This isn't exactly a kitchen activity although it does involve food and I really wanted to share this with you.
Meg from At Home with Montessori has recently updated her site and as I was checking it out I came across some interesting information about matching work. Meg suggests that a child from around 12 months can be introduced to matching work using identical physical objects, known as Stage 1 Matching Work.
I wanted to try it straight away. I put three pieces of fruit on the mat and gave Otis a bowl with the three matching pieces. The first thing he did was pick up one banana then reached for the second. Match!
Otis totally got this. My items were not identical but they were really, really close. I made sure the fruit were the same size, shape and free from blemishes.
Otis will repeat this activity 3-4 times and it lasts perhaps 3-5 minutes. While Otis does this activity Caspar or I sit with him and pack it up and set it up again. After doing the activity a few times Otis starts throwing the oranges and that's when we know he's had enough and put the activity away. This is not an activity that is going to occupy a child of this age for long periods of time, not in our house anyway, but still absolutely worth doing.
Why matching work?
"The child that has had plenty of experience with matching work will be ready for the added cognitive step of sorting and categorisation.
Sorting, categorisation and classification are all skills that we use when thinking and reasoning about the things we see, hear, touch, taste and smell. They help up to heighten our awareness, focus our attention and verbalise the patterns that we notice. The ability to sort and classify exercises the brain pathways that will later be used in mathematics, science and language." - At Home with Montessori
Honestly I would never have thought to introduce matching work to a child so young. The earliest Caspar was exposed this type of activity was eighteen months. Have you tried matching work yet?