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!
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
- Egg Slicer
- Measuring cup/scoop
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.
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.
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!