Monday, May 14, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen: Teaching Tips

The more the kids and I cook together the more I realize there's a lot of stuff to learn (that I hadn't thought of making into a lesson).  "Chop" is really good at chopping, but when she comes across a blemish in a fruit or veggie she's preparing she has no idea what to do.  She stops dead in her tracks!  She's not sure if she has to throw out the whole strawberry or if she can just cut around the goo.  

Also, different kinds of food require a different amount of peeling or chopping, and some of this is really specific to family preferences.  For instance, in our family we wash the mushrooms (I know, I know--the pros on the cooking shows never wash them because they say it makes them too rubbery!) and just trim off the end of the stem.

Since we're cooking for little ones we remove all of the gross stringy stuff in chicken that they might choke on.  But you have to give the kids a feel for how picky to be about that...... (Mommy and Daddy are a little different in this department, which I'm sure the kids pick up on!)

When I was a child we were told to rinse raw chicken before cutting, but I think now the recommendation is not to (because that only spreads germs in your sink?).  Have you heard this, too?  We use a separate (plastic) cutting board for raw meat and we stick the knife and cutting board directly into the dishwasher.  

This is a lot of stuff to remember!  When you do it automatically it's hard to remember to pass it on to your children--whatever your family habits may be.

Another thing I hadn't realized was a "skill" -- how to measure flour.  You scoop it out and run a knife along the top, right?  You may have learned that so young that you didn't even consider it a skill!

One of the nice things about Montessori lessons is that they break up a single lesson into several discrete steps.  With that approach in mind, slow down in the kitchen with your children and think about all the mini lessons you might pass along.


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