Our kids love strawberries and they love working in the kitchen with me. I find that they are almost always motivated to work on fruits so they can steal bites along the way.
The problem with strawberries for us is that we used knives to cut the leafy portion in the past. It is a much smaller portion to cut and requires a precision that is difficult for Zach to manage at 4 years old.
Very often, he would cut off half the strawberry! That’s wasteful so I often repeat the job and I just don’t like to be inefficient. When my kids help in the kitchen, I make sure they help and not just compound the work for me. (And they really do help, which is why I’m so thankful for the Montessori method!) Plus I try not to correct their work if I can help it; for me it feels like I’m sending the wrong message that their work isn’t perfect or appreciated. Some kids don’t mind at all, but Matt is a little perfectionist like me and I slowly started to realize that my corrections were making him feel inadequate. He became very hesitant, not wanting to try or do many things. I digress.
Enter strawberry huller! I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but it works great! It was easy to use and made the job go faster.
The ultimate test for me however is whether the kids can use it effectively. I’m so happy to report that it works wonderfully for them! The strawberry huller fits into Zach’s hands perfectly and it has a rubberized grip so it doesn’t slip and slide around. He aims the “claw” at the leafy part and pushes it in. As it goes in, the claw tightens. Then we give it a twist to dislodge the stem and pull it out. The fun part for them is popping it out into a collector bowl.
Here is a video of Zach using the strawberry huller.
Empowering and enabling the children to work effectively in the kitchen is an important part of the process. So whether we do it on a low table or on the kitchen counter, we gather everything we need before we start working. In the beginning, I would have to set everything in place to help them visualize what’s needed, however now that they are more experienced, they frequently get everything by themselves (with some reminders since they might forget a thing or two).
I love that this activity has a wide range of hand movements (whole hand controlled push force, whole hand twisting, and finger press). It exercises those little hand and finger muscles, and provides lots of practice in small controlled movements. (Of course, the job being done by someone else is bonus for me. Yes!)