!


After watching a pony cartoon about how all the ponies went crazy and added all kinds of sugary treats into a cake batter, my daughter talked on and on about trying this out for herself…and I have to say, despite my initial trepidation, the cakes turned out really tasty!


So, gather up all the little treat you have around your house (Think of all the Easter candy coming soon):


Chocolate Chips, Marshmallows, Sprinkles, Candy-coated Chocolates, sugar cubes (I didn’t say this was a healthy learning activity), Gumdrops, Dried Cranberries and other dried fruit pieces or nuts, Cereal pieces (we didn’t try this), and perhaps even a few drops of food coloring for fun.


Help your child mix up a (box mix) cake batter and separate the batter into two pans. This way both of my children could customize their own cake flavors. If you’re going to make cupcakes, you can add the mix-ins while the batter is still in the mixing bowl.


Be sure to let your child get involved in measuring out the ingredients to mix up the cake batter. They can even keep an eye on the clock to let you know when your two minutes of mixing is up.


Yes, now you are going to let your child mix-in whatever little treats and sweets suit her fancy. But, first…she must earn her treats!


Here are a few fun ways to incorporate MATH into your cakes:

- Pour a few chocolate chips into your child’s hand and ask her to ESTIMATE the number. Then count them up to see how close she was.

- Mix up a few of the treats and let your child SORT out the treats into their own piles.

- Ask your child to COUNT out 5 treats and drop them into the batter.

- Have your child use big sprinkles to COUNT by 2s, 3s or 5s, or to count by ODD or EVEN numbers.

- Help your child create an AB, AB, AB or an ABB, ABB, ABB…PATTERN with the different types of treats.

- Put a few marshmallows into one pile and a few into another and let your child count them (or estimate) and tell you which pile is GREATER THAN or LESS THAN the other pile.

- Lay a toothpick on the counter and let your child “MEASURE” the toothpick length by lining up marshmallows along side of it. How many marshmallows long is the toothpick?

- ADD: Hand your child 2 dried cranberries, then 2 more and say “2+2 equals?”

- SUBTRACT: Give your child 5 candy-coated chocolates and tell her to hand you one. Then say “5-1 equals?”

- MULTIPLY: Place six gumdrops on the counter in two rows of three. Then point at the three in the top row and then the two down the side “3 X 2 equals?” Line up 9 gumdrops in three rows of three and point as you say “3X3 equals?”


After each exercise, let your child drop the well-earned treats into the batter. Give your child a bamboo skewer, straw or spoon to mix the treats into the batter. Throw the two cake pans into the pre-heated oven or spoon the batter into a cupcake lined pan and BAKE.

While your cakes are baking, your child can help you make this quick

Cream Cheese frosting:

1 8oz block of Cream Cheese at room temperature

Powdered Sugar to taste

Milk to desired consistency


-FRACTIONS: Cut the block of Cream Cheese in half and explain to your child that there are now two halves. Cut each half so there are four pieces. Explain that the block is cut into fourths. Cut each fourth so you have 8 pieces and explain that the block is now cut into 8ths. (You can start by cutting the block into 3 pieces or thirds, then sixths…)


Add in as much powdered sugar as you would like to taste. Add a little milk to make your icing a desired consistency.

When your cakes cool, Let your child ice the cakes and add on a few more mix-ins on top and sprinkles for super-duper fun.

Serve ‘em up and Enjoy!

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