In March, as we all impatiently waited for spring to arrive, I brought a huge bag of silk flowers to the classroom for the kids to explore. With snow on the ground and colder than average temperatures outside, we had colorful little reminders inside that spring *should* soon be on its way.
Initially, my idea for the flowers was to sort by color and create rainbow designs and patterns, but my students had different ideas... and began cooking with them in the play kitchen area one day during yet another indoor recess. They made a colorful mess of flowers filling every pot, pan and cup available. The kids served up flower tea, flower muffins, flower cake, flower pie, flower pizza and much more! My students became a little obsessed with the flower cooking so I began exploring how I could sneak in a little play-based math practice.
At first, I scribbled some quick Flower Pie recipes on scrap paper with markers and showed them how they could record their own recipes by drawing pictures.
The following weekend, I sat down and created this huge pack (there are over 100 pages!) of play-based math activities using silk flowers and other materials that can easily be found at the Dollar Tree (or maybe even things you already have in your own kitchen at home or supply closet at school)! I introduced the activities a few weeks ago and they've been a huge hit.
Since I have such a wide range of ages and abilities in my own classroom, I created activities that are easily differentiated and enticing to students between Preschool and Kindergarten age.The simplest activities focus on visual perception and include a sort by color or size activity with printable vases for sorting...
... and many activities that focus on visual perception and copying skills.
There are over 50 different recipe cards that focus on counting and creating sets of up to 10 items. Recipe cards for quantities 1-5 and 5-10 are included for flower pie, flower pizza and flower ice cream!
Each activity also has a 'make your own' option (in color or black and white) where students can fill in the numerals to create their own recipes, place the flowers on or draw a picture of their recipe.
You'll need to purchase an assortment of silk flowers and some inexpensive props to go with the activities. Silk flowers can be found relatively cheaply at the Dollar Tree; look for stems that have smaller flowers with many blooms for the counting activities. You'll need the following colors: pink, red, orange, yellow, blue, purple and white. Blue flowers were the most difficult to find, but with a little searching I was able to find enough. I bought about 2 stems of flowers for each color spending between $12-14. Leave the flowers on the stems for the color, size and counting vases activities; remove the flowers from the stem for the recipe card activities.
Depending on which activities you want to do with your group, you might need a pie pan, a pizza pan, a muffin tin with 6 spaces and a muffin tin with 12 spaces; I found everything except the 12 space muffin tin at the Dollar Tree. I think that I purchased my 12 space muffin tin from a thrift store for less than $2.
Lastly, I made a pie crust and pizza crust for my activities out of an old tan sweater by tracing my pan and cutting out a circle. If you don't have an old tan sweater (who knows why I had it laying around!) you could use tan felt or fleece from the fabric store (the edges of these fabrics will not fray and do not need to be hemmed); take your pan to the store with you so you know exactly how much to buy.
I also made this lattice-top crust (completely optional!) for my activity by cutting a second circle into 1/4-1/2" strips, arranging them in a crisscross, over/under pattern and hot gluing where the strips overlapped.
Check out this YouTube video for instructions on how to make a lattice-top crust design:
Most of the material prep is pretty simple. Just print, laminate and cut. If you print the recipe cards as they are, most of them are 1/2 a page (2 per page). I found that I preferred most of them smaller and adjusted my print settings to include two pages per sheet (4 cards per page); printing the cards smaller also saves on supplies including ink, card stock and lamination!
If you're not sure how to adjust the print size to two pages per sheet, this video by 3rdGrThoughts explains it well: