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Basic Knife Skills Activity Ideas for Middle School and High School

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Knife Skills Worksheets and Activities

Teaching knife skills to middle school and high school students is one of the trickier parts of teaching kids how to cook. It definitely takes time and is not for the faint of heart! Read on for some fun and engaging knife skills activities.

“Having sharp, great knives will enable you to cook very precisely. Knife skills are essential in cooking.” said famous chef Eric Ripert. The problem is, you can’t hand a student a sharp knife a the beginning of the learning process in the culinary arts.

Knife skills are something that needs to be taught at the beginning of the semester so that students are ready to complete cooking labs. Some people use playdoh to start so that there is less chance of injury.

We use this knife skills lesson to introduce basic knife skills and knife cuts.

knife skills lesson plan for culinary arts high school and homeschool high school.

With younger students, it is not a bad idea to start with plastic knives. Some people have secondary students start with plastic knives but my philosophy is that they should start with real knives and a lot of coaching.

1- Individually or small group coach students as much as I can as they begin cutting. Practice and coaching have worked well along with guiding them to the correct knives for specific foods. Setting up stations in which groups of students are doing different activities is a great way to be able to coach more individually.

For instance-

  • group 1 can be working on a worksheet or bell ringer journals.
  • group 2 can be completing a Webquest on a cooking topic and
  • group 3 can be working with you on learning to cut a vegetable properly.

2- Use videos to help reinforce the concept. This video above is a julienne cut video that we made for our knife skills lesson plan.

Here is another great video about the “claw” hold when teaching students to use a knife.

3- Use a ready-made lesson plan with vocabulary and drag and drop knife parts. We made a lesson all about this to introduce types of knives, parts of knives, and knife skills. Check it out by clicking the picture below. It is in Google form.

  • Familyandconsumersciences.com has great ideas to set up using playdoh if that is the route you would like to take to introduce the topic. Middle school students may need to start with something like plastic knives and playdoh before moving on to real knives and food.

Knife Skills Lab Ideas

During the early school year, our students enjoyed making these:

  • mini fruit pizzas while practicing their skills cutting strawberries, blueberries, and any fruit of your choice. We substituted the limeade for vanilla extract.
knife skills worksheets for family and consumer science classes.
Mini fruit pizzas for a quick and easy knife skills practice.
  • Ramen Challenge– kids love a good challenge and this is a basic lab that brings tons of fun and practice with knife skills. Students get a pack of cheap ramen and choose ingredients to add to it to make a “gourmet Ramen” dish. They can chop celery, onions, carrots, and other ingredients to make it delicious. This can also be a great lesson on setting up their mise en place.

Another culinary food lab for teaching knife skills is salsa. Students can choose their ingredients and create a delicious salsa while practicing cutting tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and more. We have a salsa worksheet if you would like to introduce salsa with background knowledge and a recipe.

basic knife skills lessons for culinary arts and home ec
This resource includes a reading on the history of salsa, types of salsa and a salsa recipe for students to make to practice their basic knife skills!

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