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Here’s an engaging and interesting way of getting your students involved in learning using a tasty treat: donuts.  Baked or deep fried, yeast or cake batter, frosted, filled or dusted, these tasty treats offer much more than a satisfaction to one’s sweet tooth.  In honor of National Donuts Day today, I want to show you ways you can use donuts to teach academic content as well.  May these ideas give you the motivation you need to have a sweet ending to the week and year of growing in the learning process.

As a part of learning about the community or the economic process, students can visit a local or national chain that bakes donuts.  Learning about the systems they use to run the business, the decisions on the flavors sold in the stores, and the process in creating the donuts they sell provides students the opportunity to understand producers/consumer relationships, opportunity costs depending on the business model chosen [e.g. make different kinds in advance versus using the same batter but adding different toppings], and technology’s impact on the success of their business.  Students may be able to grab a few free ones if you go on National Donuts Day.

Get math involved by having students calculate the area, radius, circumference or perimeter [for donuts that are not round].  Weigh the donuts to see how much fillings and toppings affect the donut’s overall weight.  Use these measurements to come up with the “perfect” donut, using the average size, weight, circumference, and volume to describe its attributes.  Compare the weight of donuts to similar breakfast items like bagels, muffins, and English muffins.  Another cool idea?  Have students learn how to follow directions, use fractions and proportions, and experiment with the chemistry of the cooking process with making their own donuts.

Get to the nitty gritty.  Have donuts earned the bad reputation they have as being unhealthy?  Are all donuts created equally nutritionally?  Are there foods that are actually less healthy than a donut?  Should these be a breakfast staple or a sparingly enjoyed dessert, if eaten at all?  Have students learn about their health, caloric intake, and nutritional support by studying the nutritional facts surrounding the donuts they like to eat or popular ones by well-known chains.  They may be surprised to find that cake donuts have different nutritional values than yeast donuts, that some foods touted as healthy could actually be worse nutritionally, and that donuts can contain a great deal of sugar.

What creative ways can you think of using the donut to teach curriculum?  Share your sweet ideas below!

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