Have you ever asked your children to vote and noticed the excitement on their faces? "Who wants to go out to dinner?" "Who can clean up the fastest?" Me! Me! Me! Children love to have a say and voice their opinions. This activity builds on that enthusiasm and integrates the important math skills of counting, sorting and comparing to determine favorites and have a little family math fun while teaching your child how to collect, analyze and present data.
What's the Best Cookie?
Children love treats. But which one do they like best? Is their favorite someone else's favorite? Cookies are a great start for a survey that not only teaches math — but also tastes good! Using store-bought, homemade or a mix of both, your child can survey family and friends over which cookie is the best.
This activity will help your child:
- Count and compare quantities
- Collect and analyze numerical data
- 2 different batches of cookies (or 2 packages of different store-bought cookies)
- 2 plates
- Paper for tallying votes and presenting results
- Index cards for labeling cookies
- 1 marker or writing utensil
Prepare the Survey
1. Ask your child which type of cookie they want to assess: homemade or store-bought. You can ask "Do you want to make them or should we take a trip to the store to choose them?" Keep it simple with chocolate chip or sugar cookies.
Just as any researcher would devise a survey, choosing the cookies already involves math choices. Ask "Should the cookies look the same? Is it OK if one type is bigger or smaller than the other?"
Then, ask your child "How many cookies do we need?" "What size?" and "How many cookies should we let each voter sample?"
2. Bake or purchase the cookies. Ask your child what they think is the best way to present them to voters. You can ask "Should they be on the same plate or different ones?" "If you chose a cookie from your favorite plate do you think it would taste better?"
3. Label the options. Write "Cookie 1" and "Cookie 2" on separate index cards and place them in front of each plate of cookies.
4. Create a simple T-shaped tally sheet on a piece of white paper with two columns and label them as "Cookie 1" and "Cookie 2," respectively. You can also ask your child to draw each type of cookie next to or above its label. Older kids can create rows on the tally sheet and label them for each voter.
5. Conduct the survey. With the tally sheet in hand, have your child ask friends and family to taste each cookie and vote for their favorite. Have your child mark their choices on the tally sheet.
As the votes come in, ask your child why people should only vote for one type of cookie. Discuss the challenge of picking just one favorite by asking "Can I have a favorite and still like other kinds of cookies?"
6. Analyze the data. After you have all the votes, or data, guide your child in the analysis. Start by counting the number of votes for each cookie type together and write the total at the bottom of each column.
7. Compare the vote totals. Ask your child "Which cookie won?" "Which earned more votes?" "How close was the vote?" and "Why do you think the winner won?"
If it's a tie, talk about what it means to not have a clear winner by asking "Do you need a tie breaker?" and "What if we ask one more person to choose their favorite?"
Compare the votes per cookie to the total number of votes to introduce your child to the concept of percentages and ask "Did most of the voters like the same cookie or was it more spread out?"
8. Present the results. Now that the votes are in and the winner is decided, it's time for the big reveal! Talk about the best way to present the winner by asking "Should we circle the winner on the tally sheet?" "Do we need a first place ribbon to place on the plate of cookies?" and "Should we create a poster or certificate to announce the winner?"
9. Share the winner! Gather your voters and let your child announce "And the winner is … "
Now, it's time to enjoy the winner and even the loser, because there really is no such thing as a bad cookie!
Keep the Conversation Going
Encourage your curious child to assess the world around them with a variety of surveys with different complexities. Instead of limiting the options to a few variables, try a more open-ended survey such as "What is your favorite color?" so that your child must manage more than a few predetermined variables. Use this survey as a chance to work on color recognition as your child practices writing simple words and numbers.