Incorporate Math into your Thanksgiving Dinner

Nov 16, 2022 | Wurzbach

Do your kids often question if they’ll use their math skills when they grow up? How do we convince our students to understand the value of math. In the real world, subtlety is key to involving children in math problems and solutions, and there is no better time to start than the weeks before Thanksgiving. Simple fractions, easy percentages, and subtraction, divisions, addition, and multiplication can be fun and intriguing exercises for everyone in the family!

Kids will be surprised at how helpful division is when used to be sure everyone gets a helping. It helps answer the question about how big a turkey to buy. At the same time, it teaches kids the importance of averaging and variables. Talk about how some people will eat less and others will eat more turkey. An average of 1.5 pounds turkey for each person is a realistic estimate. Discuss the benefits of choosing a higher estimate for the total number of people, such as how it allows for variables, such as the weight of bones which won’t be eaten.

How big a turkey is needed? The kids can multiply 1.5 times the number (practicing decimal fractions and multiplication) or add 1.5 for every name. Show how it’s easier to add 1.5 twice to get 3 pounds for every two guests, and then count by 3s to get a total. Older kids will enjoy sharpening their money skills by computing the total cost of the turkey by multiplying the price per pound by the number of pounds needed.

The holiday is also good for working with time. If the pies need to bake for an hour and 15 minutes, how many minutes total are needed once the oven heats to the correct temperature? What time should the pies be put into the oven so they are ready to eat when it’s time to serve dessert?

Younger children get counting experience with knives, forks, and spoons for the table. Build conceptual skills during family events to strengthen the understanding of why math makes planning easier.