Squeeze Your Own Orange Juice

Playful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange Juice

Nichole is here today to share some thoughtful tips about making fresh-squeezed orange juice.

I am so happy for the opportunity to contribute here at the Playful Learning blog. I’ve been a big fan of this space and Mariah’s work for a while now. As a mama to a three-year-old daughter and a Montessori guide, I spend lots of time thinking about ways in which to enrich curiosity, wonder, and independence in young children.

Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the greatest pride-inducing activities one may offer a child are those having to do with food preparation. Our daily food is essential to our well-being. Naturally, children gravitate towards opportunities to help contribute to meal preparation and love the independence that they feel when there is an opportunity to serve their own needs—all by themselves.

I like to provide food preparation activities on my daughter’s practical life shelf that are related to the current season. As it is summer and very hot in our parts, she has been enjoying juicing oranges.

Below is the tray, which holds everything she needs to be independent with the activity.

Playful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange Juice

The set is fairly simple and includes very common kitchen items, which is wonderful as it is an easy activity for an adult to put together for their child. There is an underlay which helps to define her work space and to protect the table surface, a dish with an orange (which I slice in half when she chooses the activity), a damp sponge to wipe up spills, a juicer attached to a vessel, and of course, a glass for drinking.

When I present this activity to children, I make sure that I stand up while squeezing and turning the orange, since this is the position that most young children will squeeze most effectively in. I also use small or medium size oranges for this activity, as they are easier for young hands to squeeze.

Playful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange JuicePlayful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange JuicePlayful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange JuicePlayful Learning: Squeeze Your Own Orange Juice

My daughter loves squeezing. It’s a fantastic activity to develop muscle strength in the hands. There is also a strong sensorial experience of feeling the texture of the rind, and of smelling and tasting the juice. In addition, a little extra vitamin C never hurts. Since my daughter is three and her hands are still quite small, I sometimes offer to take a turn after I see she is done squeezing. With a little extra help from mama, we can easily get the remaining pulp and juice out in seconds.

“Mama I made orange juice!” she exclaimed recently. I love it. Two summers ago, she was learning to toddle and had very few words to speak. And now, she is squeezing her own cup of juice.

PS: It’s fun to change up this activity to make lemonade. Your little one can squeeze the lemons and then pour the juice into a jar of water, add a bit of sweetener, and voila, the perfect refreshing drink for a hot, summer day!