Montessori Inspired Salad Bar

A big part of the Montessori philosophy is creating a “prepared environment”- a setting which fosters a maximum amount of independence for your child.  A perfect example of this principal is allowing your child to (help) make their own meals and snacks.  A fantastic place to start is with our Montessori inspired salad bar!

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Ingredients & Supplies:

  • Soft veggies for slicing (like tomato and avocado)
  • Leafy green mix
  • Protein of your choice (we used pesto grilled chicken)
  • Dressing of your choice
  • Plate
  • Egg Slicer
  • Measuring cup/scoop

Presentation:

Creating your prepared environment will be determined, in large part, by the age and independence level of your Little, as well as your personal comfort with your Little using certain kitchen tools.

Personally, I do not allow our 2 yo to use sharp knives.  Therefore, I sliced the tomato and avocado into pieces that would fit into the egg slicer.  Your objective is to find the point where you maximize your Little’s independence and minimize your involvement.

In our home, this means I slice the avocado in half, but my Little removes the peel.  She rinses the tomato and removes the stem, but I cut it in half.  She can pour the leafy green mix into the bowl, since it is  hard for her to scoop out of the bag, but I measured a few teaspoons of dressing into a bowl because I wanted to limit the amount of dressing she could use.  Use your own good judgement.

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One kitchen tool we purchased from Montessori Services that we use over and over again  is the white egg slicer.  From slicing strawberries to avocados (and also hard boiled eggs), my Little has a use for this tool on a daily basis.  She loves using it, and it is safe enough for her to prepare her own snack  with  minimal interference from me!  I feel like this is a fantastic (super affordable) investment for anyone who wants to bring Montessori into their kitchen.

I  laid out the soft vegetables first along with the egg slicer.  If this is your child’s first encounter with this tool, demonstrate it’s proper use and show your Little the wires.  Explain that they must keep their hands out from under the wires and only push down on the slicer with both hands (insuring they won’t have any fingers underneath).  The wires themselves are not sharp, but it would be painful to get a finger caught.

Next, I placed the leafy green mix with a 1 cup measure.  I instructed my Little to take 1 careful scoop.  After that was the small bowl of dressing, which was able to pour over the salad (thank you Foundational Pouring activities!) quite accurately.  Last, I had the plate of cooked chicken, which I’d already cubed.

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The most challenging part of this activity for my little was scooping the  lettuce.  This lets me know we need to add more scooping exercises to our Montessori shelf!  Which part do you anticipate, or did you  find  out, is the most difficult for your Little?  Let me know in the comments!

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My Family Hamentashen Recipe

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As a bonus addition to my Montessori inspired Hamentashen Triangle Exploration activity, here is my  family’s tried and true classic Hamentashen recipe!

Ingredients

1/2 c. shortening

1/2 c. butter or margarine

1 1/4 c. sugar

3 eggs

1/4 c. orange juice, milk, or almond milk

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

4 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling of your choice (jam, Nutella, etc.)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer or with a hand beater, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat until combined .  Add milk and vanilla and continue beating until incorporated.

Fold in flour mixture until just combined. Shape dough into a ball.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Divide ball and roll into 3 disks.

Using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass, cut dough into rounds.  Place rounds on a lined cookie sheet and fill with 1 teaspoon of filling.  Do not over fill!

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Shape into triangles by folding up and pinching the circle into 3 corners.

Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!

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Can’t wait to hear how your Hamentashen turned out in comments!