To do: Let your child chop veggies.
Time: 15 minutes
Materials: Plastic or metal knife to cut veggies
Food preparation can be a communal time when families come together to speak about their day and share a meal. Even your youngest children can be a part of that, and we have ideas how.
As we get started, remember to observe your child, then plan activities around their interests. Work with the skills they already have, and slowly build upon them to foster confidence and mastery!
One last note, having the tools and space prepared for your child will help enormously. Choose one cutting board that they can use exclusively. Show them where it is stored.
Choose which utensils you feel safe letting them handle at this time and provide a storage bin/jar at their height.
Lastly, where will they work? At a low table, or on a high stool next to you? Prepare this special kitchen space, and communicate to your child that this is his or her place to do food preparation.
Ok! Let’s get started. Learn Chopping Skills:
Chopping food is pretty satisfying. It makes a nice noise on the cutting board, and it’s fun to create little pieces from a big piece. But letting our children do this? That sounds scary.
Of course, you need work within your comfort zone. Perhaps you do the chopping while your children observe, and they can transfer your ingredients to a bowl! If your child is ready, here are a few tips to gets started:
- Are you afraid your child may hurt themselves using chopping tools? Try alternatives like an enclosed chopper where the blade is contained in glass. Pick foods that don’t need a sharp edge to chop, and use a butter knife or plastic cheese knife. Fruits like strawberries are good for this! Lastly, try something with a handle that fits both of their hands, like a wavy cutter, and instruct them how to hold it properly, never taking their hands off the handle.
- When observing your child playing, do they seem to be in a hurry with quick, imprecise movements? If so, prepare the chopping activity with “Chopping needs to be done very slowly and carefully. We’re not in a hurry! Watch how I do it first.”
- Is your child more detail oriented, getting even the tiniest details just so? They will feel satisfied if the chopping activity involved tiny pieces. Grab a soft fruit or vegetable that needs chopping, and show them exactly the size to make the pieces. This will require all of their concentration, and satisfy their developmental needs!
Recipe to practice cutting: Veggie Salad, or Veggie Medley
Try making a simple Veggie Salad to practice chopping skills! Pick a handful of your favorite vegetable, and decide who will do what. Perhaps an adult can chop the harder veggies like carrots, while your child halves cherry tomatoes.
Raw Veggie Salad: Pick your favorite vegetables, chop them with your child, and add to a bowl with your favorite salad dressing or a dollop of cottage cheese and some seasoning. Super simple, great practice for chopping skills.
Steamed Veggie Medley: For your younger child, try steaming big heads of broccoli, cauliflower, and even green beans. Since they’re softer, it will be easier for your child to chop them! Throw them all in a big bowl, add salt, pepper, cheese, or whatever your favorite seasoning is for a great side dish.
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