Teaching kids knife skills

As a trainee teacher in design and technology one thing which I am constantly repeating over and over is “bridge and claw” – this is the method we use to teach knife skills to our children from year seven and I have found myself repeating it to the GCSE groups too. Some pupils could rival Gordon Ramsey with their culinary skills whilst others have never been let loose in a kitchen and so this has made me think about that ways in which I engage with food at home with Arlo.

Of course he’s been helping me in the kitchen for well….. forever. When he was a baby he would relax in his sling whilst I cooked and then weaning was such a great time for us both, I embraced all of the sensory play and the mess and haven’t looked back – but when it comes to developing his knife skills that’s something I’ve been very cautious about. Even when we moved on to toddler cutlery he would have a spoon and a fork and I would help cut his food up in to bite sized pieces. He has always however been curious and a willing assistant to me in the kitchen (although he will tell you he’s the head chef).

I thought giving him various cookie cutters and then eventuall lollipop sticks with some play dough would help him learn, and he did seem to be getting the hang of the bridge and the claw method right back at that stage when he was barely two. I’ll briefly explain both just so you know what I mean. Of course both require a chopping board, but that goes without saying.

The Bridge

You make a bridge over the item you’re cooking with your hand, fingers on one side and thumb on the other. Then you slide the life through that gap underneath down through the food, a bit like a train going through a tunnel. This is the way I’ve explained it to Arlo.

The Claw

This method is different, in that you hold your fingers together and bend them in at the first knuckle joint a bit like a crab. Then you use the knife in your other hand and move your fingers back with each cut. We are working on this new technique at the moment and Arlo takes great care but does have a tendency to drift off after one or two slices so constant supervision is required.

When Arlo seemed to have grasped the concept and was able to demonstrate the bridge method to me I began letting him practice with a blunt butter knife and some soft fruits – namely strawberries and then other things like mushrooms. This managed to appease him for quite a while and he would stand up at the kitchen worktop with me and “help” but more recently he’s realised that I tend to be cooking with entirely different ingredients and this is where new knives from Kuhn Rikon have been a game changer for us. Arlo won’t be fobbed off and these are ideal.

These Kinderkitchen knives have been designed specifically with Children in mind and we were sent out two to try out. From a brand renowned for its quality I felt confident enough to test these out with Arlo from the off and when they arrived I inspected them briefly and could see the strength of the stainless steel and unique features such as the blade being honed enough to cut but nowhere near as sharp as an adult blade. The ergonomically designed handle is made from a durable plastic and has encapsulated the design of a dog in to its safety features – the ears make a finger guard which fits Arlo’s hand perfectly.

Arlo and I can enjoy preparing some of our favourite meals together in the kitchen from scratch – and here’s the proof in the pudding (or beef stew). I’m really impressed with these knives and highly recommend them to families with budding young chefs.

Knives provided for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions expressed e my own

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