In our Montessori classrooms, we have in place chopsticks of different lengths, different make > ie. melamine, glass, wood (etc) and different colours to entice children… especially the young ones to work with. ie. Learn thru’ play. As in all our Montessori activities, we try our best to source for materials in complete sets to provide opportunities for easy to difficult range, on our shelves. However, if it’s for simple home use… just use whatever material you have to work with your kiddies. Like these few below..
Just like introducing the pencil grip for the first time, we should allow for opportunities where children can exercise their pincer grip with varied materials prior to the actual pencil… like painting with paintbrushes, painting with pegs & sponges, cutting exercises (etc).
Ideally, we will provide slightly bigger items first for the children to lift with their chopsticks. Like rubber balls, because they can almost like stick easily to the chopsticks… then mebbe plasticine/dough balls… followed by styrofoam or those colourful wool pom-pom balls… then upgrade to marbles and glass pebbles.
When the children have enuf practice with a handful of similar items transferring, ie. from one dish to another or from one bowl to another… without intentionally dropping them… ( yes, the items must be lifted… and transferred carefully and softly into another bowl ), then we allow for extension variations. By this time, our children would’ve better grip on the chopsticks and we will let them do sorting. Can be colour sorting of rubber balls, to sorting different coin denominations, plastic chips (etc).
After which in our classrooms, we also have the occasional surprise of bringing in party noodles for snack and let them all practice with the chopsticks! To ensure it is a non-threatening activity whereby they aren’t forced to perform or show they MUST or they CAN work with the chopsticks, we also place a plastic spoon and fork set for them to use in case they get tired using the chopsticks.
And do bear in mind too that while it’s a normal practice to write and hold chopsticks, each person will have a different hold on it… so it doesn’t matter what style they hold it as long as the pincer grip is good, not too awkward preferably, and that they do not drop anything they eat… especially noodles… it can get messy.
This is how my young one holds it. She’s 5 yrs old. *The initial shots were of the jie-jie’s firmer hold.