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Basic Knife Skills Activities

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Knife Skills Worksheets and Activities

Teaching basic 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. These basic knife skills activities are great for culinary arts and family consumer science.

“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. Using salt dough is another way to have students practice knife skills.

Here is our free salt dough recipe that we use in our classroom!

knife skills activities for life skills cooking middle school and high school

knife skills lesson plans for culinary arts curriculum

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

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 in small groups 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- Have students make a homemade salt dough recipe or cut vegetables such as carrots or celery to show their understanding of knife cuts. They can cut the playdoh or vegetables using the knife cuts guide.

Put the knife cuts guide in a laminate sleeve for reuse and easy cleaning!

basic knife skills activities
using a laminate sleeve allows you to reuse and clean up easily!
knife skills lesson plans for culinary arts and family consumer science
download this freebie!

If your students are beginners, these lettuce knives are really helpful to help them start cutting without the risk of injury.

knife skills activities for culinary arts

3- 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.

4- 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.

Kitchen Knife Safety Tips

It is obviously important to teach your student’s kitchen knife safety tips such as:

  1. Keep your knives sharp: Dull knives require more force to cut through food, increasing the likelihood of slippage and injury. Use a sharpening stone or a knife sharpener to maintain a sharp edge.
  2. Use a cutting board: Never cut food items in your hand. Always use a sturdy cutting board to prevent the knife from slipping and to protect your hands.
  3. Hold the knife correctly: Always grip the handle firmly and keep your fingers away from the blade. Use your thumb and forefinger to guide the blade while slicing or chopping.
  4. Cut away from your body: Always cut away from your body to avoid injuring yourself in case the knife slips or you lose control of the blade.
  5. Store knives safely: When not in use, store knives in a knife block or on a magnetic strip, away from the edge of the counter or other surfaces where they could be accidentally knocked off.
basic knife skills activities 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!

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.

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