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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Teaching with Silverware - How to Help Children Learn by Using Everyday Objects (Part 4)

It has taken me longer to write this post for some reason.  I have been under the weather with bronchitis and a double ear infection.  That may have something to do with the delay. (grin)


There are many ways in which silverware or dining utensils can be used to teach children.   Before getting started, it is important to discuss safety with your child.  Knives are sharp tools.  For these lessons I recommend using butter knives, not steak knives.  I would also bring up how to safely hold the utensils when walking.  If they are vertical and pointing up, what would happen if your child tripped?  What would happen if the utensils were horizontal with the floor?  Discuss this with your child.  Model and demonstrate what would happen if you fell on a pointy object versus a flat object.  Now this may seem obvious to you but one thing I have learned in education is ASSUME NOTHING.  Never assume a child knows how to do something.  EXPLAIN EVERYTHING.  I cannot stress these words enough Assume Nothing-Explain Everything. 

Please note that by explaining everything does not mean you lecture, lecture, lecture.  It means you TEACH.  Find out what the child knows through questioning and fill in the gaps.  Sorry but I am passionate about this.  We want children to be able to think but we also need to realize that they need a basis for understanding...

With that said, here are some ideas on how to teach with silverware...

Sorting/Classifying/Categorizing
After washing the dishes or while emptying the dishwasher, have your child sort the utensils into groups.  Discuss shape fork, knife, spoon and size tablespoons vs. teaspoons.

Everyone's drawer is different.  You may have a mismatched set with different patterns or you may have some baby utensils.  Have your child sort and then have him/her explain how he/she grouped the objects.  Ask if there is another way to group them.  Come up with a couple of ways to group them and then decide which one makes the most sense for your purpose.

Purpose
Each utensil has at least one purpose.  A knife cuts so that larger pieces can be broken down into smaller pieces.  A fork pierces the food.  It allows you to pick up odd-shaped food or slippery food.  A spoon scoops so you can eat softer items.  There are just some of the possible purposes a utensil may have.  There is also stirring, whipping, smoothing...  Again this is a great time to play with your child and discuss and explain.  You can use playdoh to test each utensil and determine its purpose.  Discuss what would make sense.  Is a fork used to comb hair?  Why or why not?   Is a spoon used as a shoe, why or why not?  Sometimes the sillier you get with the questions the more engaged your child becomes.  Even though you are having fun, he or she is still learning.

Measuring
You can used a spoon or a fork as a nonstandard unit of measurement and go around predicting how many spoons long an object is and then test it out.  For example I think the TV is five spoons long.  Next line up five spoons and see check your prediction.  This is where you can adjust and determine if it will be more spoons or less spoons.  Talk about how to line up the spoons with the edge of the object and how the spoons cannot overlap.

You can also measure dirt, water, sugar, salt, you name it with teaspoons and tablespoons.  Have a bowl of salt and have your child scoop out five teaspoons in one pile and five tablespoons in another.  Compare.  Do the same with dirt or sugar...Was the result the same?

Shiny/Dull
Introduce the word shiny and then go around the house on a a hunt for other shiny objects like the silverware.

Curved/Straight
Write about why a spoon is curved and not square or straight.  Draw pictures to explain.

Sharp/Smooth
Discuss different type of knives and their purpose.  REVIEW Safety.

Metal/Plastic
Talk about the differences between metal and plastic.  Introduce the word sturdy.  A metal fork is more sturdy than a plastic fork because...   Also discuss how silverware is more durable and will last much longer than the plasticware.

Tools
How is a spoon a tool?  Is it like a shovel?  How is it the same how is it different?  What is a tool?  Design a new kitchen tool?  Explain its purpose.

Viscous
When it comes to liquid a fork is not very effective.  It has to be thicker to not go between the prongs.  This concept can help explain viscous...Just a thought.

As always, I appreciate your input.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.