Yes, toddlers working in a Montessori classroom really do use a real wooden handled knife to cut up their fruit for snacks. This is not the first step in learning how to use a knife. The teacher takes the toddler through a number of steps before allowing them the freedom to use the knife independently.
Why do you start off with a real knife? you ask. The toddlers learn from the start that they are working with serious implements which need to be respected and handled with care. They learn how to focus and concentrate on the task at hand to prevent injuries. They quickly learn that there are consequences to their actions. This is what the child is seeking; independence, respect and the confidence to act as a person in their own right. Finally, they love nothing better than a challenge, which this wooden handled knife provides.