Our family enjoys a range of Asian cuisine and regularly dine out at a number of restaurants where chopsticks are the common eating utensil. I think the food tastes better when you use the utensils provided, although I have no real evidence to back up this statement.
For a little while now my children have been showing a keen interest in mastering the use of chopsticks. So far this has seen them mostly stabbing their dumplings when we are at Yum Cha. My goal, as per my Bucket List, is for them to master the art.
I’m convinced that my children learn quickest when they are having fun. They’re also able to generalize new skills if I first introduce it as a game and then transfer the skill, through modeling, to real life applications. I decided to work with this when teaching the kids how to use chopsticks. I presented it as the “Marshmallow Game” and within less than 30 minutes had them both using the utensil with ease. “But how?” I hear you ask.
Firstly I procured new thin chopsticks (if they’re particularly thick kids will struggle with them from my experience). I then sourced a bag of marshmallows and two small bowls. I separated the bowls and put 5 marshmallows in one of them.
The next step was to model and guide the correct hold. I started with a single chopstick, the bottom one, and showed the kids how to position it within your hand/fingers so it can not move. I told them to imagine that it is glued to their hand. We then introduced the second chopstick which CAN move. It is moved up and down by the fingers to connect with the first chopstick that is fixed below. Modeling then guiding these two steps helped the kids to achieve an understanding very quickly.
Once the chopstick hold was mastered we moved to the game. All they needed to do was move the 5 marshmallows from one bowl to the next using their chopsticks and positioning them quickly, something achieved in mere minutes! I was surprised by this so asked them to do it again. Same outcome! Wow- a few marshmallows later and they can use chopsticks.
The next challenge? Generalise the skill to a restaurant location and real dumplings!