Knife Skills: A Hands-On Lesson & Lab

This hands-on lesson plan, shared by Marlee Barton of Kentucky, includes knife skill activities using Play-doh and graduating to real vegetables. A soup lab follows. Sounds like a fun and delicious way to learn about knives!


  • Students learn to properly hold a knife.
  • Students learn to carry a knife safely.
  • Students learn to identify several types of knife cuts.
  • Students learn to make the correct knife cuts using Play-doh and vegetables.


  • Potato, Carrot, Onion, Collard greens, Garlic
  • Play-doh
  • Chef’s Knives
  • Santoku Knives
  • Cutting boards

Instructional Procedures

  • The first day students research various knives (see infographic below). Students are to identify them and then tell what their functions are. Then, we go over them.
  • Then, I intro knife skills. Using a knife I show them how to hold it correctly and identify the different parts of the knife as I go along.
  • The next day I demonstrate the different knife cuts, how to hold the knife, how to cut properly, how to hand a knife over to someone else, etc. As I do each cut, the kids are standing at the prep tables (cutting board and knife per person). They do the cuts as I do them with the Play-doh.
  • They shape the Play-doh into the vegetable I am cutting and they cut it the way that I do.
  • The following day, students demonstrate the knife cuts using actual vegetables.
  • Students wrap up their knife practicing by using the vegetables they cut to complete a soup lab.


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