Find math in the kitchen with a cupcake counting exercise! Kids sort and decorate cupcakes while using math words like "set" and "unit." This creative activity blends open-ended art with counting, matching and sorting, skills kids will use later for academic math. Let the cupcake counting begin!
What You Do:
- Bake the cupcakes in advance. Fill the cupcake tins only halfway full of dough so the tops will be flat. Allow to cool.
- Now, mix the marzipan modeling dough. Working on wax paper, divide marzipan into as many portions as colors you want to use. Show your child how to squish marzipan flat between her palms, add color to the center, then fold up the edges and squeeze. Have her keep squishing until color is even. For deeper color, add two drops and knead some more. She'll need to wash and dry her hands between colors.
- She can now sculpt with the marzipan — no special instructions needed! She can make animals, shapes, flowers, anything she can imagine. Later, she'll pick six of her creations to be cupcake toppers.
- While she's sculpting, set up the matching activity on a long table or counter. Arrange the sets so like units are together (all six cupcakes on one plate, all six saucers in one stack, all six candles in one cup, etc.)
- Have her choose six toppers and ask if she can help you see if there are six "units" in the other "sets." Name sets and count units together: "The saucer set has: one, two..." (Is your child an accomplished counter? She'll be delighted if you have "forgotten" a saucer or "accidentally" included extra candles. Let her correct the units!)
- With counts confirmed, reorganize old sets into new sets: cupcake sets! Have her hand you one saucer, one doily, etc., while explaining that a cupcake set needs one of each unit.
- After each cupcake set is organized, encourage her to arrange each set in the way she likes.
- If she wants to keep going, have her break down the sets again. Can she sort everything so that like units are back together?
Allow her to sort and count as much as she likes, then let her enjoy her cupcake treat at the end. After all that counting, sorting, and matching, she's earned it!