Learning to Use Chopsticks for the Chinese New Year

By Amanda Moses 

Starrett Early Learning Center (ELC) kicked off their celebration of the Lunar New Year by teaching their students how to use chopsticks on Thursday, February 15th. Since ancient times, chopsticks have been traditional utensils used in China. In light of its cultural significance, the staff at ELC thought it would be a fun and interesting lesson to show their children how to eat with chopsticks and expose them to Chinese delicacies.

Since the children at ELC have very tiny fingers and are still learning to write, the teachers tied rubber bands at the end of the chopsticks (in an “X’ position), so that their hands will remain steady while eating. This little trick (and just in case forks were made available) allowed the students to enjoy Vegetable Lo Mein, which featured green onions, red peppers,The children had a blast eating their lunch and learning about Chinese culture.

How to teach your child to use chopsticks:

  • You can purchase chopsticks from most grocery stores or ask for a pair upon ordering from your nearby Chinese restaurant.
  • Place the chopsticks into the proper pinch-like position in your child’s hand, explaining that holding this utensil is similar to using a pencil.
  • Make sure their hand has a firm grip on the chopsticks, wedging their thumb and index finger between each stick.
  • Practice opening and closing the chopstick, like a pair of scissors.
  • If the child is having trouble keeping the top half the chopsticks in an “X” position, try tying a rubber band so that it stays in an “X” shape. (You can let them continue their meal with the rubber band, or remove it after they have had some practice.)
  • Start with picking up larger vegetables like broccoli or a bunch of noodles, and then move on to smaller foods like rice.

Photos by Amanda Moses