The Kitchen Game

Want a daily dose of mathematics in your child’s life? Add a play kitchen to your home. Ours inspired a child dubbed activity called, “The Kitchen Game.” It all began with a simple table setting. One child carefully laid out five bowls, four plates, and two cups. Thinking I would encourage him to practice some one-to-one counting, I asked, “How many people are coming to this party you are preparing?” He carefully counted plates around the table in a counter-clockwise fashion, double counting many of the same dishes. “Ten! Ten people are coming for dinner.” This taught me much about this child’s mathematical thinking and understanding of concepts such as one to one correspondence, estimating, and conservation of numbers.

P1050875A few moments later, the two chefs invited Mrs. Pless to join them for soup. Two other children noticed this new endeavor and decided help the restaurant out. In a whirlwind of cooking and flying paper, Mrs. Pless was instantly inundated with bills for services costing up to ten hundred eighty thousand. At one point a student kindly made a “pass” for Mrs. Pless so that her next meal would be free.  Needless to say, eventually Mrs. Pless ran out of “money.”

Child: We have a big collection of money.

Mrs. Forst: What if Mrs. Pless runs out of money?

Child: We make her pay. Mrs. Pless, do you have any money?

Mrs. Pless:  No, I’m broke.  You have all of my money.

Child:  You have to take it out of your bank account.

Mrs. Pless:  My bank account is empty.

Child: Too bad. You still have to pay.  [Maniacal laugh] Because we’re a bad restaurant.  No one’s going to want to come here!


I think I agree. This restaurant is a bit pricey.  However, look at all of the mathematical concepts they are sharing with us.  They already have some understanding of:

  • value
  • cost
  • banking
  • cash
  • numerals
  • quantities
  • a bill (that you have to pay)
  • a bill (a denomination of money)
  • currency
  • large numbers
  • the consequences of running an overly expensive restaurant (???)

In fact, I believe I might have encountered our next major credit card company founder.

Mrs. Forst: How much is an eggplant?

Child:  You have to pay $600 every month.  It changes.

Mrs. Forst: How long do I have to pay this?

Child:  106 days, but you have to pay everyday.

Did you see how the payments went up when I wasn’t paying attention? Classic.


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