Edible Math: A Reason to Let Kids Play With Their Food

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Edible Math: A Reason to Let Kids Play With Their Food

July 11, 2013

Hold on to your happy meals because math is about to take lunchtime to a new level. Tanwiches, tangram sandwiches, are a hot new trend sweeping the globe. According to a blog on The Guardian “edible mathematics” is all the rage.

Edible math goes beyond the basic ingredient measuring activity common to all baking. Food-based math puzzles like tanwiches elevate playing with your food to new geometric heights.

A long-time favorite of math lovers, tangrams are Chinese puzzles comprised of a single square cut into seven pieces. They’re great for learning basic geometric shapes and for developing spatial thinking skills. Puzzle solvers are challenged to arrange the seven pieces to create different forms. Take a look at the tangram swan as well as the scaredy cat that were part of the fun at a Bedtime Math party at Chandler Public Library. (Alas, the figures were composed of more traditional, inedible, materials).

To make a tanwich, make a sandwich with the filling of your choice and cut off the crusts to shape it into a clean square. Then cut the square into two large triangles, one medium triangle, two small triangles, a square, and a parallelogram (see the graphic above for one possible template).  If you’re looking for inspiration, don’t miss the delightfully creative tanwich designs over at the Dashing Bean blog.

Too much cutting? Worried about sticky filling oozing out? Try satisfying your kids with a much neater game of virtual tangrams, a series of free online puzzles.

If you want to stick to potentially messy hands-on activities and tanwiches have whet your appetite for even more math food, whip up a batch on Tangram cookies. They’re like tanwiches in cookie bar form! You can even buy a special cookie cutter just for this purpose.

If you’ve already heated up the oven, keep your oven mitts on and check out this recipe for conic section scones (sconic sections).

Adults whose knife skills complement their spatial thinking skills can serve up Mobius bagels for a one-sided breakfast. Or treat the kids to a super sweet math dessert and follow along with Vi Hart, a mathmusician, as she demonstrates how she turns a Froot by the Foot into Mobius strips and so much more.

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About the Author

Kim Moldofsky

Kim Moldofsky is a mom of teen boys in the Chicago area. She blogs at TheMakerMom.com and hosts a the popular monthly #STEMchat on Twitter where parents and educators share ideas and resources to raise STEM-loving kids.

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