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Baking at the Child's Level + Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocchi at How we Montessori independent baking three year old (1)

Are you looking for something new to make with your children? I love making Gnocchi with Otto (36 months). I set the activity on his low cooking table so he can reach everything he needs. Bringing the activity down to the child's level is a good idea if possible. It tells the child 'this is your baking'. The child takes the lead and I am there to help and guide when needed.

Gnocchi is great for children who like to get their hands dirty and for those who love play-dough. The Gnocchi dough needs rolling and cutting and this rolling is very similar to the way we often use play-dough.

I halve our usual recipe to make it smaller and more manageable. The ingredients include 400g potatoes mashed. I peel, chop the potatoes into smaller pieces and then steam them. When soft I finely mash them. I could include Otto in this process but I find his attention span wouldn't last to making the Gnocchi. We include 1 cup of flour, 1 egg, roughly 10 grams of grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt. We use extra flour for flouring our hands and the board, and if the dough is too sticky sometimes we need to add just a little extra flour.

I present all the ingredients as above so Otto just needs to dump all the ingredients and mix. 

Otto adding egg to gnocchi at How we Montessori

While Otto loves to crack eggs, today I've presented the egg in a bowl and everything else is pre-measured and ready to go.

Montessori child making gnocchi at How we Montessori pouring flour

If we were making Gnocchi as adults we would make a well in the bottom of the flour for the egg and slowly combine it (just like when making pasta). I can demonstrate this to Otto another time. At three years I'm happy for his more rustic but child led Gnocchi. 

Otto adding cheese to gnocchi at How we Montessori

Every time we make Gnocchi Otto spends different amounts of time at different stages. Today he spent a long time adding the ingredients, he added each of them so slowly and bit by bit (also eating lots of the cheese). Today he spent less time mixing. This is the child telling us what they need. If possible, we allow the child to work at their own pace. I stay nearby (doing my own work), I'm not standing over or rushing the child. This allows the child to enjoy what is important to them at that exact moment. 

Otto mixing gnocchi dough at How we Montessori

Mixing the Gnocchi dough is tough and I help a little and bring the dough together. 

Cutting gnocchi at How we Montessori Otto three years

Otto loves playing with flour! I roll the dough into around five equally sized balls. Together we turn each ball in to a long snake. Otto cuts each snake into smaller Gnocchi pieces. 

Rolling gnocchi at How we Montessori Otto three years

Each ball is then rolled and placed on a plate for cooking. Gnocchi is super easy to cook. We add the pieces to boiling water and as each piece rises to the top we scoop it out, it usually cooks in less than 5 minutes. We serve with a pasta sauce and extra cheese. 

Otto making gnocchi Montessori toddler

This is another picture of Otto making Gnocchi a few weeks ago, I've rolled the dough and cut the pieces here so it's slightly tidier. If you are making Gnocchi with the child for the first time you will need to be more hands-on, but I promise it's like most things, the more the child does it the better they become at it, even at three!

P.S If you have a tastier Gnocchi recipe for us to try please leave me a message.  

Resources: Orange Dog Knife, Children's Fruity Cross Back Apron.

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