Friday, December 24, 2010

Montessori Practical Life Activities: Spooning and Sweeping Work

NAMC montessori practical life activities spooning and sweeping workThis year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

Jordan’s first experience with spooning beans from one container to another
Although it took Jordan several weeks to become comfortable working in the Montessori Practical Life area this year, he now spends a great deal of his time working with the Practical Life activities and I have seen such a change in how he feels about himself. He has grown leaps and bounds with remembering to put the work back in the same manner in which it was found and really takes his time when working with the activities. It is obvious that Jordan is enjoying his new found sense of independence and he takes his Practical Life work very seriously!

Earlier in this school year, Jordan had asked me if I could show him the spooning work, but we were just about to put the music on that day to signal clean up time. I explained to him that it was almost time to clean up, but that I would be happy to give him a lesson the following day. So, the next day, I dismissed the children from circle time one by one and when Jordan was the only child left at circle I asked him if he was ready for me to show him the spooning work. 

Montessori Practical Life Activities: Spooning and Sweeping Work

He was so excited. We walked to the shelf together and I carefully removed the tray from the shelf and took it to a table. The tray was rectangular in shape and on it were two small blue bowls and a small ladle. One of the bowls was filled with large white kidney beans and Jordan told me that they look like his dog’s teeth. I sat down at the table and showed Jordan how to carefully spoon the beans from left to right until all of the beans had been transferred from one container to the other.

It is so important that your take your time when presenting an activity because the child is absorbing everything you do and modeling the correct way to do a Montessori work is key! Once all of the beans had been transferred, I demonstrated how to spoon them back into the container where they were originally found. Jordan carefully watched me spoon the beans right to left, until all the beans were back in the bowl they were found. I then paused for a few seconds to admire my work, then looked at Jordan and asked him if he would like a turn. 

He wasted no time in sitting down and I asked him if he remembered what he should so when he finishes and he answered, “put my work back where I found it.” I then stepped back so that Jordan could work with the activity independently. He was so careful and precise and if a bean dropped on the tray he promptly picked it up and placed it on his spoon. He must have emptied and filled both bowls at least eight times and even remembered to straighten the bowls and spoon when he was finished. The only glitch was when Jordan was putting his work away. I could see that he was distracted by two children at the snack table, and before I could remind him to use two strong hands for carrying his tray, he tilted it and the beans went EVERYWHERE!

Ahhhh, the perfect Montessori opportunity for a lesson in sweeping. I showed Jordan where the broom and dustpan is kept and gave him a lesson on how to sweep up the beans. One of the older children asked if she could help and with a broom in hand, she and Jordan worked diligently to sweep up all of the beans … definitely a team effort! When all of the beans were placed back in the bowl, Jordan returned the tray to the shelf, but had forgotten where he found it so placed it on the art shelf. I didn't notice right away, but when I did I helped him to find the correct spot and he told me that it was a lot of work sweeping up the bowl of “dog’s teeth!” I just smiled and said, “Yes, you worked very hard today spooning and sweeping the beans.”
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.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 24, 2010.

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