Two Kids’ Kitchen posts in a row, and both of them are strawberry invitations, but I wanted to expand on how to invite and teach children how to hull strawberries independently and safely. Strawberry hulling is a great practical life activity that helps children refine their fine motor skills, including wrist dexterity (tilt and rotation) for Montessori Preschoolers.
NOTE: Most hullers have serrated tops so they are best for children who will be responsible and heed safety warnings.
Depending on your set-up and environment, you can teach strawberry hulling in a few different ways, but I’ll suggest two here. One is leaving a Montessori tray set up for children to initiate the work when they are ready, leaving the basket empty so that they come to you to provide the strawberries, at which time you can do a quick demonstration of how to use the strawberry huller (personally, I wouldn’t leave the strawberries out due to fruit flies):
Or, you can initiate the lesson at a time that is convenient for you — circle time, snack time, or structured kitchen time. What works best in one setting is not always best in another!
I first taught all of the children how to hull strawberries together during our tennis unit study. Two children used the hullers that I had on hand and two used butter spreaders to cut off the tops. I would have ideally loved to have had a huller for each child, but this worked well and one child who I don’t think was ready for hulling didn’t feel left out because he was one of two using the spreader.
The process should go something like this:
- show the child an orderly set-up and where everything goes — have a spot for the green tops, the finished products and a safe place to cut or hull on top of
- show the child the proper hand grip for the strawberry huller (look at Ella’s hand on the top of this post for a guide if you’re not sure)
- if possible, have a good strawberry and a bruised strawberry ready to inspect; show a standard hull removal for the good strawberry and then point out a plan of action for the bruised one (depending on the purpose, you might have a separate bowl for those, you might throw them in with the green tops, or you might have the child cut the bruised part off after hulling — personally, I wanted to isolate difficulty, so I went over all of the strawberries for the group hulling and removed all bruised ones; I added the extra step of cutting off the bruises when I was later working one-on-one with Ella)
- ask the child to show you one, display another removal if necessary (without correcting, but bringing attention to any aspect you feel the child may have missed)
You could have strict rules about eating as you go, I personally think that it’s fine as long as children aren’t licking their fingers — it’s a great lesson sometimes when children see that snacking along the way reduces their final product, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of a preemptive reward for hard work!
You can also teach children how to slice the strawberries with a strawberry slicer after they have been hulled, which is a lot easier (and safer) than teaching them to slice them up with a knife. Aubrey at Montessori Mischief has a great tutorial for that; we had our strawberries earmarked for ice cream and strawberry shortcakes so we didn’t slice them this time.
What is your favourite way to eat strawberries?