We’re interrupting our usual schedule of kids’ activities, parenting inspiration, and family-friendly food to bring you 31 days of Kids Kitchen Recipes and Activities.
Today, Deb from Living Montessori Now is sharing a cutting a banana practical life activity for toddlers, so I recruited our wonderful Beth Holley from A Montessori Lexicon to share a Montessori Practical Life Lesson on how to cut an apple with kids.
In keeping with our kid’s kitchen theme, today’s Montessori practical life lesson demonstrates cutting and serving apples as a healthy snack. As you might have gathered from reading some of our previous practical life posts, it’s not just about the snack!
Dr. Montessori talked a great deal about the “preparation of the hand.” She famously asserted that “the hand is the instrument of the mind.” This is an incredible insight, given that she arrived at it before anything like brain imaging.
Recent neuroscience confirms the incredible amount of brain power devoted to the operation of the hands. In his outstanding video lecture called Good at Doing Things, Dr. Steve Hughes reminds us that humans explore the world through extensive use of our hands, and thereby build a lot of cognitive functions.
I highly recommend taking the time to view Dr. Hughes entire lecture. It’s long! 1 hour 20 minutes. But if you don’t have the time right now, you can jump to about minute 23:00 and watch for a few minutes to see a great illustration concerning how much reciprocity there is between the brain and the hand.
All the practical life activities engage the hands in various and refined ways. Apple cutting is another of the advanced practical life lessons that up the challenge for your child–in the use of her hands, in thinking about the next step, and in sticking with a longer task.
Sharing snack with others is a great grace and courtesy lesson, as well.
Let’s look at the write-up for apple–cutting.
How to Present Cutting Apples
- Direct: To learn the steps needed and to develop the strength and dexterity to cut and serve apples.
- Indirect: Sequencing, completion of task, independence, concentration, and development of social graces in offering snack to others.
- small tray
- small cutting board
- apple slicer
- child-sized knife
- serving dish
- non-slip placemat
- child-sized apron
You can purchase a complete apple cutting set from Montessori Services.
Age: 3 1/2+
1. Bring materials to the table.
2. Invite the child to put on the apron (teacher puts on her own apron).
3. Spread out the placemat and put the cutting board in the center.
4. Put the apple cutter and knife to one side of the cutting board; put the serving dish to the other.
5. Set the tray aside.
6. Retrieve an apple and place it in the center of the cutting board.
7. Demonstrate centering the apple slicer with the stem in the middle. You may make a brief comment, such as “I see the stem in the circle.”
8. Grasp the apple slicer firmly by both handles, and show pressing directly downward from above while standing up.
9. Put the apple cutter with the sliced apple still in it to the side of the cutting board.
10. Now pull out one slice and place it on the board. Grasp the knife with one hand and steady the apple slice with your thumb and forefinger of the other (pincer grasp).
11. Cut the slice into bite-sized pieces. Place the pieces on the serving dish. Do the same for the remaining slices. Dispose of the core.
12. When all slices are chopped and placed on the serving dish, demonstrate offering apple pieces to others in the room, saying “Would you care for some apple?”
13. Invite the child to slice and serve her own apple.
14. Demonstrate washing and putting away all materials.
Points of Interest:
- Does the child center the apple cutter?
- Does she firmly grasp the apple slicer by the handles?
- Does she exercise enough downward pressure to cut through the apple?
- Does she keep her fingers safely wrapped around the handles and away from the blades?
- Does she keep her fingers safely away from the knife blade when chopping the slices smaller?
Note: The cutting board should go directly on top of a non-slip placemat. Some tray surfaces are slick, and using the cutting board on top of the tray may result in the board and apple cutter slipping away from the child.
To learn more about Montessori theory, please visit Beth’s blog A Montessori Lexicon, and you can also find her on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Check out the rest of our 31 Days of Kids Kitchen Series here.
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