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What can children learn through cooking?

Counting Currants


Cooking provides wonderful opportunities to help your child learn mathematical vocabulary. How better to learn phrases like 'more than' or 'less than' than by weighing out ingredients. Remember in the UK to weigh in grams rather than imperial measures. Let your child feel a 1kg bag of sugar to feel how heavy it is. He or she could also feel other packages to help to develop estimation skills.

Your child will gain experience in counting and recognising numbers. If decorations are to be added to cakes, let your child add a specific number and counting opportunities can arise while setting the table. Through the use of different cutters, children can learn the names of various 2D shapes. You can discuss how many corners or sides these shapes have so that children will learn the properties of many shapes. Your child can learn about timing too.

Below we include a list of important mathematical vocabulary which your child needs to be able to understand and can learn through cooking experiences. We recommend that you focus on a few words at a time. Select the easier words for very young children and introduce the more difficult when you feel your child is ready. Put the words into a context such as, "Which cake is bigger, yours or mine?". The list is appropriate for Year 1 (5–6 year olds).

Download the vocabulary list and print it out.


  • enough
  • not enough
  • nearly
  • just over
  • how many …?
  • count


  • same as
  • bigger
  • smaller
  • biggest
  • smallest
  • less
  • least
  • fewer
  • first, second, third.... tenth
  • last
  • most
  • the same number as

Addition and Subtraction

  • one more
  • how many are left over/left
  • how many more to make…?
  • how many more than…is?
  • how many have gone?


  • measure
  • enough
  • not enough
  • too much, too little
  • too many, too few
  • nearly
  • close to
  • about the same as
  • just under, just over
  • thick, thin
  • long, short
  • longest, shortest
  • weigh, weighs
  • heavy, light
  • heavier, lighter
  • weight
  • scales
  • full, half full
  • empty
  • holds

Exploring Pattern and Shapes

  • shape
  • flat
  • curved, straight
  • round
  • corner
  • nearly
  • sides, edge
  • circle
  • square
  • triangle
  • rectangle
  • star


  • on top of
  • top, bottom, side
  • forwards, backwards
  • over, under
  • in front, behind
  • next to
  • between
  • roll
  • turn
  • stretch


  • carry on
  • start from
  • put
  • place
  • what comes next?
  • arrange

Next » Learning Language Skills and Science through Cooking

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