Maria Montessori made the observation that young children like to be involved in the daily home activities, and she developed Practical Life activities where children get to emulate adults and perform simple chores like sweeping, dusting, washing dishes and food preparation. This simple activity of spreading jam hones their fine motor skills as they learn to rotate their wrist and spread the jam with precision. Also it trains their independence which builds up their self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy.
The key to practical like activities is to set up learning materials in which the child is able to succeed and do tasks for herself safely.
I prepared the set for my little girl, with utensils including the butter knife and plates that are kids-friendly and safe for her to use.
You will need:
1. Food Tray or placemat ( to prevent mess and spills)
2. Small butter knife
3. Small Jam (These itty bitty ones are from NTUC/ Cold storage!)
4. Toast or crackers/ rice cakes
To begin, I showed my girl how the slice of bread is toasted. She then learned how to open a jar of jam, and got to smell the sweet fragrance of her much-loved strawberry jam!
After that, demonstrate to the child how to spread the jam on the toast. Show your child slowly how to spread the jam by emphasizing small steps such as taking a little bit of jam, and spreading it with the up-down motion, and making sure the whole toast is covered.
As I observed my little girl endeavoring to spread the jam, it requires the rotation of the wrist which certainly trains her for writing in future. She also needs to learn how to control the strength of her fingers while holding the butter knife and it requires coordination of her left hand holding the toast, and right hand maneuvering the knife. It really helped that her knife is little and she could use it with more confidence.
Food is particularly an interesting topic to most children, especially my daughter who loves to eat! Preparing what they are going to eat makes them more motivated to gobble it up! They feel included into the food-making process and gives them a sense of autonomy. I love the petite size of the jam jar, as the quantity she can consume is just right for her.
And the greatest gratification? Eating it up!!