Package 1-2: Baking with fractions

In this package your child will learn that fractions are used in everyday activities and investigate equivalent fractions.

Week 2 - Package 2 - Year 5 & 6 Mathematics - Baking with fractions

Things you need

Have these things available so your child can complete this task.

Ideal Back up

Honey Cake recipe (see below)

If your child has allergies you may want to use one of your recipes or find one online that uses American measurements (cups)

Recipe ingredients (see below)

Use your own recipe.

Oven, wooden spoon, 18cm square cake tin, wire rack

As required by your recipe

Measuring cups, tablespoon, teaspoon

Conversion measurements if needed.

Oven gloves

Folded over tea towels – parent only

Pages of 1cm squared grid paper from your child’s mathematics book.

1cm squared grid paper

A variety of coloured pencils or textas


Why is this activity important?

This is an engaging and purposeful activity that involves working with fractions. Your child will learn that fractions are used in everyday activities and that fractions of amounts may need to be multiplied or halved depending on how big a cake you are making or how many cakes you are making. They will also investigate equivalent fractions.

Before you start

This is a fun activity that is also an opportunity to spend some time being creative with your child. It is important to allow enough time for the practical activity so that it doesn’t become stressful. Also you may want to decide ahead of time who is going to be responsible for cleaning the dishes and who will clean the work space.

Remember this is a shared activity and you will be using a hot oven. If you prefer you could take charge of putting things in and taking things out of the oven.

Make sure you have all of the ingredients and equipment ready for your activity and a damp cloth or two for if things get messy.

You and your child are going to be working with halves, thirds and quarters. It is always useful to check that your child understands what these fractions mean. You could ask them to point half way up a measuring cup, use a knife to mark half across the top of a tub of margarine, or tell you how many eggs take up a third of the spaces in your carton.

What your child needs to know and do

Your child is going to help you make a Honey Cake or another recipe of your choice.

Honey Cake Recipe

½ cup margarine

1/3 cup brown sugar (Muscovado/ Barbados)

3 tablespoons honey

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups of wholemeal flour (plain white will do)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup milk (approximately)

¼ cup sliced/flaked almonds

Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the honey. Add the lightly beaten eggs a little at a time, adding a little of the flour after each addition.

Mix the remaining flour with the baking powder and cinnamon, then beat into the creamed mixture with enough milk to make a soft dropping consistency.

Sprinkle the almonds over the base of a greased 18cm square cake tin. Spoon in the mixture.

Bake in a pre-heated moderate oven (180 degrees C) for 1 hour. Turn on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

What to do next

Before the cake gets eaten, but after the washing up has been done ask your child to draw a square on their grid paper that is 18cm by 18cm.

Ask your child to choose one colour to show how the cake could be shared equally between 2 people using the fewest cuts. How many ways can they show you with one cut?

Go through the same process with different colours on the same sheet for a family of four and a family of eight. What does your child notice? How many quarters are the same as a half? How many eighths are the same as a quarter? Could they have made the task easier by drawing the cuts differently? Ask your child to label pieces of cake that are 1-half (½), 1-quarter (¼), 1-eighth (1/8) and 1-eighth (1/8)

Using another piece of grid paper, ask your child to share the cake for a family of 3 or 6 and label 1-third (1/3), 1-third (1/3), 1-sixth (1/6), 1-sixth (1/6).

Ask your child to look at the two cakes they have drawn. What do they notice? Can they find more equivalent fractions?

Eat (and enjoy) the cake.

Options for your child

Activity too hard? Activity too easy?

If the activity is too hard stick to halves, quarters and eighths until confident.

Ask follow up ‘what if’ questions to extend and enrich your child’s knowledge such as:

What if there were three cakes that needed to be shared between 4 people? What would that look like? Can you draw it?

What if there was only one cake to share between 3 people, but one person only wanted half as much as everyone else? How much would they get? How much would everyone else get? What would that look like in a drawing?

Ask your child to come up with some ‘what if?’ questions.

Follow-up questions to ask your child

Ask your child whether it matters which way you cut a square cake into half, quarters and eighths? What if the cake was round?

Extension/Additional activity

Use the same recipe and ask your child to imagine you only have a rectangular cake tin that is 18cm by 9 cm. Discuss how much smaller this cake tin is that the one you used for your cake. They should be able to tell you that it is half the size.

Ask your child to write up the recipe to make a cake that is half of the size. If you have used the given recipe this should not be a problem, but your child may need to go back to their cake drawings to help them work out what half of a half, half of a quarter or half of a third is.

If you have used a different recipe you may have to ask what will happen if the original recipe only calls for half an egg. Does that matter in your recipe or is it a beaten egg? This sort of question helps your child relate fraction problems to real life.

A further activity could be that you need to make 3, 4 or 5 cakes. What changes will have to be made to the recipe? How much of each ingredient would be needed? Would baking like this be practical? Would it be better to make batches?

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