A Fun...And Edible Way to Learn Math With Eat Your Homework From Ann McCallum Books (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Math is certainly not my favorite subject as I've confessed before. But one reason I think that I -and often my kids- find math tedious is that the subject can be dry and boring. But not lately. The younger girls and I have been reviewing Eat Your Math Homework from Ann McCallum Books, and learning math this way is anything but boring.

I have to admit that the title drew me. I saw that real recipes were involved, and my younger girls love to cook. I saw that math was involved, and I'm always looking for help there. I talked the book up to them, so when it arrived for review, we were all excited.
Review of Eat Your Math Homework, hands-on math fun and recipes

Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds by Ann McCallum; illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

Eat Your Math Homework is a paperback book. The age recommendation for the book on the site is 7-10 years. It contains an introduction; kitchen tips, including the always helpful tip to make sure to have the help of an adult when needed; six fun, math-related recipes; a review of the math concepts covered; a glossary of math terms, and an index. The recipes vary in difficulty, but none was particularly difficult. They include:

  • Fibonacci Snack Sticks which cover the math concept of the Fibonacci number sequence
  • Fraction Chips which deal with fractions and fractional equalities
  • Tessellating Two-Color Brownies which illustrate the concept of a tessellation
  • Milk and Tangram Cookies which allow kids to make geometric tangram shapes out of cookies
  • Variable Pizza Pi which introduces the concepts of pi, constants and variables, and circumference
  • Probability Snack Mix which deals with theoretical and experimental probability
I used Eat Your Math Homework with my younger girls 10 and 11, and even though they are on the upper end of the recommended age range, I found that some of the math concepts covered were still pretty meaty for them- especially if we discussed them in detail with our recipe/activity and then worked on them more in depth. The recipes all have a beginning section that introduces the concept, the recipe itself, and then activities that are used with the recipe to illustrate the math concept. Here's a glimpse of two of our favorite activities from the book.

Fraction Chips

This activity involved flour tortillas and taco seasoning- always a winning meal at our house. The girls had plenty to help with, brushing the tortillas with oil and seasoning. I fried them, although the girls have had a hand with pancakes and probably could have done the frying with supervision. The book details how to cut up your fried tortillas into halves, thirds, fourths, eighths, fifths, sixths, ninths, and twelfths. Some of these were easier to cut than others, and it was pretty important to have them as equal as possible to be able to do the activities. So I wielded the pizza cutter. (We still turned out with some pretty crooked twelfths.)

Fraction chips from Eat Your Math Homework

Fraction chips from Eat Your Math Homework, a great way to learn fractions

All of the recipes have a bonus "Math Appeteaser" which is a more difficult concept that relates to the activity you're doing in some way. The bonus activity here was about diameter and finding the area of a circle. Neither of the girls had covered this concept before. I think that these little bonuses especially serve to make the activities more age flexible and make the book easier to use with all the kids in the family.

For our fraction chips, we looked at a variety of fraction equalities and inequalities. By comparing pieces of fraction chips, the girls were able to get a good visual of the concept that 1/2=2/4=4/8=6/12 and so on. We took some time playing with the chips and figuring this out, and then we shared the chips with siblings as part of lunch that day.

Fraction chips from Eat Your Math Homework, a great way to learn fractions

Probability Trail Mix

This was my favorite activity in the book because one of the math concepts I really do enjoy is that of probability. After we read the introduction, we took our trail mix ingredients. I changed up some of the ingredients to include some of our favorites. We took the time to do the Math Appeteaser which had us estimating how many of each ingredient was in a one cup measure. Then we mixed in our ingredients.

Probability Trail Mix from Eat Your Math Homework

After we mixed our trail mix, we took some time to sort our mix into bags and count it. Then we talked about theoretical probability and experimented with what we actually drew when randomly drawing out ingredients. Of course, eating the snack mix afterwards was one of the best things for the girls, but they did seem to understand probability- which can be a difficult concept- after playing around with it this way.

Learning estimation and probability

Hands-on learning of probability in math

What did we think?

I think this is an excellent way to introduce or review some math concepts that can occasionally be difficult. Introducing the concept along with cooking- which most kids like to do or at least help with- makes it less intimidating. And having the opportunity to practice a concept in a fun hands-on way always makes it "stick" better

The girls were very interested. Because they love cooking, they were always glad to see me get this book out and tell them we were doing Eat Your Math Homework for math that day. Although there is some reading to set up each activity, it's well written and not extremely long, so the girls weren't antsy waiting to get to the "fun stuff." 

The only recipe that didn't work out for us were the Tessellating Two-Color Brownies, and this was due to my decided lack of cooking skills. Something happened as I was trying to turn the brownies out of the pan, so we could put powdered sugar on half, as in the instructions. I probably didn't properly prepare the pan. (In fact the girls were pretty sure that this was the culprit.) But I couldn't get the brownies to turn out, so we couldn't make cute brown and white triangles to use in making tessellating shapes. Interestingly, tessellations were still one of the lessons we all really enjoyed, and we did some other tessellation activities because we were interested in the concept. All of this goes to say that even if you don't consider yourself a great cook, don't be afraid to try Eat Your Math Homework because there are fun lessons to learn even when things go wrong.

Studying tessellations with brownies

Eat Your Math Homework from Ann McCallum BooksThe Facts

Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Crew members reviewed this and other AnnMcCallum books. Click the banner below to see more reviews. (I'm especially excited to look at some of the other Eat Your Homework books!)

Ann McCallum Books Review

A Fun...And Edible Way to Learn Math With Eat Your Homework From Ann McCallum Books (A Schoolhouse Crew Review) A Fun...And Edible Way to Learn Math With Eat Your Homework From Ann McCallum Books (A Schoolhouse Crew Review) Reviewed by Leah Courtney on 12:31:00 AM Rating: 5

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