Yet another activity/snack C and I enjoy together, cutting up a whole cantaloupe offers many learning and cooking lessons, and is adaptable to your child’s age. At a year old, C would just sit on the counter with a bib on, slurping up the chunks as I cut them and dropped them into the plastic bowl between his legs. A couple of weeks ago (2 1/2 years old), he collected the cutting board and the appropriately-sized bowl, scooped out the goop, and used his wavy chopper to cut pieces alongside me. Slurping up the chunks as we cut them, of course.
To cut a cantaloupe “our” way:
- Wait until the cantaloupe (whole, uncut) smells like cantaloupe, but not so long that it is soft to the touch.
- On your counter you’ll need a large cutting board, a long knife, a spoon, and a container for the cut fruit.
- Be prepared with a way to dispose the goop and rind. I throw it all in an empty trash bag and take it out to the outside garbage cans after we’re all done so it doesn’t smell up the kitchen trash.
- If your child is helping, stand him on a stool in front of the cutting board with his cutter at the ready. If he’s eating, set him on the counter, put a waterproof bib on (or take off his shirt if it’s warm enough!), and place the bowl between his legs.
- Cut the cantaloupe in half, width-wise.
- Draw your child’s attention to the goop inside, containing the seeds. Discuss the size of the seeds versus other fruits. How is it like the pumpkin you carved at Halloween? Where are banana seeds? Do you eat these seeds? What fruits’ seeds do you eat? Scoop the goop out with the spoon and dispose of it as you wish.
- Cut one half in half again, then again. Carefully cut the rind away from the orange melon, avoiding any green. (This takes practice! A smaller knife may be helpful for more control.)
- Hand over a rind-less slice to your helper for chopping into bite-sized pieces. If you have an eater only, cut it into bite sized pieces yourself, dropping them into the bowl in front of him. Remind him to chew and eat one piece at a time. (Or maybe that’s just my son…)
- Continue with the other slices, disposing of the rinds along with the goop. Discussion might turn toward which fruits/veggies you eat the outside skin and which you don’t.
- Thoroughly wipe off your counter and your child. Or let your helper do that.
Note 1: Sometimes we just do half at a time, placing the other half upside down on a plate in the fridge. This is especially practical when your kiddo loses interest or when the melon isn’t quite ripe enough.
Note 2: My sister-in-law is an expert at the melon baller. I’m not very efficient with it, especially with cantaloupe (watermelon is a little easier), but it is a fun, knife-less alternative.