Today’s Montessori practical life lesson introduces squeezing orange juice with a manual juicer. Once again, you might ask: how practical is the use of a manual juicer? All that work and two ounces of juice! And once again, we look at it from the developmental point of view.
What is the child gaining from this activity? Primarily control and strength of hand, which will be needed later in learning to write. Children who do not have strong finger and hand muscles may tire more quickly when writing, or produce less coordinated markings on the page.
All the practical life exercises contribute in some degree to hand strength and fine motor coordination. Juicing, in particular, develops strength. There are other great activities to develop hand strength, such as playing with play dough and scrunching paper, but juice–squeezing adds the challenge of following an organized activity, expanding the child’s awareness and concentration.
And it’s another way to get one’s Vitamin C!
How to Present Squeezing Orange Juice
- Direct: to master the process needed to obtain fresh juice; to learn kitchen skills.
- Indirect: to develop control and strength of hand; independence and concentration.
- child-sized tray
- glass citrus juicer with spout
- juice glass
- glass bowl to hold orange halves
- for cutting and deseeding the orange: small cutting board, round–tipped knife, fork
Montessori Services offers a complete citrus juicing activity.
Prerequisite: Ability to pour from one container to another. The ability to cut the orange in half is helpful; however, you may provide pre-cut orange halves. Depending on your child’s abilities, you may wish to demonstrate a preliminary exercise in cutting and deseeding the orange with a fork.
1. Spread the placemat out. Place the tray on top. Tray holds juicer, bowl of orange halves, glass, and sponge.
2. Grasp an orange half with one hand, cupping the whole peel with your palm.
3. Hold the juicer by the handle or base with the other hand.
4. Center the orange over the juicer’s point and apply pressure. Stand up, if necessary.
5. Press and rotate in a back and forth motion until juice flows out.
6. Set squeezed half aside, and then repeat with the other half.
7. Place the juice glass to the left of the juicer.
8. Lift the juicer with both hands. Center the spout over the glass and pour all the juice. Wipe the lip of the juicer with the sponge.
9. Set the glass aside and invite the child to squeeze two more halves as you just did. Child may drink the juice.
10. Wash all materials together.
Points of Interest:
- Does the child center the orange over the point?
- Does she rotate the orange with pressure?
- Does she exercise enough strength to squeeze out all the juice?
Note: I generally avoid giving children fruit juice. We normally eat the fruit rather than juice it. And I never give sweetened store-bought juice. That said, the little amount of juice obtained from occasionally squeezing an orange or two shouldn’t pose a problem, unless you have special dietary restrictions.