Food Preparations - Home Edition

Food preparation as a skill is an integral element of any Montessori classroom. While specific lessons feature most prominently during the primary years, elementary and adolescent teachers find ways to teach children these important skills throughout the year as well.

Learning one’s way around the kitchen is a skill that couldn’t be easier to translate at home. Parents - you can support this important learning as often as you like; we all need to eat, so each meal and snack presents an opportunity for learning - at all ages.

The Basics: These skills are a must for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners. As children move into the elementary years, they’ve most likely learned them, but it’s a good idea to check! Mastering these basics helps springboard children into all types of food-related fun.

Slicing and Chopping - Start simply with a peeled banana and a butter knife. Show your child the motion, then give them a turn. As they get the hang of it, you can move on to cucumbers, carrots, and different types of cutting tools. We love using a wavy chopper with small children. If, after cutting a variety of foods, your child is still interested, keep giving them practice! This can be as simple as helping to slice up some raw vegetables a few nights a week for dinner.

Spreading - Think peanut butter on toast, softened butter on an English muffin, or cream cheese on a stalk of celery. Get creative, and your child will have a chance to strengthen both their confidence and their fine motor skills.

Mixing - A few fun examples of this might be learning how to make instant pudding or stirring some tasty berries into yogurt. Mixing practice can even be incorporated into whatever you’re already doing in the kitchen. Making brownies? Hand over the spoon and let your child take a turn!

Multi-Step Snacks - Good teaching builds one skill on top of another. The same goes for food prep. Combining skills that have been learned means a child can begin to make more complicated treats. Have them slice a banana, then add it to a peanut butter sandwich. Make hummus together, then cut up some vegetables to dip in it.

Cooking Ideas: There really is no limit when it comes to children cooking, especially as they get older. If children are taught how to use tools properly and safely when they are young, they can participate in the important family contribution of making meals as soon as they are ready. And you may be surprised at how quickly they prove they’re ready. Here are a few recipes to get you started.