Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do the math

Well, school starts tomorrow.  I think the girls are somewhat excited and also somewhat sad that summer break is done.  Gillian starts kindergarten this year, and some anxiety about has definitely been showing.  She's been much more clingy than usual, to the point of driving me totally crazy.  Brianna, on the other hand, is starting to worry a little about stuff like not remembering her math facts as well as she should.  Of course, that may just be because she wants an excuse to do flash cards on my iPod. =)  

We've been having fun with math in another way as well.  A month or so ago, someone from a parenting group I belong to introduced us to Bedtime Math.  The idea behind it is that we all focus on reading to our children at bedtime, but we don't teach them that math can be fun, too.  You can subscribe via email or just follow the blog, and every day you get a new problem to solve.  There are actually several problems in each email, for "Wee Ones," "Little Kids," and "Big Kids."  So far Gillian does fine with the easiest problems while Brianna has to help her with the Little Kid ones, and the Big Kid problems just enough of a challenge for B.  I love that they make it real, tying in a variety of different topics.  For example, during the Olympics, there were problems that had to do with different sports.  Some are more random, like today's problems about escalators.  I hope you'll check it out for yourself!  (I'm not affiliated with them in any way, btw.)

One of my favorite ways to use math in our everyday activities is to bring it up in the kitchen, of course.  My girls love to help me bake, as I've mentioned here before.  So far I think I have them pretty convinced that all baking is done by measuring ingredients with a scale, preferably in grams.  For now, I'm the one doing the math, since many of my recipes only give volume amounts, and the ones that do give weights often just use ounces.  I know how much a lot of ingredients weigh, but I also sometimes refer to tables like this one.  I'm getting pretty good at converting from ounces to grams in my head--I've memorized a lot of the common ones, like the fact that a cup of sugar weighs 7 ounces, which is about 200 grams.  I need to start putting Brianna to work figuring out the numbers, though. =)

With some authors I get lucky, and they publish recipes with metric weights.  That was the case for these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert.  I made them a few weeks ago, during a rough week at work when it seemed like we all needed some chocolate to get through the days.  Any recipe that starts off with a full pound (about 450 grams) of chocolate has got to be good for that!  I didn't tinker around with the recipe much, other than to substitute dried cranberries for the nuts.  The recipe says to do the cookies as slice & bake, but I haven't ever done that.  Instead, I scoop the dough out with my #40 disher and let it set up on the pans.  If you're going to go that route, I recommend scooping all the dough (it's more like a batter) out at once, otherwise the later cookies don't look very pretty.  I end up with about 45 cookies doing it that way, and bake them for 10 minutes.  

The verdict?  These are very intense, and very tasty.  They were definitely just the thing for a pick-me-up during a stressful work week.  Gillian is happy any time she can convince me to make chocolate chocolate chip cookies, but was kind of annoyed that I added the cranberries.  I, on the other hand, think that I should use more cranberries next time.  The tartness cuts through some of the richness of the chocolate.  

If you'd like to try this recipe for yourself, I encourage you to get your hands on a copy of Ready for Dessert.  I also found an older version of the recipe (a half-recipe, actually, without ingredient weights and missing the salt) online here.  


  1. YUM for the cookies, and good luck for school tomorrow! Big deal about Kindergarten!!

    I should try the bedtime Math again. I stopped the emails because even the easy problems were too hard (and not interesting) for T at 2.5 but she might be able to work it out now.

  2. You and your chocolate! :-) The boys had little Math Facts music tapes when they were younger and I can still hear them in my mind at random...they never go away...once they are in there you can't remove them if you Best wishes for Brianna and Gillian and their new school years!

  3. Love the cookies, and the bedtime math, though I usually get hives when I even think about math (luckily, H doesn't have my math genes). I hope 1st day of school goes great for of your girls!

  4. A full pound of chocolate!! Sounds like my kind of cookie. Oh, wait, not in EACH cookie!!?? Ah well. Still works!!

    I remember math. Kids had little computer programs that they loved to work iwth and all the electronic toys that 'taught' them math. Still have them

  5. Those look ah-mazing. Can't wait to hear about the girls' first day of school! And I love the idea of bedtime math; checking it out ASAP!