Child's Cutlery Set
A set of four utensils for young children;
- Knife (blunt - rounded edge)
- Larger Spoon
- Smaller Spoon
Each piece of stainless steel cutlery resembles the 'real' cutlery used by adults. A child will feel empowered by being trusted to use this attractive and 'real' cutlery (as opposed to the plastic imitations of cutlery that are common for children).
The base of each piece of cutlery is subtly imprinted with a little animal insignia. An elephant on the fork, a giraffe on the knife, a lion on the larger spoon and a monkey on the smaller spoon. These animal icons provide a 'point of interest' to engage the child's curiosity about the cutlery. They also provide a practical method of distinguishing the child's cutlery from the rest of the cutlery in the household. This makes it easier for the child to take responsibility for washing or storing his/her own cutlery.
The cutlery is dishwasher safe - so if your home (or school) environment introduces the Practical Life work of 'loading the dishwasher' then these pieces can be incorporated into that task.
The use of cutlery also leads to lots of other meaningful Practical Life experiences. For instance, an older toddler or Pre-school child can learn to 'set the table' (as described eloquently here by Living Montessori Now).
The Montessori 'setting the table' exercise often involves printing a template to place on the table (some printables are available online or you can simply trace around the cutlery on a regular placemat).
At my own Pre-school, however, I have found that these placemats tend to become redundant quite quickly. I have discovered through experience that most children seem to quickly absorb the arrangement of the cutlery and crockery just through demonstrations.
Instead of using a template I now start by just showing the child how to arrange three pieces - the plate in the middle with the knife and fork on the left and right respectively. Once they master this pattern I add the placement of the spoon. We then progress to adding a glass and eventually a napkin. I find that the majority of children competently and confidently recreate the patterns without needing the template so I tend to keep our templates stored away 'just in case'!
I also find that encouraging the child to focus on absorbing and recalling the visual pattern - rather than just copying the template - seems to add a degree of cognitive challenge to the exercise and a greater sense of satisfaction for the child. Parents and educators may wish to experiment with using the template or you may find, as I did, that the child is able to master the concept without this scaffolding.
The website Aid to Life provides some fantastic tips to arrange your child's kitchen environment at home. At Aid to Life you can find out more about...