If you want your child to grow up knowing how to prepare homemade meals rather than relying on drive-through options, she'll need to know how to use measuring cups and spoons. Luckily, you probably won't hear many grumbles when you pull out a brownie recipe and invite your child into the kitchen for a baking lesson.
Even young children can learn how to fill up and pour various sizes of measuring cups with careful supervision. A large 2-cup measuring cup intended for liquid ingredients is a good place to start because the handle and spout make it easier to lift and pour. As your child gains proficiency, move on to nesting measuring cups for dry ingredients. Show your child how to fill them to the brim and gently scrape the excess off the top with the back of a butter knife to get an exact measurement. Measuring spoons are the hardest to handle because of their small size, so introduce them last.
Even if your child hasn't been introduced to fractions in school yet, you can point out how the different measurements fit together and show her the way a half, a quarter and an eighth are written. Ask her which one is the biggest and which the smallest. When the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, ask her how many times she would need to fill up the quarter-cup-sized measuring cup to complete the recipe. Invite an older child to help you double a batch of cookies for more fractions practice.
Make It Play
Children need repetition to learn new skills. Give your child plenty of chances to practice using measuring cups and spoons by giving her an extra set to use in her play area. Challenge her to collect half a cup of marbles or a quarter cup of play dough. She can also use them in the bath or outside at a water table. If you're up for the mess, let your child combine shaving cream and food coloring to create pretend ingredients she can mix together.
If your child has been cooking with you for a while, give her a simple recipe that requires using measuring cups and spoons and challenge her to prepare it on her own while you watch. As she gets better, offer more complex recipes or ask her to double or triple the batch for an extra math and measuring challenge. If your child is not excited by food, have her follow recipes for homemade play dough or oobleck instead.