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*Please note: The photos in this post show an older model of the Apple Slicer. These images are still relevant for the purposes of explaining the tool but please be aware that the product now being sold is the red Slicer shown in the first gallery image (not the white slicer shown in the example photos). The new Red Apple Slicer features handles that are easier for a child to grasp and which keep little fingers further away from the sharp areas, making it more effective and safer!
The Apple Slicer is a bit of a quintessential 'Practical Life' Montessori material.
It's a quite unique tool and provides a range of benefits;
- It promotes healthy eating by offering a fun, interesting way of preparing and presenting apples. As many parents and teachers will testify, it can be challenging to keep a child enthusiastic about fresh fruit - especially when media and marketers are so skilled at pushing packaged and/or sugary treats in front of their faces! So any tool that adds a bit of a new twist to fresh fruit, and therefore makes it more appealing and eagerly received, has got to be a good thing! I've seen lots of children try apple for the first time simply because they've used the slicer to press it into cute little segments!
- It allows the child to exercise motor control and coordination with a particular emphasis on strength. There are multiple methods for using the Slicer (see below) but either way it requires a strong, consistent force from the child to push the blades down into the flesh. Many food preparation tasks focus solely on fine motor coordination but don't involve gross motor movements, whereas this tool actively involves the upper body and core strength.
- It encourages self-control and responsible behaviour. There is a real risk inherent in this material - when force is applied to the tool the blades are able to slice through fruit and this does mean that there is a danger of discomfort if the child uses it roughly or irresponsibly. The same can be said of many common kitchen tools and these types of tools give a child a strong but natural incentive to exercise caution and self-control. Many educators and parents therefore feel that the risk is not only outweighed by the benefit but is in fact a benefit in itself! To learn more about managing risk please see our Safety Suggestions.
Some teachers and families might be accustomed to seeing the Apple Slicer used on a whole apple as shown in this example photo below:
I personally find it safer, more effective and more engaging to add a preparatory step of the child cutting the apple into rings (we use the Kiddie Food Kutter knife) then using the Apple Slicer to create small segments.
This method seems to allow a greater level of independence for the child because slicing a whole apple tends to require an adult to assist (particularly when getting it started). I'm definitely not the only Montessorian who chooses this option - the lovely Aubrey of Montessori Mischief was delighted when she recently discovered this alternative.
It is up to you to decide which method you prefer (and I recommend testing each option yourself before presenting to a child) but I will recommend and demonstrate my preferred method below.
When used with this method the Apple Slicer is enhanced by the presence of a prolonged procedure that promotes executive functions such as forward-planning, following complex steps and maintaining focus.
The final step of the procedure (as with any Practical Life work!) is washing up, which we do with our beautiful wooden Dish Brush.