In the Montessori 3-6 classroom, children as young as three years old are introduced to rolling napkins with napkin rings. Using basically the same technique as rolling a rug, children secure the napkins by sliding a napkin ring over the top and resting it in the middle of the rolled napkin. Later, these napkins are used when learning how to set a table. In addition to improving motor skills, there is an art to folding napkins. It may even be compared with the art of origami. As with any artwork, the right tools, in this case, napkins, and practice, help make it beautiful.
The holiday season is often festive and calls for more elaborate table settings. These preparations are but extensions of more traditional table setting layouts. Including your children in your holiday preparations makes them feel that they've made a contribution to the celebration.
Try adding a fancy napkin-folding work on your Practical Life shelves at the holiday season.
Napkin Folding Montessori Practical Life Activity: Perfect for the HolidaysUse napkins in holiday colors, i.e. orange and brown for Thanksgiving, blue and silver for Chanukah, green and red for Christmas. If the napkins are thin, ironing them with light starch prior to folding will help them keep their form. Using attractive napkin rings will add some enjoyment for even the youngest child, who may not yet be ready for the “fancy” napkin fold. Place the unfolded napkins on a tray. Some teachers find that having the steps illustrated on a piece of laminated cardstock helps children become independent.
A simple, yet elegant napkin fold is the Napkin Ring Fan Fold
- 4 square cloth napkins
- 4 napkin rings
- 4 dinner plates
- Lay the unfolded napkin face-down in a square in front of you.
- Fold the napkin in half, creasing the center fold.
- Re-open the napkin and lay it flat.
- Using 1-inch folds, accordion-fold the napkin up to the crease. Try to make sure the final fold rests on the crease. This will help keep the ends of the fan uniform.
- Continue accordion-folding the remaining half of the napkin. You will have a long rectangle of accordion-folds.
- Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise.
- Insert the 1/4-1/3 of the folded end of the napkin into a napkin ring.
- Place the napkin in the center of a dinner plate.
- Repeat for the remaining napkins.
For more napkin folding patterns and techniques, see:
3-6 and 6-9 provide many activities for the Montessori classroom.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.