How to Make Like a Montessori Mama: Part 1 – Food Activities
I’m of the belief that there’s no single teaching philosophy that’s perfect for every child. While my husband and I ultimately decided on a more traditional play-based preschool for C, we certainly haven’t ruled out alternative preschool environments for S in a few years (Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, etc.). I’m also of the belief that children can benefit greatly from being exposed to several types of teaching. As such, I’ve been on the hunt lately for a few easy ways to incorporate Montessori practices into C and S’s play at home.
The problem is Montessori seems to be everywhere these days. So much so that it’s hard for a parent to know where to begin. In seeking out the best activities to get started with, I found myself overwhelmed by the vast array of available material. Then I had an epiphany. I’ve got this great platform at my disposal… and many of my readers may have faced this same problem. Why not just contact my favorite Montessori blogger and ask her if she’ll do a series on the best way for us newbies to get started?
So that’s exactly what I did. And today I’m pleased as punch to announce the arrival of another guest-post series to MPMK, “How to Make Like a Montessori Mama”. Over the next several weeks the lovely Kylie of how we montessori will be sharing easy ways to venture into the world of Montessori.
I reached out to Kylie because her site has everything I appreciate most in a blog: good writing, great info., and a fresh, clean asthetic. Also when I saw the above post on her 3 year old’s personal food preparation space (complete with a compost bin, dirty dishes bucket, and personal fridge), I about fell off my chair! Be sure to stop in and say hello, I know you’ll love it as much as I do.
For her guest posts here at MPMK, Kylie will be grouping activities by topic – covering all varieties of animal, mineral, and vegetable. Today she’s starting us off with some food-centric fun. So, without further ado, take it away Kylie!
Five great Montessori inspired activities about FOOD!
Montessori activities usually involve a hands on experience for the child. It is important to choose the activity based on your child’s skill level and interests. All of these activities can be easily adapted to suit different age groups, different tastes and to foods which you may have on hand. Remember to demonstrate the activity to your child first and make it an enjoyable experience.
These activities are designed to provide a sensorial experience for the child and to stimulate their natural love of learning.
1. Preparing a Banana Snack
For the youngest child cut the banana into thirds or quarters and make a cut into the skin. The child can peel the banana, put the peel into a dish and banana into a serving bowl. If your child is interested in using tongs, they can use them to transfer the banana. Small ice tongs like these are great for small hands.
An older child can learn to peel an entire banana (often a cut at the stem will help) and start to slice the banana with a knife, a small butter knife is often a good start. This is a great activity if you are introducing Montessori into the home for the first time. Preparing their own snack can increase a child’s independence and sense of self.
2. Taste Test
This is such a fun activity. Prepare three (or more if you wish!) foods your child is familiar with. Here we used mashed strawberries, chocolate spread and puree apples. Cover the foods so that your child cannot see them. Blindfold your child (we use a long piece of scrap fabric) and serve them one food at a time.
Using only their sense of taste the child is asked to identify the food. My son is having fun here because he loves all of these foods. For an older child you could use foods that taste similar (apple/pear) or choose different varieties of the same food (different cheeses perhaps).
3. Scent Bottles
This is a classic Montessori activity adjusted for the home environment. I have chosen three different scents for my three year old. This activity can be a little tricky and usually best for a child three years and over. If your child finds it easy you could to increase the number of scents/bottles.
Put a little bit of each scent onto two cotton wipes, you could also use cotton balls. I have used orange, lemon and vanilla essential oils and just one drop on each wipe. There are many other scents you could use including rubbing herb or spice onto the cotton wipe. Insert each cotton wipe into it’s own bottle. I have used clean spice bottles. It is important that each bottle looks identical.
To start the child chooses one bottle, takes the lid off and smells it. Then the child smells the other bottles to find a match (a pair). They put the matching pair to the side and then choose another bottle and find it’s match. As each bottle looks the same this activity uses and refines the child’s sense of smell.
4. Fruit & Vegetable Matching
This is another activity great for those starting out with Montessori. We find this activity works best on a mat on the floor. I have printed and laminated simple pictures of fruits and vegetables. The child lays out the pictures in a row at the top of the mat. The child then one at a time chooses a fruit/vegetable and matches it to the corresponding picture. When my son was around 2 years old I increased the number of pictures to fifteen. This can also be a great language exercise as you can give the child the fruit/vegetable, name it and then the child can match it as in “here is the carrot” “can you match the carrot”.
5. Observation Tray
I love to leave items out on an observation tray. This is a great way for children to observe and handle foods they might not be familiar with. There are many foods like herbs, spices and nuts that look wonderful under a magnifying glass. You can simply leave the tray on a low shelf for your child to look at as they wish or you can sit with your child and look together and discuss what each item looks, feels and smells like.
Small foods like nuts if left unattended are best for an older child but larger items like a single, whole pineapple or coconut would be suitable for younger ones. The closer you look the more you realize how amazing some of our foods are.
Kylie D’Alton has two sons and blogs at how we montessori about raising them the Montessori way.