The smell of pumpkin pie, spending time with loved ones, indulging in a great home-cooked meal and feeling grateful for all you have. Who doesn’t love a holiday celebration? With Thanksgiving right around the corner we thought we would put a blog post together that encourages not only Montessori-based learning, but also togetherness and quality family time, right in your own home. Kids tend to love helping out in the kitchen, they learn very quickly, and getting them involved in meal preparation is one of the best ways to raise healthy eaters.
In addition to getting them interested in healthy foods (which we highly encourage here at Eden Prairie Montessori!), inviting children to join you in the kitchen helps them gain confidence and develop important skills such as hand-eye coordination, reading, and math. Remember that it is a lot more fun and interesting for kids when they are given their own responsibilities rather than just watching, so a hands-on approach is key. Your encouragement and praise goes a long way in helping them thrive! Just remember to supervise and keep things age appropriate for safety reasons, and watch your little ones have an awesome time.
Here is a list of tasks children can do to help with Thanksgiving dinner, broken down by approximate age group…
Children around one to two years old:
● Washing vegetables and fruit
● Scrubbing potatoes
● Getting different things out of the cupboards and carrying ingredients from one place to
another (you’ll need to move things down low for this to work)
● Buttering bread – give your child a small amount of butter in a dish with a small spreader.
● Pour water – you could have a dispenser down low or a small jug on a low table. Have a
sponge or cloth nearby for spills.
● Ripping bread apart for stuffing
● Put things in trash bin
Children two to three years old:
● Mixing, stirring and pouring
● Breaking cauliflower & broccoli into smaller pieces
● Cutting softer vegetables, eg, mushrooms
● Tearing lettuce for salad
● Washing and spinning lettuce
● Squeezing lemon slices
● Scooping dry ingredients into measuring cups
● Shelling peas
● Peeling onions and garlic
● Shake liquids to mix in small container with lid
● Rinsing plastic bowls in sink
Children three to four years old:
● Following simple recipes with you
● Mixing batter
● Scooping yams out of the skins
● Peeling hard boiled eggs and use an egg slicer to cut
● Helping cut cucumber slices and tomatoes for salad
● Peeling apples for pie with a safety peeler
● Helping to set the table – have dishes down low in the cupboard so your child can reach them
● Wiping table and countertops
Children four to five years old:
● Cut parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors
● Measure ingredients using measuring spoons and cups
● Cracking eggs
● Use an egg beater or whisk
● Mixing and rolling out pie dough
● Mashing potatoes
● Whipping cream
● Grating cheese or vegetables
● Helping use can opener
● Using spice shakers & adding seasoning with supervision
● Kneading and shaping dough for bread or rolls
Other notes and ideas to keep in mind:
● Always use age-appropriate, child-friendly & safety utensils and kitchen tools.
● Once they are standing steadily you could use a step ladder, stool or learning tower.
● Always stand between your child and the stove.
● Try to prepare the ingredients and materials ahead of time- have them accessible and ready.
● When possible, take tasks like chopping to the dining table and work together there.
● Don’t expect perfection – the vegetables may not be perfect sticks, some may fall on the
ground, spills will happen, and things may take longer. This is part of the learning process.
● Be prepared for a mess. Have sponges within easy reach for cleaning and spills.
● Be patient, loving, and use positive & encouraging words.
● A child-sized apron is not only useful, it is a nice way to make them feel special.
● Most importantly, recognize how they have helped as part of the dinner conversation.
Have an awesome Thanksgiving with your family, from us here at Eden Prairie Montessori Learning Center!