Many parents hope to teach their children basic techniques for using sporting knives. From cooking to cleaning game, deftness with a knife is a useful skill for anyone to have. And although digital technology presents today’s children with a plethora of entertainment options, kids still enjoy creating things with their own hands. The sporting knife exercises listed below can help kids gain confidence – safely – and have fun while they learn how to properly wield hunting knives.
Sporting Knife Safety Tips
First, let’s review a few basic safety rules that should be reiterated throughout any children’s project involving sporting or hunting knives. Talk to your children about these ideas regularly, and quickly, consistently redirect them if they are not properly holding or using a knife.
- A sharp hunting knife is a safe knife. You’re more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife. Don’t forget to teach your kids how to sharpen their sporting knives.
- Be careful about where your knife tip is pointing. Never point a knife at another person. When walking with a sporting knife, the tip should always be pointed down. Don’t try to catch a falling knife.
- Think ahead. As you cut, think about where your sporting knife would end up if you somehow jerked or lost control. Would the knife be lodged in a body part, or would it be easy to stop the knife in its path? If the knife slipped though whatever substance you’re cutting, would it hurt someone? If so, adjust your cutting setup.
Sporting Knife Projects for Kids
Keeping the aforementioned safety tips in mind, here are a few projects you can use to help accustom kids to using proper sporting knife techniques:
1. Peeling potatoes.
Even a three-year-old can help with peeling potatoes or other vegetables. The key is to have a strong hold on whatever you’re peeling and to sweep the peeling hand away from you. Vegetable peelers are confidence-builders for kids who aren’t quite ready to graduate to cooking or sporting knives.
2. Cutting dinner vegetables.
Once your kids are comfortable using a peeler, they can become your dinner prep partners. Just sit down next to them with your pile of vegetables and let them help cut ingredients under your watchful supervision.
Here are a few tips on how to properly hold a kitchen knife: Grip the knife with your dominant hand, and hold the item to be cut with your other hand. According to professional chefs, the index finger of the hand holding the knife should be in contact with the knife blade just above where it is affixed to the handle. Create a claw around the vegetable or fruit to be cut. The fingertips of the hand holding the vegetable or fruit should point straight down, or even curled under a bit, so you can be sure they won’t get cut. As you cut, keep the knife tip down on the cutting board, rather than hacking at the cutting board from high in the air.
Many five- or six-year-olds are ready to cut vegetables and fruits. If you’re especially concerned about cuts, you may choose to buy kitchen knives made especially for children. Knives from Curious Chef, for example, are strong enough to cut through vegetables, but they won’t cut through hands or fingers.
3. Carving bars of soap.
Since colonial times, parents have taught kids whittling skills with soap carving. Soap is softer than wood, so it’s easier to whittle away. To carve soap with kids, your first step as a parent is choosing a good sporting knife. Folding knives are not generally recommended for kids’ projects, as it’s easy for folding blades to snap closed on unsuspecting little fingers. Instead, a fixed-blade sporting knife with a small handle will be easiest for kids to work with.
Once you’ve found the right knife, it’s time to choose your soap – one with no fragrances or moisturizing oils will work best. Have your child scrape off the soap’s brand name with a paring or sporting knife. Next, the child should draw out his or her design. Place the design against the bar of soap and have the child transfer the design by tracing over it with a chopstick or manicure orange stick. The stick will press down into the soap, creating a line that can be followed while whittling. The child will then get practice with whittling as he or she carefully cuts away all parts of the bar of soap that aren’t a part of his or her design.