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What kitchen utensils would you let pre-school children use

(34 Posts)
teamcullen Sat 07-Nov-09 11:43:55

For instance would you let them use
knives for chopping
vegetable peelers

Or would you rather they just used
mixing tools
rolling pins
cutters etc

Horton Sat 07-Nov-09 11:54:55

How old do you mean by pre-school? I wouldn't let a two year old have a knife but my three year old is perfectly capable of chopping something easy like mushrooms with something not too sharp. No way would I let a child under about seven anywhere near a blender.

duchesse Sat 07-Nov-09 11:58:51

With constant supervision, I would let and encourage mine to use anything non-motorised as soon as they are physically able and able to follow safety instructions. For electricals I'd wait until they were 7 or 8.

teamcullen Sat 07-Nov-09 12:03:26

2and a half to 4 years.
They would be supervised, but the idea would be that they could chop, peal, mash etc independantly or with little help.

The blender would only be used under close supervision to say make fruit smoothies out of what they have chopped up.

Obviosly the knives would not be too sharp. Rather, a sharp table knife as opposed to a sharp paring knife.

verybusyspider Sat 07-Nov-09 22:47:19

Have you seen 'i can cook' on cbeebies? I got some good ideas from that on what to let my almost 3.5yr old use with minimal supervision (got 2 other litter ds's to watch) - mechanical grater that you put stuff in and turn handle, blunt knife (looks like butter knife) scissors for cutting, lots of ripping and tearing things up and getting hands dirty.

I don't let him physically turn on anything electrical as I need him to have clear boundaries of what he can and can't do in the kitchen, I'd worry that he'd try and use blender himself when I wasn't there if I let him turn it on himself - probably paranoid but don't let him plug anything in or physically use it till much older.

LaDiDaDi Sat 07-Nov-09 22:55:07

Dd is 3.6 and I give her a table knife to try to cut things with, ok for courgettes but crap for carrots. She tries to grate stuff but gets fed up.

fledtoscotland Sat 07-Nov-09 23:10:22

DS1 is 2.1 and can stir a cake mixture and will hold the electric hand whisk with me (too heavy for him to hold himself) but he likes to whisk the egg whites. he likes sifting flour and breaking eggs.

I dont let him near a rolling pin as it can be used as a weapon on his baby brother blush

UniS Sat 07-Nov-09 23:18:20

its shorter list to say what my 3.6 yr old isn't allowed to use.

power tools , large sharp knives, the cooker controls, new spud peeler as its is VERY sharp and I've sliced myself with it by accident twice ( the old one is fine tho hes just not very ept with it).
Other wise he does most cooking stuff with supervision and appropriate PPE ( apron, oven gloves etc) .

feedthegoat Sat 07-Nov-09 23:29:01

Am I the only lax mother who allows a 3 year old to use a blender/food processor then? blush Obviously only when I am closely supervising.

I've always prefered to bake with him using the processor as he has an egg allergy and I'm always worried with an open bowl that there is a risk he will touch/eat it. But on the otherhand I don't want him not to be able to do fun things like baking so it seemed like a good compromise.

teamcullen Sat 07-Nov-09 23:41:29

The idea is more about letting children explore food in its raw form rather than making and baking recipes.

So if they try to peal a potato with a pealer and just take a few chunks out it, its fine.

I think the idea of using softer fruits and vegetables with a table knife is a good idea for chopping.

So do you think these utensils would be safe and easy to use.

Blunt knife
grater (the small hand held or larger stand up one)
vegetable pealers
manual mixing tools (whisks)
nail brushers to scrub vegetables

duchesse Sat 07-Nov-09 23:51:21

What sort of supervision are we talking? Ratio of adults to children? In a family setting, absolutely fine I would think. At nursery I would probably aim for no more than 5-6 children per adult for supervision purposes, and have them seated around a table with their adult so they see what's going on at all times.

teamcullen Sun 08-Nov-09 00:12:21

It would be at nursery. We have a general rule of 4 to a table. But it would be alongside other activities so the children could come and go as they please but a member of staff would be at the table to supervise.

Cooking and food making activities are quite
structured and staff lead at the moment so this would much more relaxed and a kind of role play rather than achieving an edible end result.

We have a high propotion of children who dont always get a good balanced diet at home and are looking for new ways in which they can have good relationships with food and healthy eating.

Im glad that most MNetters are happy for their DCs to use equiptment in the kitchen other than plastic spatulas

Runoutofideas Sun 08-Nov-09 07:59:04

You can get really good little red knives with serrated blades that I use with my children. They can cut vegetables with them but are unlikely to cut themselves, although they could be used for stabbing without close supervision! I noticed that they had the same ones at our pre-school too. Will try to link "knives (( SubCat=&viewAllOutlet=))"

Runoutofideas Sun 08-Nov-09 08:00:17

(( viewAllOutlet=))

Runoutofideas Sun 08-Nov-09 08:01:40

Ah - give up . It's a pampered chef one called a safe cutter.

Last go I promise
(( =&viewAllOutlet=))

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 08:11:17

TC, sounds like fun.
I would have no problem doing any of that in my nursery.

We have kitchen utensils in our malleable area for the children to use when they use the playdough. Even a real knife (it is blunt). Some people just don't get it. 'OMG, is that a real knife?' shock

Horton Sun 08-Nov-09 09:20:53

Here is the knife from above.

I find a table knife, like the kind I would eat dinner with, is fine for mushrooms, soft fruit, courgettes etc. Also, the Tommee Tippee toddler cutlery set has a serrated knife that actually cuts.

As someone said above, it's not that I don't think my three year old couldn't use the food processor with close supervision, it's just that I would worry that she would be tempted to turn things on when I'm not looking. Hence I have strict rules about not using electrical stuff, fiddling with knobs on cooker etc. Although I do let her use the whisk with me and she hasn't tried to turn that on alone yet.

I think it sounds a lot of fun, teamcullen. I think just exploring and playing with food like this is brilliant for combating fussiness, too.

teamcullen Sun 08-Nov-09 12:29:30

Thanks everyone. I was expecting to get more of a shock horror response, so Im glad I didnt.

Runoutofideas and Horton that knife does look good, but I think it might be a good idea to use dinner knives to start with and maybe introduce those types later on when the children know and use the safety rules and the novilty of a new idea has worn off a bit.

campion Sun 08-Nov-09 13:44:52

Sorry to add a negative note but you need to do a proper risk assessment here. Children under 5 -6 don't have the physical coordination to handle most knives properly for safe food prep so need one to one supervision. Peelers can be a problem too as the blade is sharp and can nick bits out of fingers.

There are lots of food activities you can do with small children which don't involve them using knives. For instance - mixing dough and using cutters,making sandwiches including fun shapes and exciting fillings, spreading icing,squeezing and pouring orange juice ( someone else cuts them in half),peeling fruit - bananas, oranges, satsumas or peeling hard boiled eggs and crushing with a fork, etc etc.

I'm a big fan of children learning to cook / appreciating food / knowing more about foods. A table knife is probably ok for them to use but I'd still supervise closely - it's very easy to slip when cutting.As for anything electrical - just don't.

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 13:52:27

campion, I disagree. I think that teamcullen is to be applauded for letting the children in her care take risks.
Perceived risk is very different to actual risk.

duchesse Sun 08-Nov-09 15:53:17

campion- I also utterly disagree with you. In a time when children have never lived so far from reality, we are witnessing the behaviour that arises from lack of risk-taking and lack of skill with potentially dangerous items (note I said "potentially"- a thing is only dangerous if mishandled either through lack of skill or deliberately) in the dangerously unhinged risk-taking of some teens and older children. If children grow up knowing how to handle potential hazards, they have a far greater understanding of how to avoid those hazards than if they've been kept wrapped in cotton wool for their first 12 years. We are actually becoing as a nation the laughing stock of the world for our extreme aversion to risk.

I think that Teamcullen is to be heartily applauded for introducing this into her nursery's curriculum.

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 16:34:37

It seems we are all on Teamcullen grin

teamcullen Sun 08-Nov-09 16:41:08

Campion- Thanks for your concern. However our nursery is a non profit nursery run by a board of governers, so I can assure you that a full risk assessment would be carried out before any activities take place. We would also speak with the children and allow them to discuss the risks and develop their own rules for handling equiptment. As well as informing parents in the benefit of food play.

The idea was actually in a recent artical in Nursery World, so its not something I have come up with on a whim, and Im certainly not about to go dishing sharp knives out willy nilly.

We already do a lot of the activities that you mentioned, with children making their own snack once or twice a week. As I mentioned earlier, these activities would be more role play and less about eating, being able to explore textures and establish food in its raw form.

We are planning on having a vegetable garden next year. the children will plant, harvest and eat what we produce. It would be a shame if they missed the step of preparing the vegetables once they came out of the ground, as they would learn so much more.

comfortablynumb Sun 08-Nov-09 16:51:44

My six year old son has been using proper paring knives to cut up apples, carrots etc since before he was three. Always under supervision. Even now I would not leave him in the kitchen alone with one as I'm well aware of how many times I've cut my fingers since I was an adult. He has only cut himself once and it was a saultory lesson. It is far more dangerous to allow children to try to cut with a blunt knife as the chance of injury is much greater.

CaptainUnderpants Sun 08-Nov-09 16:57:36

At our playgroup we have fruit cutting for snack time whcih the children cut the fruit them selves .

They use table knives , s4 or 5 of them sat round a table with an adult .

For alot of children it is the only time that they use a knife- onoy eat with fork or spoon etc.

there are obviously rules - no walking round , no waving in air , if not using it put it on table.

OFSTED thought it was great.

Children range from 2.5 yrs to school age

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