Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (at no cost to you).
“It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed. Work influences his development in the same way that food revives the vigor of a starving man. We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile.” (Maria Montessori, San Remo Lectures, p. 28, Source: AMI)
As I read this quote, it occurred to me that I have never come across a child who would misbehave while being given the earnest chance to prepare a meal.
Every time my children are given the opportunity to cook, they turn into angels. There emerges an immense love of learning when you hear them asking “Is this how I do it? Like this, mommy?” There emerges a spirit of obedience when you observe them listening closely like never before to your every instruction and following it to a T.
Sure, there will be accidents, spills, mistakes — but these are genuine, due to the undeveloped hand, and not as a result of disobedience. There is no throwing food around, testing his boundaries, or defiance.
When a child is given a chance to use his hands to create something for the purpose of living, for giving and sharing, for enjoying the simple joys of the world, he gains the skills, values and memories that will last him a lifetime.
Armed with the right child-sized tools and plenty of chances to practice, an egg salad sandwich is one of the easiest meals that a child can prepare almost entirely by himself at age three.
Child-sized kitchen tools we used:
- Egg masher
- Peppermill (you don’t really need anything fancy, ours is probably $5 from our local grocery store. It just needs to be about 4-5″ tall and not those big restaurant types.)
- Pitcher of milk
- Child-sized tumblers
I’m going to assume that you know how to make an egg salad sandwich. Ours has very basic ingredients, nothing fancy — hard boiled eggs, bread, a dash of salt. We didn’t even use mayonnaise! But you can of course add anything else that you like.
Tips to ensure a stress-free experience:
- Gather all needed items beforehand. I loaded everything that we needed onto a tray. From there on, I didn’t even have to get up from my seat — Z would listen to my instructions and get the next ingredient. It became a genuine practice of listening skills.
- Use child-sized items. Everything we used here are child-sized, including the table and chairs which we are working on in the video. It helps to promote success and reduce frustration in a child.
- Have a wet cloth handy. Not dripping wet, but wet and wrung dry. This helps to keep all tools in place instead of sliding all over, and we also used it for quick wipe-ups. Z is also very particular about having clean hands so it was necessary for him to wipe his hands very often.
- Take your time, savor the moment. We probably spent an hour from start to finish. Can you imagine an hour of just sitting back, relaxing, watching your child practice valuable skills with complete self-control and obedience? It was heaven for me!
I’m so excited to be partnering with Study At Home Mama to bring you 31 Days of Kids’ Kitchen Activities! You will find everything from child-friend kitchen set ups, child-made recipes, to kitchen science experiments. Getting kids in the kitchen is a great way to build confidence, develop fine motor skills, and have fun as a family, while creating positive food values.