Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cutting With Knives

No, I don't really have a knife "thing." I just think it's important for kids to have the opportunity to practice with the kinds of tools they see in their everyday lives.

In this case, I'm talking about knives again. I've talked about spreading things with knives and now I want to talk about cutting with them.

So, what kinds of knives can children cut with? I'm partial to plastic knives, which have just enough of an edge that they can cut soft things but aren't so sharp that they're likely to cause terrible damage. Yes, you can cut yourself with a plastic knife. I've done it myself. But this is why we talk about safety with the kids. Another choice is a knife similar to the safety pumpkin knives you see at Halloween each year. I have a co-worker who buys them from a local farmstand to keep in her pre-K classroom at all times. You never know when someone will have a need to cut stuff, after all.

What kinds of things can kids cut? Just open your fridge. Strawberries are an obvious one. Mushrooms are easy. Things that you can first cut into strips for the children to then cut into small bits are great. At home my kids will cut green pepper, eggplant, and zucchini this way. Too bad they won't eat any of those things! Here's a partial list of foods to cut, but I'm sure you can come up with many more ideas:
  • cooked eggs
  • red peppers
  • cheese
  • bread slices (maybe for croutons or to take the crusts off)
  • celery
  • strawberries
  • mushrooms
  • zuccini or summer squash
  • grapes
  • apples or pears (cut into slices first)

You see, the list could go on forever. So get cutting!

p.s. If someone in your class or your house really wants to try cutting that big pretzel rod (or something else really crunchy or hard) with a plastic knife, let them. They can't learn if they don't try, but you might want to stand close by to supervise. Do feel free to talk about things we don't cut, like non-edible parts of the room, clothing, and furniture.

Allergy Note: As a general rule, if a person can't safely eat something, he or she shouldn't be asked to prepare it in any way. If you have food allergies in your class, make sure there is something safe for the food allergic student to cut that can still be included in whatever you're cooking and that it won't come in contact with allergenic foods before the food allergic person handles it.

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