Baking-up is hard to do . . . unless you use your reading & math skills!

Baking-up is hard to do . . . unless you use your reading & math skills!

by .
Shirley Lanham Elementary

Students at Shirley Lanham Elementary School meet for an after-school club they like to call “Chat & Chew.” But these kids aren’t just about gabbing and gobbling; they’re also working to strengthen their reading and math skills. Their weekly Chat & Chew sessions work through several courses.

The student group starts out as a literature circle. They first select an interesting book from the library, read it together, and discuss structures such as plot, character, setting, favorite parts, and other important elements. Once they’ve worked through the reading, they brainstorm ideas about what they can cook that is somehow related to what they’ve read and search the internet for a recipe that looks good. Once they find one, math skills kick in! They must convert the ingredient quantities to make only enough for the number of people eating.

“The math part was kind of hard at first,” said one 3rd grade student. “I wasn’t sure about using fractions and changing them and stuff…but now it’s kind of easy!”

“Yeah, the math was the hardest part at first; but now the hard part is deciding what to make after we’ve read the story.” Said another student.

The group was eager to provide examples of how the reading and cooking connection works.

After reading two Bunnicula (James Howe) books in October, they made a white salad. They used a variety of white fruits and vegetables because those types appear to have had “their juices sucked out!”

In November, the students selected and read The Cat who liked Potato Soup (Terry Ferish). Naturally, they made baked potato soup! “It was really good…and we put bacon bits on it!”

In December, they read three books from Stephanie Greene’s Moose & Hildy series (focusing on Moose) and mixed up a BIG batch of Moose Munch as a holiday treat for friends and family. 

Their most recent selections have been a few stories from Meg Rosoff’s Wild Boars series. While not necessarily difficult to read, these books have large, clean illustrations that provide great visual support to younger readers and help students anticipate story outcomes. Completion of the last story they read, Wild Boars Cook, culminated into the making of GIANT COOKIES—and just in time for Valentine’s Day!

“The wild boars made a really gross cake that had an octopus in it! And at the end, after they ate everything they could find, they were still hungry!”

“…then they decided to make a massive cookie…and so we decided to make one, too!”

The club plans to continue to meet through the rest of the school year and are looking forward to chatting and chewing their way to improving their reading and math skills!

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