As toddlers grow they become more observant and helpful with the activities that parents do every day. These are what Maria Montessori calls Practical Life Activities. One important aspect of practical life is food preparation.
Make your kitchen safe and accessible to your toddler. One can have a low drawer for their own utensils that they use, have a special place in the fridge for their food and drink that they can serve themselves. To allow toddlers to help you in the kitchen, a stool that gives them access to the kitchen bench is helpful. An apron can also be good to help with the mess. Remember, every time you start an activity in the kitchen teach your child good habits by always washing hands.
Benefits of food preparation activity:
- This activity makes the food more appetising to the child as they have had an important contribution as to how the meal is made. A good strategy for toddlers who are picky with food.
- It helps develop fine motor skills.
- Teaches the value of food and hygiene that goes with its preparation.
SIMPLE FOOD ACTIVITIES THAT YOU CAN DO AT HOME:
1. Spreading of butter or spread on a piece of toast or cracker.
Start this activity by having all the materials such as a small spreader or a small butter knife that will make it easier for your child to use, rather than the adult ones which may be too heavy for them. Have a plate for the mess to be contained and a small bowl of a small amount of spread (jam, etc), so that there won’t be too much waste when the toddler attempts it for himself.
2. Making a garden salad
This is a great activity for toddlers since there are a lot of ingredients and you can let your child do one depending on his ability. Have a colander in which each vegetable leaf can be washed. If your child is older you can give him a small sharp knife and allow him to cut cucumbers (tomatoes are particularly difficult to slice and should not to be introduced early). With cucumbers, you can also ask your child to peel it with a hand peeler. Place the cucumber on the chopping board while the child peels it.
3. Preparing apples
This activity is made child friendly by having an apple corer which can be found in shops. Cut the apple crosswise in half. Place the apple flat side down on the cutting board. Let the child push the corer down offering minimal assistance. Using small tongs, you can place each apple slice in a prepared bowl.
4. Peeling a hard-boiled egg
This is a great activity for refining motor skills. Cook the hard-boiled egg and cool. When cooled, crack the shells gently and peel a piece or two to start off the process then allow your child a turn. Once the egg is peeled with some of the white gone, cut the egg using an egg slicer. Use tongs to remove the egg pieces from the slicer.
5. Juicing an orange
Cut the orange in half with a sharp knife. Have the juicer ready and a jug for the juice to be placed. Allow the child to squeeze the orange and finish it off. Allow them to pour the juice in a jug, add water and sugar as desired.