Topics Covered in this Unit Study:
Not to mention, I like to use summertime as a "laidback" version of regular school. This summer, we are doing a unit study on baking. Every week, we bake something new. Actually, pretty much every day the kids are learning to bake or cook something, but the unit study itself is focused on baking.
Baking is a smart and creative unit study for any grade level. My baking unit study teaches the following:
- Exploring acids and bases.
- Chemical Reactions
- Finding out what people of different times ate.
- Cultural Geography: What Different Cultures Eat
- Writing a story.
- Making a cookbook.
- How to read and follow a recipe.
- The unit study can be done all in one day, over a week, or over several months as a regular piece of your curriculum. If you are doing it in one week, then do each subject section on a different day and add supplemental materials such as books on cooks, etc…
- Worksheets and resources come at the end of this document.
Critical Thinking and Information Sourcing
- Choose a baking cookbook from the house, the bookstore, or the library.
- Spend some time flipping through the recipes and allow them to choose a recipe that is age-appropriate. Cookies always work the best, but so do cupcakes, muffins, and scones.
- Save, print out or make a copy of the recipe.
- If your children are using journals to complete this unit study, then the recipe should be pasted or written into the journal.
- Questions to ask about the recipe:
- How many cookies does it make?
- If you only had half of that amount, how many cookies would you have? Draw a picture in your journal.
- Rewrite the recipe in your journal to show a half batch.
- Go over measurement conversions. Ask questions such as:
- How many tablespoons are in one cup?
- How many ounces in three liters of water?
- How many cups in a two-pound bag of powdered sugar?
- Make the recipe.
- Make a trip to the library and checkout as many of these books as possible:
- What’s Cookin’? by Nancy Coffelt
- The Usborne Children’s Book of Baking by Fiona Patchett, Nancy Leschnikoff, Molly Sage, and Adam Larkum (ages 9-12). New in January 2007.
- The U.S. History Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Exciting Events from the Past by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond
- The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker and Garth Williams
- Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb
- Read and use the books until they have to go back to the library. Encourage your child to read the recipes aloud.
- Using a blank book, have your child make a cookbook. On the front, let her choose a title, and then every week, select a recipe to bake and write into the book.
- Vocabulary Words: temperature, yeast, microorganism, fungi, baste, saute, broil, dehydrate, measurement, acid, alkaline, substitute, flavor, sift, tenderize…
Questions to be answered:
- What is yeast?
- Why is sugar important to yeast?
- How does it work?
- What kind of environment does yeast need to survive?
- What are the differences between active dry yeast, instant dry yeast and fresh yeast?
You will need four, quart-size zip-lock bags.
• Bag #1: yeast
• Bag #2: yeast and water
• Bag #3: yeast, water, and sugar
• Bag #4: yeast, water, and flour
Add the following materials to the labeled bags:
• Bag #1: 2 t. yeast
• Bag #2: 2 t. yeast and 1/4 cup warm water
• Bag #3: 2 t. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 T. sugar
• Bag #4: 2 t. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 T. flour
Squeeze out as much air as you can and zip each bag. Put the bags in a warm place for 15 to 30 minutes. What changes do you notice have occurred?
Acid-Base TutorialEvery food is either acid-forming or alkalinizing. Our bodies need some of both kinds, although alkalinizing foods are better. Find out what foods are acid-based and which are alkaline-based.
Questions to Answer:
- Which group do you eat more of?
- Why is too much acid harmful to the body?
- Do some foods change from one category to another when they are consumed?
- You will need a few eggs, white vinegar, a container big enough to hold all your eggs, a cover, and a large spoon. Place your eggs in the container without letting them touch. Cover the eggs with vinegar and then place the cover on the container. Place the container in the refrigerator and let the eggs sit for 24 hours.
- Use the large spoon to scoop the eggs out of the vinegar. But be careful—the eggshell has been dissolving, so the egg membrane may be the only thing holding the egg together. Carefully dump out the vinegar then put the eggs back into the container and cover them with fresh vinegar. Leave the eggs in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.
- Scoop the eggs out again and rinse them carefully. When you’re done, you’ll have an egg without a shell. It looks like an egg, but you’ll be able to see inside it. The membrane will flex when you squeeze it.
Understanding Chemical Reactions
In this experiment we will make a bag explode, so you may want to have an adult help you. You will need water, a measuring cup, zip-lock sandwich bags, paper towels, and a tablespoon of baking soda and vinegar.
- These bags can make a mess when they explode, so you might want to find a good spot to do the experiment—maybe outside...
- Make sure your bag does not have holes in it.
- Tear a paper towel into a 5”x5” square. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda in the center of the square. Fold the square into three parts, so that the baking soda is inside. Then fold that rectangle into thirds again so that the ends completely overlap in the center. This is your “time-release packet.”
- Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water into your bag.
- You need to drop the time-release packet into the vinegar and zip the bag closed before the fizzing gets out of control. You can zip the bag halfway closed, then stuff the packet in and zip the bag closed the rest of the way in a hurry.
- Shake the bag a little, put it in the sink or on the ground, and stand back! The bag will puff up and pop with a bang.
- Choose four different periods in American history and find out what were the common foods of the time. The Civil War, Native American History, Colonial Times, and the Mid-Twentieth Centuries are great periods. Look up what types of foo they ate, how they prepared food, etc…
- Choose three countries you would like to visit. What kinds of foods might you eat while you are there?
- Discover what food these people ate to celebrate birthdays and holidays.
- Write a story about a boy from Japan. It is his birthday today. What does his mother bake for the celebration? What is his favorite meal? Does he have a sweet tooth? If so, what is his favorite candy or sweet?