Updated: Dec 13, 2021
In Montessori education, experiences are the way children can get impressions from the world and learn from it. Practical life activities prepare the child for daily life tasks.
One thing that we do every day is eating, so what a better way to practice skills and learn to prepare food in the kitchen.
Practical life - Kitchen activities develop in children essential skills like coordination, independence, concentration, and order. These activities involve all senses, thus children taste, smell, see, hear, and touch the food in preparation. Simple activities such as stirring, cutting, peeling, washing, pouring, etc., provide children whole structured information with a sequence of steps that will prepare them for more complex tasks. Children’s motor skills (fine and grosser) are in continuous practice while exploring in the kitchen.
Children enjoy being involved in the daily activities of the home. So, take this interest as an opportunity of learning and allow them to help in the kitchen as much as possible. Apart from practicing a specific skill while manipulating the ingredients, these activities build a child's independence and self-esteem, making them feel proud and self-sufficient of the food they have prepared, which is more prompt to eat during mealtime.
Some activities your child can do in the kitchen:
Washing and scrubbing fruits and vegetables
Peeling bananas, carrots, cucumbers, etc.
Cutting vegetables and fruits
Peeling and slicing eggs
Spreading toast or crackers
Adding and mixing ingredients.
Pouring water (have a sponge or a cloth nearby for spills)
Setting up the table
Passing things to you from cupboards
And so much more…
We recommend having ingredients and tools prepared, this will allow you to be more focused on the participation of children during meal preparation. Check our easy - delicious recipes that children can prepare in the kitchen (Montessori kitchen- picture recipes)
Some kitchen activities for your little ones by age:
What children learn from cooking?
Vocabulary from reading the recipes
Counting skills by measure ingredients with you (a sensorial experience with fractions)
Refinement of motor skills
Developing of independence
Developing of self-confidence and self-esteem
Basic chemistry by observing how ingredients change when mixing to create new textures and colors.
Practicing the willpower
Using cooking timers will help children to see how much time it takes to cook a meal.
Use a step ladder or learning tower if working in the kitchen’s counter.
Use aprons for you and your children to protect clothing.
Have an adapted kitchen for them to prepare food. (Have a look at our suggestions on how to create a functional Montessori kitchen for children). You can also have a small table and chair next to the kitchen if preferred.
Always stand between the stove/oven and the child.
Have a child’s sized cleaning supplies handy for your child to clean wet and dry stills (sponges, dustpan, broom, mop, etc.)
If your child needs to move more, invite the child to prepare food standing up, and to bring ingredients from a counter or table away. You can also walk to place dirty dishes into the sink every time you empty one. With this, your child will bring to bear effort and come back ready to concentrate on the next task.
Lower your expectations. Do not expect children to cut ingredients perfectly. There might be spills or food on the floor while preparing meals with children. The time of preparation will take a little bit longer, but it is a precious time for children to acquire scaffolding skills.
Some kitchen utensils recommended for children:
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