The larger a family gets, the harder it is to find a meal that everyone actually likes. Fortunately, a family can always agree on pizza. Pizza is the great peacemaker, and it can also be a great piece-maker, a delicious way for kids to practice fractions (and learn some valuable cooking skills). Of course, if you’re crunched for time you can pick one up from your favorite spot, but baking your own is sure to create more fun, and more memories, with your kids.
You’ll need pitas, tomato sauce, cheese, and of course your little one’s favorite toppings. If you don’t have all that at home, remember you can work some math into a trip to the grocery store!
Once you’ve got all your tasty ingredients together, crank your oven to 400 degrees F and make sure everyone has a pita to build on. Ask your child how much of the pita she wants to spread sauce over, then let her spread it over the pita with a spoon or her fingers. Cover only ¼ of your own pita at first, and let your child correct you (as they love to do). Continue to play this game and cover only ½, then ¾ of the pita. Show her that even though there is only 1 pita, it can be divided into 2 halves, or 3 thirds, or 4 quarters. You can repeat and reinforce this concept when sprinkling cheese over the sauce.
Now it’s time to dress up your pies! Ask what toppings your child wants to put on, and then count them up. If there are 4 toppings, explain that they can cover ¼ of the pizza with each topping as you outline ¼ with a topping. Your kid may want 2 times as much pepperoni as mushrooms – show them that that makes 2 quarters, or ½, and leaves less room for other toppings. You can cut smaller and smaller wedges to add more toppings – ⅙, then ⅛, then even smaller – to show that even though the denominator grows it still adds up to 1 delicious pizza!
You can use the cooking time and temperature to do more numbers. Ask what would happen if you turned the temperature reading to ½ of what it is now, and help them reason it through. Or to work on time, you can tell them the pizza will be done in ¼ of an hour, and ask how many minutes that is. You can challenge your kid to watch the pies and the clock to see how long 15 minutes feels when waiting on a tasty treat.
Once the pizzas are crisped up and cooled down a bit, there’s one more way to play with fractions – any way you slice it! Let your kid decide the best way to split up the pizza. Maybe she wants 1 slice for dinner and 3 to share with the rest of the family. Whether she eats it or just plays with it, she’ll walk away from the table knowing that no matter what fractions you split a pizza into, it will all add up to 1 yummy pie!