As a homeschooling parent, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when considering how to fully portray ideas and make the curriculum you’ve chosen come alive for your child. Having some practical examples of how to apply activities and projects to the subjects your kids are learning can be very helpful. One of my favorite ways to bring learning to life is through cuisine. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we have a perfect opportunity to utilize the season to show how food can play a valuable and fun role in education at home.
Here are several ways to incorporate food into different subjects that your kids might be studying.
Have you ever wondered where a certain food came from, or who invented it? These are great questions to build a history lesson around. Every food has a unique history to look up. Explore and discuss the origins and the different cultural influences for a specific food or cuisine. Once you’ve learned the history, the kids might just be super excited to help you make and eat what they just learned about! For example, in a search for the origins of German Chocolate Cake, you might find that it didn’t actually come from Germany. It was developed in Dallas, Texas. The cake was named after the type of dark chocolate used in the recipe, which was developed by an English-American chocolate maker named Samuel German.
Cooking opens the door for great questions for your kids. For example, why do we add yeast to rolls? Why are many foods cooked with heat? What does heat do to the food chemically? Showing your children what happens in the process of cooking a food, and discussing why is a great and fun way to bring science to life. Instead of just reading about chemical reactions, show them what happens in a hands-on way by getting them involved in the kitchen with you.
Food can also serve as a physical model of something you’re learning about in science. One of our family’s favorite science projects was making an edible model of the Earth’s layers. It was visual for the kids and delicious to eat!
Have you ever thought about how beautiful food is? Consider the different colors of a salad or the way the perfect garnish on a plate looks. Ask yourself how two people making the very same recipe can end up with different results. (I can never get my chocolate chip cookies to be as gooey as my mom’s, even though she taught me how to make them from her own recipe!) Each individual puts their unique touch on what they make. Food can be edible art!
In our household, we unite food with artistry in the setting of the table. A fun Thanksgiving art project is to have the kids make placemats with construction paper and cut-out items and words from magazines that represent things they are thankful for. They simply decorate the paper with the items they’ve found, and then a parent can laminate the placemats or cover them with clear contact paper- if you don’t have a laminator.
Okay, this is the easy one. How can you incorporate math into cooking? Measuring! Get the kids involved in reading recipes and figuring out how to correctly measure the ingredients. Try making a half-batch or a double-batch, or just theorize with them in this way to test their math skills even further.
Geography is possibly my favorite subject to incorporate food into! Each school year we “eat our way around the world!” I’ve mentioned in a previous article that we homeschool through Raven Homeschool charter. We participate in the geography club that they offer there and really enjoy it. Every month, all of the participating families study a different country, and get together on club day to give presentations about what we’ve learned.
Part of our study is to learn about the food culture of a country and pick one or two items to prepare. Then we bring that food with us when we get together, and the whole club gets to sample food from all the different countries studied that month! This has proven to be a great way to bring the culture of another location to life, and to get our kids to eat foods they might not have tried otherwise.
This month we are studying Chile and are excited to learn how to make empanadas to share with everyone!
It is fun and easy to incorporate food into your homeschool studies to help bring any subject to life. And it’s such a yummy way to learn!