Increasing Independence In Children – Cutting

Children learning to use a knife.

Over the next month I will be presenting a series of simple activities that can help increase your child’s independence. These activities are aimed at children aged two and above.

Last week I went through the example of juicing oranges. Today it is teaching your child to cut using a child sized knife.


  • 1 child sized knife
  • 1 chopping board
  • Soft food items to cut like bread, cheese, banana, lettuce, melon etc

When To Do It:

I find this a great activity to set up for the preschooler when I am cooking. They can work along side me with a purpose. As they have something important to do (cut up their own food and then eat it!), I find that it allows me to move through my cooking quite quickly with fewer interruptions.

What To Do:

With all these practical life tasks I give a display of the activity first without words, allowing the child to take in the actual hand movements required. Too much talk can distract them from observing how the task is done.

  1. Display how to hold the knife correctly in your hand.
  2. Point out where the fingers should be on the knife.
  3. Position the other hand on the food item, highlighting its distance from the knife.
  4. Begin cutting the food with slow movements.
  5. Avoid taking over the task for the child. Children will not always perfect this skill the first time, so we can help them build up the skill, by allowing them to practice regularly.
  6. Finish the activity by having the child clean up . This could be as simple as placing the dishes in the dishwasher and food scraps in the compost or you can have them hand wash all the materials used.

EDIT: I have had a number of people ask about the knife used in the photo. It is ours and I bought it from a toy catalogue as part of a fundraiser. It is a Kiddie Food Kutter Knife.