Weighty morning activity


I am a real throw it together sort of cook, so have never bothered with scales in the kitchen.  But a few years ago I thought it would be good to have some for the kids to use and possibly to improve my cooking.  For some reason I remember that it was Good Friday morning, the two boys were 5 & 8 yrs and in their pajamas.  They wanted to play with our new toy (they are funky red & retro so who wouldn’t ??) – even I started to measure ingredients for a while…

I was so blown away by several things that morning. One being how great unschooling is because it can happen on a public holiday, in your PJs and before breakfast.  Two was the absolute quality of their interactions, that went something like this…

Tins and packets were bought out of the pantry and a reasonable pile amassed on the lounge floor.
– Let’s check if this weighs what it says on the outside
– How much more do we need to make 3kgs?  OK, 5 kgs?
– If I put on  5 of these 400grm tins how many kgs is that?
– Let’s get it down to half a kg…. yes take off two of those…..

It was honestly like a scripted maths lessons, (and being an ex primary teacher I was jealous of the way it flowed! They were totally engrossed (and no doubt learning too, the canny devils) for over one and a half hours and covered a 3 week measurement unit that could have been taught in any school around the country.
The other thing I just loved about it was my role…….Buying the scales and …um….putting away all the tins later on when they had definately moved on.  I kid you not.  Low maintenance, self teaching children!  This was a very inspiring moment for me and showed me again, how children only want to learn, and to learn about what is around them.
They often have pulled out the scales and “played”  with them over the last few years and now we have just got some bathroom scales for the first time ever as Ollie wants to weigh heavier things like bags of survival gear.
There seems to be a great amount of fear around maths.   I look at the maths I use in my everyday life (admittedly I am at arts student through and through, so you have to dig around a bit) – measurement – mostly time, distance, weight (obviously not when cooking…), basic arithmetic, estimation….

Have I ever used those tables we used to have to look up in little books when I was 15, cosine etc…???   Um,   let’s think…NO!!  So many people say they hate maths, or are no good at it.  They mean they didn’t enjoy or understand maths back in school.  Not the everyday stuff, that maths is fantastic!  We all love it!  Do my kids love to work out how much pocket money they will get in a year?  YES!  So basic arithmetic, when motivated, comes easily to them.  However ask them  about times tables and you receive a blank stare.

I have used the scales myself and made the most gorgeous (and well measured) apricot jam this summer.  I had images of taking down a jar in the depths of winter  to have on fresh bread, while sitting by the fire.  But unfortunately, unbeknown to me, one of the  kids (you know who you are) ate their way steadily through the whole lot and by the time Autumn had arrived, and there were no more apricots to be had, it was all gone. And I mean ALL!
Is there a moral to this?  No not really, except that being good at maths doesn’t always pay off.

Spoken like a true Arts student!


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