24 April 2006

Teaching kids to use chopsticks

chopstick_hingesSara and I both noticed these cute chopstick "hinges" at Babygadget a while back. We also both wondered if there's a cheaper, easier way to teach kids to use chopsticks. I bought inexpensive trainer chopsticks (attached at the top with a springy bit of plastic) at a local Asian market. How about you? Any suggestions?

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There's the rubber band method - something shown to my parents in a Chinese restaurant when I was a kid aeons ago.

Take a pair of chopsticks and a sturdy, stretchy rubber band (the quarter inch across kind, not a skinny, quick to snap one).

Hold the chopsticks parallel and band them together at the non-eating end. Do it semi-loosely, not so tight that the sticks are locked against each other.

Now take one of the sticks and rotate it a couple of times, using the rubber band as the axis point. Just do this one or two times, otherwise you'll run the risk of making a helicopter. :)

What you want to end up with is the home-made equivalent of the plastic two stick hinge unit, with a bit of separation between the sticks and a bit of spring as well.

If you are at a restaraunt that has individual chopstics in a paper wrapper you can also use that with the chopsticks. The kind with the heavey paper is best, and any paper will work. Fold the wrapper in half until it forms a wedge that won't close together any more (4-5 times folded in half). Put that wedge, axis pointint away at the non eating end of the chopsticks and then secure a rubber band around the chopsticks and paper hinge. This will work more like the kind you saw in the store and is safer than the spring loaded version above ;)

I have a small, utlitiarian, hinge that fits on most sets of chopsticks that I got with my daughter's kids meal at Nothing but Noodles. It's always a good idea to keep an eye out at resturants that have chopsticks for "disposable" plastic hinges and then keep them in your change purse or diaper bag so that you have them when you need them.

I'm pretty sure they sell kiddy chopsticks in any Asian supermarket.

Helped the hell out of me when I moved to Japan not having eaten anything more exoctic than Top Ramen.

I have attached a rubber band to the non-eating end also. It's a pretty good trainer. But, the best part about eating with chopsticks is having fun with them! First, I help them hold the chopsticks correctly each time we go to an Asian restaurant, then I let them have at it. They'll spear the food, dig at the food, use both hands, but they eventually get the hang of it. This, of course, is after a few tries or a few years depending on how old they are starting. It's great memories!

Chopstick Kids are US$6? Ouch.

After getting a Fun Chop "hinge" with a kids' meal at a restaurant a few years ago, I Googled them and bought three for $1 from Asian Food Grocer ( http://tinyurl.com/dpnd4 ).

We have a pair of these: http://www.usillygoose.com/zoosticks.html they're a lot like the Zoo Sticks.

Oops! I didn't mean to copy that Silly Goose url! Here is the right one: http://tinyurl.com/n62jx

My 5-year-old son uses chopsticks designed for kids by a Korean company.
I tried to teach him how to use chopsticks before he uses them but no success. Now it works.
Google images of "Edison chopsticks" and you'll see how it works.

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