Rock Washing Work

Rock Washing Work

Maria Montessori recognized and understood that children were eager to work, even when the work seems like a chore to adults. Their work is their play and while working, they are forming and developing foundations in organizational skills as well as intelligence. Washing and cleaning activities in the classroom or at home provide exactly what children need for development of concentration, independence, caring for the environment, becoming aware of order and sequencing and gaining control over their movements. And for kids, it’s just plain fun!

Rock washing is a variation of dishwashing. There are many different ways to practice the sequential steps of washing but rock washing is a favorite in our homes. Rock washing is a great way to satisfy a child’s need for sequential work and get your backyard or schoolyard rocks sparkling clean all at the same time! 😂

 

What You Will Need:

  • Tray with lip or small dishwashing tub
  • Bucket with water or other water source
  • Empty bucket for dirty water
  • Pitcher for scooping out water
  • Bowl with rocks
  • Bottle of soap, bar of soap or dispenser of liquid soap
  • Sponge for cleaning up spills
  • Scrubber for washing the rocks clean
  • Towel for drying
  • A work apron (we use a plastic one here but any kind of apron works. A cloth apron is great because it is a control of error.
  • Allowing the child to feel that he/she is wet but any kind of work apron will work.)

Lesson:

Extend an invitation to the rock washing station to your child. Carefully and with intention, give a lesson to your child going through all the steps in the activity.

        1. Take the pitcher and fill it with water from the water bucket.
        2. Pour water into the large bowl.
        3. Choose a rock to place in the bowl.
        4. Squeeze soap in the bowl.
        5. Pick up the brush in dominant hand. 
        6. Hold the rock in the water with your other hand.
        7. Begin to scrub the rock. 
        8. Turn the rock over and repeat.
        9. When satisfied, rinse the brush in the water and shake out excess water.
        10. Put the brush back on the tray.
        11. Lay out the towel and place the wet rock on the towel for drying. Bring up the edges of the towel around the rock and rub or pat the rock dry.
        12. Pour the water into the empty bucket
        13. Take the bucket to the sink or if outside a designated area in your yard and pour the water out.
        14. Replace the items back where they were found.
        15. Ask your child, “would you like a turn?”

Give your child lots of time to explore and work with this material. Observe, observe, observe. If your child is missing some of the steps you gave him/her, give another lesson another day. Don’t intervene or interrupt unless they ask you for help. While they are working with this material and any other, they are gaining knowledge and learning through play.

Note: For Toddlers and younger children, we suggest using less steps. For instance, instead of having your child go to a bucket or water source to get water, have the water already inside the pitcher. Or instead of having the child dry the rock with a towel, have them place it in a bowl to dry outside. You can simplify however you would like and add more details or steps as your child shows readiness.

Here are a few other ideas of variations that your child just might love! Try one today!

Washing work Variations:

  • washing dishes
  • vegetable washing
  • peeling eggs and washing
  • scrubbing potatoes
  • car washing
  • horse, dinosaur, baby washing
  • seashell washing
  • brick washing
  • toys or truck washing

The options and variations of washing work are endless.  In our school, dishwashing is always available but we also have washing activities on the shelf that we rotate in and out for variation monthly or even weekly depending on our students interests and needs.  Once you get the hang of setting up washing work, we know it will be a staple in your homes as well.

A Bright and Peaceful Light

Bundled up in warm winter clothing, drinking hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols as a diversion from the freezing cold, our family went to see Luminaria last night. A beautifully decorated outdoor scenery of trees and buildings that went on for what seemed like miles on end! With millions of lights cascading over acres of area, you can imagine it truly was a magnificent display of bright lights!

It also just happened to be December 21st, the winter solstice; the shortest and darkest day of the year……and to top it off, Jupiter and Saturn aligned (which hasn’t happened since 1226) creating a magnificent “Christmas” star just to the Southwest of us. Did you see it? We didn’t have a telescope which was needed I guess to see it’s total brilliance, but we all knew it was there and we were able to see it enough which added to the already lit up sky! Believe me, all of this “light” irony wasn’t lost on us as we meandered through the beautiful light show and under a bright Heavenly star last night. We felt such a sense of gratitude and joy!

Different Forms of Light

Light!!! Light in all its forms just makes me feel so happy! I love the sun, a brightly lit Christmas tree, candles flickering on a table, the stars at night, big city lights and Disneyland lit up for the holidays! :) Seeing all of these different kinds of lights on the shortest and darkest day of the year brought comfort and a blessing to my heart. And it made me think of all the years that we have celebrated at our school and with our family, the importance of being a light to others and bringing peace whenever we can.

Peace and Love Lights

For the last several years at our Montessori school, we have implemented a peace program that we use all year long that’s based on the book, “Honoring the Light of the Child” by Sonnie McFarland.

Peace and Love Lights

We teach our preschool students about the love lights that they carry inside of them but most importantly how they can use their inner light to bless others. Have you ever noticed how little children naturally bring light into your lives?

They are meek, mild, unassuming, true, faithful, unwavering and joyful! They are the perfect age to teach about peace and how being peaceful in all that they do makes the world a better place!

Light the World

Going right along with this idea, our church has a Christmas time initiative that has been done for the last several years as well called #LightTheWorld. Everyone who wants to participate is challenged to share their own inner lights as we all help light the world one person and good deed at a time.

Today amidst the many challenges that we are facing, I am grateful for daily reminders that we also have soooo much light in our world, in our lives and in our hearts which brings us all hope!

This holiday season it is our wish that we will each remember to “Light the World” as often as we can with our own inner love lights just as little children do so naturally………this light and service to others is truly the magic of Christmas.

-Barbara

Our Approach to Staying Healthy

As the fall is winding down we all know that colder months and flu season are on their way. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we are taking really good care of ourselves. Before the winter sets in, we are stepping up our already amped up hygiene routine at school and at home. How about you?  

Taking care of our bodies by eating foods that are high in vibrational energy, (think green and colorful clean foods) getting lots of vitamins especially from juicing (yummy!), daily exercise and time in the sun are all some of the ways we boost our immune system around our home. You can read Kayla’s article, “Immune Boosting Eating” here and learn about how she keeps her family healthy with immunity boosting foods. And of course, we can’t forget the importance of hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks when around others besides your own families at home.

 

Regular hand washing is a great way to help combat illnesses so we feel it’s important to devote time to teaching proper hand washing to our young children. We try to make hand washing fun at school and in our homes by using our hand washing cards and having a child sized hand washing station set up and ready for use. You can find our free hand washing sequence cards and hand washing song for FREE here.

Singing our “Hand washing song” is a favorite way to get the littlest of our students and babes at home to enjoy their time at the hand washing station. Download the printable, laminate, cut apart the various materials and post near your bathrooms or hand washing stations. Sing the little song included with the printable to the tune of Frere Jacques and watch your littles wash the germs away! We have also included a set of sequencing cards so you can work with your child on the sequential steps included in the hand washing process.

Prepare a Handwashing Station

Preparing a hand washing and self care station is pretty easy. Here are a few things that you will need:

  • Hand washing Basin and Pitcher. We love this one from Montessoriservices.com. Or you can use a large bowl and pitcher that you have around the house. I found a perfect pitcher at Homegoods for $3 and put it together with a deep ceramic bowl.
  • Gather together a hand drying towel, small soap bottle, an apron, a towel to clean up spills on the floor, a sponge for spills on the table and a bucket.
  • You can also add a nail brush and a little dish for keeping jewelry in while washing hands if you want.

After setting up this area, present this material to your child through a Montessori Lesson in hand washing. You can find a great video here on how to show the steps of hand washing to your child.

 

This lesson from Maria Montessori was developed at a time when it was pretty common to use a wash basin. We still like to use them today because it is a great way to teach steps and sequencing, it gives opportunity for independence (what all preschool age children crave) and honestly, is just a really fun way to wash your hands.

You can, of course, use the sink instead and adjust how you present the lesson slightly. Either is totally fine! The goal is to just get our kids to wash their hands!

Here are the steps: Show your child first, then have him or her do it after you finish.

  1. Fill the pitcher with warm water and pour it into the bowl.
  2. Put your hands in the bowl and cover them with water.
  3. Lift hands and let the excess water drip into the bowl.
  4. Place one pump of soap on your hands. We use the traditional Montessori method of a small bar of soap but with all the illnesses it might be wise to use a squirt bottle filled with liquid soap or a pump bottle.
  5. Rub your hands together to make some soapy bubbles. Sing the hand washing song from our free handout while you massage and wash each of your fingers and thumbs, rubbing the palms and the backs of your hands. This should take at least 20 seconds but if you’re giving a lesson to a child older than 2.5, you can stretch it out. Sing the song twice!
  6. Follow up the wash with a dip back in the water and rinse your hands.
  7. Reach for the hand towel and dry your hands completely.
  8. Put everything back where it goes.
  9. Carefully dump the water in the bucket. Dry the bucket, then use the sponge to clean up any spills on the table and use the large towel to clean up any spills on the floor. Put the used towels in the dirty clothes basket, reset everything and let your child give it a try.

It might seem like a lot of work to prepare, but once this is set up and your child has been given a lesson or two on how to use the hand washing table, he/she will begin to look forward to doing this work everyday, several times a day! Another win for promoting healthy living!

Oh and feel free to download our free fruit and veggie matching cards here and use them to promote colorful, healthy foods!

Wishing you health and happiness!!

-Barbara

Immune Boosting Eating

Introduction

I received my B.S. in Exercise and Wellness from Brigham Young University and some of my favorite classes and units were all about nutrition. I have always found food, nutrition, and diet lifestyles interesting!

Now sometimes talking about food can be a sore topic for discussion. This could be for many reasons. Maybe your child is a persnickety eater and you don’t want to hear anything else that your kid ‘needs’ to be eating because it’s a battle you know all too well… a battle you’re constantly losing. Maybe you have a poor relationship with food and a lot of the emotions you feel relating to food are fear or anxiety. Maybe you are so overwhelmed that you cannot fathom adding another item to your “Good Mom List.” (You know that list in your head that you made up with ridiculous high standards that if you don’t meet the mom guilt comes crashing in, enveloping you in negativity and stress… I know other people have this too… right?) ;)

Food is Medicine

Whatever the reason, food can be a sensitive subject, but it can also be a powerful and beautiful topic of discussion. Like what I want to discuss today. Drum roll please… “Immune Boosting Eating.” I probably didn’t need the drum roll because the title gave it away… but I digress.

Proper nutrition and exercise are two of the best ways to stay healthy and boost your immune system. Western medicine is an amazing gift, but there can be natural medicinal properties in fresh foods, too. Below is a table full of food I personally love incorporating into my family’s diet to boost our immune systems. The table identifies the nutrients of each food, and what they can do for you. I also provided some linked resources if you wanted to read further into the nutrition and benefits of each food. *Note they are not listed in any particular order.

My Top 18 Immune Boosting Foods

 

Category Food  Nutrients Benefits Resources
Fruit Kiwi vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, antioxidants  Skin health, heart health, anti-inflammatory better sleep  LINK
Fruit Orange fiber, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and antioxidants Heart health, kidney stone and anemia prevention, anti-inflammatory LINK

LINK

Fruit Pineapple vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6 Disease fighting anti-antioxidants, vitamin C, promotes growth and healthy metabolism  LINK
Fruit Blueberries Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese heart health, bone development, disease fighting anti-antioxidants  LINK
Fruit Strawberry fiber, vitamin C, potassium, folate Promotes normal tissue growth and cell function, skin health, heart health, blood sugar regulation LINK
Vegetable Spinach vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, vitamin B2 Fights oxidative stress, help moderate blood pressure, eye health, heart health  LINK
Vegetable Broccoli fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K Skin health, anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, may shorten or reduce symptoms of colds LINK
Vegetable Cauliflower fiber, antioxidants, choline, sulforaphane,  Brain development, nervous system health, protects against chronic disease  LINK
Vegetable Celery vitamins A, K, and C, folate, iron, magnesium  Anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, low glycemic index LINK
Vegetable Carrot beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, antioxidants Promotes growth, development, immune function, eye health LINK
Vegetable Ginger Root gingerol, fiber, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, folate, magnesium Anti-inflammatory, fights against bacteria and viruses, brain health, heart health  LINK

LINK

Vegetable Garlic manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium Prevent and reduce symptoms of colds, protects against oxidative damage, detoxifying benefits, bone health LINK
Mixed Nuts monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, antioxidants Protect against LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, promotes gut health  LINK
Meat Chicken protein, B vitamins, selenium, antioxidants, zinc Promote physical health/stamina, cognitive health, skin health, heart health, sleep quality LINK
Meat Salmon Omega-3 fatty acid, protein, B vitamins, potassium, selenium, zinc Reduces the risk of disease, heart health, brain health, energy production LINK
Raw Unfiltered Honey Antioxidants, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, potassium Fights bacteria, brain health, wound-healing, aids in digestion LINK
Dairy Greek Yogurt Protein, potassium, calcium, probiotics, vitamin B12 Brain health, bone health, muscle health, gut health,  LINK
Grain Whole Grain Bread Fiber, B vitamins, protein, antioxidants, plant compounds Aids in digestion, anti inflammatory, heart health  LINK

Making it Happen

It seems like the world is hyper aware of everything we can do to stay healthy and food really is one of the best ways we can make sure our bodies are in prime condition to fight off bacteria, infection, and viruses.

Fresh produce, whole grains, and lean meat makes a huge difference in our diets. I myself am a fan of the ‘Flexitarian Diet.’ I like this form of thinking because it’s a lifestyle that doesn’t cut out any one food group and can be a sustainable choice compared to many of the fad diets out there. Our bodies crave a variety of nutrients and a balance between the food groups. Balance and variety give our bodies the best chance at developing a strong immune system.

Getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients will not only have a positive effect on your immune function, but will give you more energy, reduce oxidative stress and benefit your overall physical and mental health.

We hope you are happy and healthy! Comment below with your favorite health foods for the family! :)

 

~Kayla

The Importance of Practical Life

Practical Life activities are the foundation of the Montessori Method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. They were then and they are now of greatest importance in assisting a child to reach his/her full potential in an Early Childhood Montessori Program whether in a formal school setting or in our own homes. For this reason we place a strong emphasis on the Practical Life areas in our homes and in our classrooms at Children’s House Montessori.

Children want to copy or do what they see the adults in their lives doing.  This is why your child probably asks you over and over again if he/she can help you wash the car, do the dishes, try on your shoes or clothes, help you cook, dress themselves, etc. Maria Montessori said, “Imitation is the first instinct of the awakening mind.”

 

 

Although the components of the Montessori Practical Life curriculum are numerous, it can be broken down fairly easily this way:

  1. Practical Life teaches children to care for themselves and care for their environment thus giving them a sense of independence, self confidence and order. What child doesn’t say, “Help me do it by myself.” –Maria Montessori
  2. Practical Life activities are instrumental in helping to develop a strong foundation for each individual child. If these activities are rushed or skipped, a child will not be able to reach his/her full potential in a Montessori school or a home environment. In fact, Dr. Montessori said, “it’s not until a child struggles in the other areas of the Montessori environment that the origins of the struggle can often be traced back to the lack of experience or time spent in Practical Life.”
  3. I have always loved the ideas and creativity behind the Practical Life area of the Montessori Classroom because it allows the child to actually “do” an activity they want to “imitate” rather than just “pretend”. For this reason, we suggest having prepared Practical Life areas and activities in your homes that are designed for small bodies and hands so that Toddler and Preschool aged children have daily time to practice skills naturally. 

Practical Life activities are instrumental in helping to develop a strong foundation for each individual child. If these activities are rushed or skipped, a child will not be able to reach his/her full potential in a Montessori school or a home environment. In fact, Dr. Montessori said, “it’s not until a child struggles in the other areas of the Montessori environment that the origins of the struggle can often be traced back to the lack of experience or time spent in Practical Life.”

I have always loved the ideas and creativity behind the Practical Life area of the Montessori Classroom because it allows the child to actually “do” an activity they want to “imitate” rather than just “pretend”. For this reason, we suggest having prepared Practical Life areas and activities in your homes that are designed for small bodies and hands so that Toddler and Preschool aged children have daily time to practice skills naturally. Take a look at baby Easton practicing his Practical Life skills by pouring and watering flowers.

 

 

The list of ideas and activities could be endless, but here are a few basic Practical Life activities that you can easily incorporate into your daily home routine:

  • washing dishes in a child-sized sink or you can use a Toddler Tower to get your child to your adult sink (we love this one).
  • preparing their own snacks
  • setting a table for meals: We love to use child sized plates, cups and silverware. Here are our favorites from Amazon (flatware) and Montessori Services, (plates, cups).
  • tonging and scooping objects into small containers or bowls   
  • pouring liquids or dry items
  • completing cooking projects following sequenced cards or steps in a recipe
  • cleaning up spills or accidents using child sized brooms, mops and towels.  You can find some great options here. 
  • planting seeds or flowers in the garden, pulling weeds, raking or shoveling dirt
  • cutting flowers and completing flower arranging work
  • polishing silver, rocks or shoes 

We encourage you to take a look around your homes and think of ways that you can create a space full of Practical Life work that your child can engage in and grow from. Notice ways that you can incorporate daily activities and exercises into your routine with your developing and budding child! Not only will daily Practical Life activities help your child become more content and confident, they will find more joy in their daily routines and they will also be provided with a foundation for a life-long love of learning.

 

 

Don’t forget to visit our website here for more Practical Life things we love. 

-Barbara

Peace Tables

Every September 21st, many people around the world celebrate International Peace Day. Because Dr. Maria Montessori promoted peace education as an integral part of her innovative curriculum and was herself nominated three times for the Nobel Prize of Peace, we have a very strong reason to celebrate peace not just on September 21st but daily.

With all that is happening around the world today, when we think about our role in promoting cultural awareness and understanding, not only to the students and families of our school but in our homes, we feel we can contribute by teaching peace daily through an environment that is prepared to receive even the littlest of learners.

At our school in California, we incorporate many fun peace day activities on International Peace Day. We sing beautiful peace day songs, we light candles for peace, we create lovely art work of peace and of course we learn of peace in many different forms. But truly understanding all that peace involves cannot come to us because we celebrate just one day a year. We must celebrate and cultivate a life of peace education daily if we want our children and students to rise up as a generation that sincerely lives a life of peace, harmony and understanding one with another. There is actually a beautiful peace education model that many schools try to follow and incorporate into their daily school lives called “Nurturing the Peace Flower” put out by Shining Mountains Press.

In this model, children learn valuable peaceful skills in areas of:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Community Awareness
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Environmental Awareness

Peace tables have long since been used in Montessori Classrooms around the globe as a place where children can go to work out conflicts, share concerns with each other, find a quiet place to relax or rejuvenate or complete calming and meditative tasks. It is also a place where our students can read and learn about people who have been great instruments in promoting peace around the world.

Peace tables are not only for schools, they are a great tool to have at home as well. Best of all, they are very easy to set up! With a few ideas of what we have listed below, you too can help your children learn to be promoters of peace!

Here’s a brief list of ideas to help get you started:

  • First, designate a special area of your home as the “peace place” where you can put your peace table.
  • Place things like books about peace, pictures and info cards of creators of peace, photos and information cards of children around the world, objects that promote peaceful feelings such as seashells, stones, crystals, mini water fountains, sand raking work or mini labyrinths on your peace table.
  • Consider teaching family members to use a talking stick (we use a peace rose in Montessori classrooms) when teaching children to take turns talking during conflict resolution.
  • Have quiet music or soft musical instruments available. A small chime or music bowl is perfect in this space.

We hope these ideas are helpful as you prepare your own peace tables. We would love to hear how your home and school areas turned out and even see pictures!

-Barbara, Rachel and Kayla