Many parents and educators will be familiar with Fruit Chopping sets. These are a popular activity in many classrooms and homes, encouraging children to engage in an early exercise that promotes hand-eye coordination and encourages interest in food preparation. The use of Fruit Chopping sets also seems to inspire social interaction as most children will spontaneously engage a peer, or adult, in the role-play of receiving the segments.
It is important to note that, from a Montessori perspective, the ideal experience for children is to engage in real food preparation. I would not suggest that the Fruit Chopping exercise is ever a substitute or replacement for real, meaningful practical experiences such as cutting actual fruit. Instead the Fruit Chopping exercise can be an alternative or complementary exercise for the occasions when real fruit is not available (or when the conditions of the environment don't allow for immediate food preparation). Please remember, however, to include lots of real food preparation opportunities for the child. (We have lots of tools to help with these real experiences, such as our Kiddie Food Kutter knives).
The wooden Fruit Chopping set includes five different fruits - orange, lemon, green apple, strawberry and kiwi fruit - and a wooden chopping board.
Please note, I personally find that the wooden knife supplied has a 'blade' that is slightly too thick to fit comfortably between the wooden pieces if they are squeezed together tightly. You can demonstrate to the child how to leave a little gap between the pieces and then gently nudge the wooden blade it. Alternatively (and what I prefer to do) you can substitute the wooden knife with a regular butter knife (or one of our spreaders).
Remember to use the Fruit Chopping set to introduce the mathematic concept (and the corresponding vocabulary) of 'halves' and 'wholes'.
There are lots of different sets of the Fruit Chopping activity and I have used several in my own classroom. The quality that appeals to me about this particular set is that it has an earthy, organic appearance. It features realistic, subdued colours and the wood contains a faint grainy pattern that lends a sense of authenticity that is not present in some other sets (particularly those which are plastic or feature gaudy, neon colours). This set also has a few little details that again enhance the sense of realism and aesthetic appeal - for instance, the interiors of each fruit feature little patterns such as indents to represent the seeds of the apple or the ridges that show the segments of the orange (as shown below).