Learning to Tie A Knot - at 3 to 4 yrs
Wood Working with Kids Ideas - for Preschool & PreK

Practical Life Ideas - Spice & Coffee Mills, Nut Chopper & Olive Pitter

Montessori grinders choppers and pitting at How we Montessori 2021 (1)

Today I'm sharing a few of our new practical life trays that are for older three-year-olds to four-year-olds. Otto pictured here is 3yrs and 8months (44 weeks) and these are all new to him, I would not have introduced them sooner as they require a bit of strength and coordination, but you know your child best. A couple of weeks ago I introduced filling the pepper mill and my child loved not only filling but using the pepper mill. So I've expanded on this mill/grinding type of activity. I hope you find some of these ideas useful!

Spice grinder practical life activity at How we Montessori

This Spice Mill is new, it's beautiful and fun to use (similar here). Depending on what you have in your cupboard or what you like to cook, a nutmeg grinder has a similar motion and would be equally enjoyable to use. 

Spice grinder at How we Montessori

The opening slides open and the child fills it with whole spices, here we are using coriander seeds. This requires focus and coordination as the opening is small. 

Spice grinder at How we Montessori

The child closes the opening and turns that handle to grind the spices. The spice mill is small and fits in the child's hand. 

Spice grinder at How we Montessori

This is fantastic work for strengthening the hands. The whole house smells wonderful afterwards. The child can then empty the ground spice from the collection chamber at the bottom of the spice mill. I know many teachers would prefer a transparent grinder/mill so the child can see what is happening inside, and Montessori Services has an alternative type of manual spice grinder here. We can store the ground spice or use it when cooking later. 

Montessori practical life bread crumbs or nut chopper  dried fruit

We have this small nut chopper, which also chops dried fruit. I know many schools are nut-free so I wanted to provide an alternative option for this activity. I read on Itty Bitty Love an activity where they used a similar nut chopper to make bread crumbs, so we tried it and it worked wonderfully. This is a transparent chopper where the child can easily see the chopping action. 

Making bread crumbs with a nut chopper at How we Montessori

The child puts the bread in the top chamber then puts the lid on, they may need adult help to ensure the lid is on tightly. 

Making bread crumbs with a nut chopper at How we Montessori

Then the child turns the handle to move the blades to chop the nuts or to make bread crumbs. We are using old sourdough bread and earlier in the week tried this with the bread crust on, the bread crust was super hard to get through the chopper, so here we are using bread without the crust. We can use the bread crumbs on top of a potato pie, to add crunch to the top of mac and cheese or a pasta bake, in meatballs, or to bread chicken. 
Montessori coffee grinder at How we Montessori practical life coffee tray

I don't drink coffee (my husband does) but I like to use coffee as a deodorizer in the kitchen and in my workspaces. This activity is grinding coffee beans, this is another activity that smells super good.

Otto spooning coffee at How we Montessori

The child fills the Coffee Grinder (similar here) with coffee beans. This is a fun transferring activity.

 Otto spooning coffee at How we Montessori

Then turn the handle to grind the beans. 

Coffee grinds at How we Montessori (1)

The success of the activity is evident in the bottom drawer in the form of ground coffee. 

Montessori olive pit  olive pitting practical life tray at How we Montessori 2021

While we love our Cherry Pitter, it didn't feel right to also use it for olives.  Here we are using an Olive Pitter that takes a bit of strength in the hand to use. Earlier in the week, we tried using a garlic crusher which was really too hard, but the olive pitter is just right, with a lot of pressure and hand strength my child is able to push the pit out of the olive and it provides a bit of a 'click/snap' where the child can feel the pit come out and the success of the activity. It is satisfying for the child to use.

Olive pitter at How we Montessori  Otto practical life food prep tray

Honestly, I was eating the olives as fast as my child was pitting them. But this is a good activity to try if you are using olives in a snack board or making something like Tapenade. While the smaller Kalamata olives were easier to pit this pitter worked just as well on the larger green olives.

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