It’s wonderful to include children in food preparation and so that they can work towards independence. There are quite a few Montessori friendly kitchen tools and gadgets that you might like to try. All of these are used in Paula’s Woodentots nurseries.

We love making barley soup – nourishing and nutrient-rich, and so warming on a rainy day.

You can use any vegetables you have at home for this recipe – root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes are a good option involving a 3 stage preparation that children particularly enjoy. Add a green vegetable for the last 5 minutes of cooking such as green beans, kale or spinach.

Washing the veg:

  • Provide a bowl
  • A jug – to collect and pour water into the bowl
  • A scrubbing brush
  • A tea towel for drying


  • Peeler – Y shaped peelers are good for little hands
  • Crinkle cutter
  • Mezzaluna (optional but children love them!)
  • Small scissors
  • Small chopping board


  • 3 carrots
  • ½ leek
  • 1 potato
  • A few green beans
  • A bay leaf
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 litre of boiling water
  • 4 teaspoons of Marigold low salt vegetable bouillon
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup of pearl barley
And here is a sweet song to sing whilst you work:

Chop, chop, choppety chop
Chop off the bottom
And chop off the top
What you have left
You pop in the pot

Whilst your child is preparing the vegetables, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the root vegetables to soften.

Add the water, stock, herbs and pearl barley. Simmer for 40 minutes. The barley soaks up the water so you might need to top it up.

This soup is delicious with a spelt bread roll to dip in. Your child might like to eat it in a cup with a spoon to eat the little bits of vegetables.

Always supervise a small child when using tools, show them first how to use the tool. Little by little, with increasing control, you will see how your child becomes more capable and confident in using them.

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About the Author: Paula Woodman

Paula is a Montessori teacher and Forest School Leader who has run the much loved Woodentots Montessori nurseries in North London for over 30 years. Recently recognised as Montessorian of the Year, Paula’s schools offer a unique and rich mix of Montessori, Steiner and Forest School, with child-led creativity at their core.
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