Learning to Use a Knife – Cooking with Kids, Part 5

By Ebony Porter, June 21, 2017, Family

Welcome to Cooking with Kids from Bounce Energy! Think of the kitchen as a science lab or a living classroom. It contains so many elements that can provide hands-on learning opportunities for your kids – measuring, learning temperature, time, chemistry, fermentation, and more. Join us as we show you how to introduce your kids to the best room in the house!

Working with a knife is an essential part of becoming a confident, good cook! But when cooking in the kitchen with children, safety is more important than ever, especially when sharp utensils are involved.

If you want your child to feel empowered in the kitchen, then teach them the proper way to handle and use a knife. Working with a knife can begin when they are in Kindergarten, and slowly, over time, they can advance to using sharper edges.

Here we share tips on how to introduce knives to your children, to slowly build their confidence in using one of the kitchens most important tools.

Learning to Use a Knife - Cooking with Kids, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Never Walk with a Knife

Something my mother taught me early on is to never walk around the house with the knife blade facing outward! People can move unexpectedly, and the last thing you want is for someone to run into your long blade.

Also don’t leave knives near the edge of a countertop, as they could fall to the ground and stab you in the foot, or a younger, curious child, may put their little fingers to the edge of the table, hold onto the knife, and cut themselves.

Right Side Up

Make sure to show your child that there are two edges on the knife. It’s important that the cutting edge faces down.

If they end up trying to cut food with the blunt side, they risk slipping the knife out of their hands as the knife won’t have found the grip it needs into the food.

How to Hold a Knife

Just like it’s important to show a child how to hold a pencil properly, so too is it to show them how to hold a knife. They need to be focused, to not take their eyes off what they’re cutting, and to be sure their other hand isn’t in the way of the field of cutting.

Their thumb should wrap around one side of the knife handle, and the rest of the hand should hold on firmly. If the knife is too big for their hand, then we suggest using another that’s smaller in size.

Learning to Use a Knife - Cooking with Kids, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Safe Cutting Surface

A marble countertop or other slick surface isn’t the best place for your child to learn to use a knife. Be sure and use a designated wooden cutting board, or an acrylic board that makes cutting safe. 

Start Simple with Young Ones

For children 4 years of age and older, its safe, under supervision, for them to work with a butter knife, preferably one that doesn’t have a serrated edge.

They can spread butter onto crackers or toast, and make their PB&J sandwiches for lunchtime. Sure, there will be a mess, but what pride they will have making their own meal!

Using a Serrated Knife

Once your child reaches age 6, it’s safe to introduce a serrated knife. If you have one with a rounded tip that is preferable.

Show them how to move the blade back and forth, slow and steady, with one hand on the food and their other hand on the knife. Items to practice on with a serrated knife are soft fruits like pineapple, watermelon, and strawberries.

Learning to Use a Knife - Cooking with Kids, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Working with a Sharp Blade

Once you are fully confident with their skills in using a serrated edge, work up to using a sharper blade.

We recommend a child being at least 12 years of age before using a large knife. Show them how to chop parsley, slice cheese, peel the skin off a mango, and dice cucumbers.

Washing a Knife

Show your child how to wash a knife, before they attempt to do it. Hold the handle in one hand, and curl your dish sponge around the knife on the blunt side. Again, the blade must be turned outwards.

Fruit Salad

Test your child’s skills and have them make a fruit salad!

Wash all fruits and lay on a dishtowel to drip dry. Here they show their knife skills in peeling fruit, slicing around fruit stones, and slicing the tops off strawberries.

Slice all fruit, including grapes, and place in a large bowl. Serve for breakfast, lunch or as dessert for dinner!

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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