There’s no lying in saying that Montessori learning is outstanding! Montessori aims to teach practical life skills while allowing the child to learn and grow at their own pace. One of the more daunting processes is meal prep and cooking. I mean honestly, the though of your 18-month-old child waving a knife around it pretty terrifying. It is important to keep in mind that your child will be using tools appropriate for their skill level, size, and age. My children are fine using full-size tools now, but previously they would need smaller “my size” tools and very VERY blunt knives. With that being said, let’s move on to the different sequences for meal preparation.
Slicing can be a very exciting activity for your little one. We started with bananas, very ripe bananas to be exact. The riper the banana, the softer it is. Bananas are very easy to cut for children. There is a lot of space for them to hold the banana without getting to close to their fingers with the knife. The knife should easily glide through the banana and will help your child become successful much quicker than say, cutting and onion. Peeling vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and apples would also fall into this sequence. Be sure to supervise while using a peeler, these can be pretty scary and difficult sometimes!
Spreading is such a fun activity to do. My girls love peanut butter and jelly so we practice this sequence a lot! Spreading can be done with a variety of tools and resources. Things such as butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese are especially easy to work with. Your child can try spreading these foods onto bread, toast, crackers, and vegetables.
3. Making Food Without Heat
Now that your child has mastered the basics, try making meals that do not require heat! These types of things could include making sandwiches, making a smoothie, cracking nuts, making dips, making salad, using a melon baller to make fruit salad, grating cheese, squeezing fruit for juice, and crushing herbs. Trying to find foods your child is interested in may help motivate them to participate.
4. Making Food With Heat
It seems hard to imagine your 2-year-old cooking on the stove or putting food in an out of an oven! Trust me, I’ve been there! There are some easier foods to make than others, for example, you could make applesauce in a crockpot or bread in a bread maker. Maybe have your child prepare a soup. Cookies, brownies, and other sweet snacks are always a hit in this house!
5. Cooking With a Recipe
This method is great for students learning math and fractions. You can use recipe cards and visuals to help your child understand how to recreate a recipe. You can incorporate math while measuring if your child is up to that level. If not, simply following directions and hands-on learning will work miles for any child!
6. Create a New Recipe
This part of the sequence can take some extra prep and patience. Here you will let your child create their own recipe. Allow your child to pick their resources. Document the recipe and ask questions as they go. The recipe may or may not turn out well in the end. This is a good learning process for trial and error and allows your child to have the freedom of creativity and experimentation.
Being patient with your child is the key to success. Understanding there will be a mess, it will take longer, and things may not work our quite right is the mindset needed to practice meal prep sequencing. The long effects of these activities are much larger than the little setbacks that may happen along the way. Be encouraging to your child and allow them to have the space to learn and grow without fear of mistakes or messing up!
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