Would you hand a three-year-old a knife?
Okay, to be fair, we're talking a blunt knife, not a sharp one, to prepare food.
Sequence of Food Preparation Activities
#1 – Slicing
Children learn to slice bananas (with a blunt knife), cucumbers, strawberries, apple (with corer), celery, hard-boiled eggs, carrots (peeling & slicing)
#2 – Spreading
Using a child-sized spreader, children spread warm butter, cream cheese, peanut butter onto toast, raw bread, crackers, and vegetables.
#3 – Make food that doesn't require heat
Butter in a bag, bread, peanut butter with a food grinder, cracking peanuts, hammering nuts, vegetable dip, cheese & meat snack, slicing hard-boiled eggs or making deviled eggs, making a smoothie, drying foods, making salads, using a melon baller to prepare a melon snack, grate cheese, squeeze lemon, crush herbs with mortar & pestle.
#4 – Making food that does require heat
Apple sauce, bread, vegetable soup, pizza, sweet treats like brownies or cookies, scones, foods from other countries such as dumplings, tea, pasta
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#5 – Re-create recipes using measurement
Use step by step visual recipe cards to allow children to complete a recipe work cycle. This work is great pre-math work!
#6 – Create new recipes
This last part of the sequence requires some preparation of mindset and environment. Allow the children to create their own recipes, observe, and experience the results. Ask inquiry questions along the way. Document the recipe to complete the work cycle. This work is a wonderful pre-science activity!
Bringing kids into the kitchen is fun and simple to do. Being patient with experience is key. Your mindset needs to embrace the fact that there might be a bigger mess and the prep may take a bit longer. That is the name of the game. Think about the long term rather than the short term.
You'll find loads of resources for bringing kids into the kitchen on Montessori Services site!