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When introduced to Montessori, I first fell in love with practical life activities. My kiddos did too. The activities were engaging. Results manifested themselves in so many ways, especially in the area of fine motor skills. Since that time, my kiddos still enjoy working on practical life skills, but they've become a bit sloppy with their activities. They don't really care if they spill water or a bunch of dried beans. In fact Bulldozer LOVES watching contents spill and splash. He craves visual input.
Last month, I observed my kiddos to see if they were ready to move on from practical life activities. Perhaps their sloppiness was a sign of boredom? That wasn't it though. There are still many skills they haven't mastered. Then it dawned on me. They needed to care about the contents of the activities! What if I switched out dried beans for edible food items they enjoy? What if I let them eat their finished activity? I wondered...
Since the start of the new year, I've introduced practical life with food activities into our weekly learning time themes. They have been a HUGE hit! We've done many practical life activities involving food in the past, but they were usually part of kitchen, baking or holiday units. They weren't something that was available week after week like they are now.
You wouldn't believe how much improvement I've seen in the kiddos' skills in just two weeks. Spilling the contents of their snacks and drinks during preparation has natural consequences. When the successful result of an activity matters, the kiddos work much harder to be precise and accurate. This makes me extremely happy.
Our month long learning time theme for January is Winter. So far we've completed two units: The Arctic Unit and Hockey Unit. Here's what our practical life with food activities have looked like. You'll notice I provide a lot of variety within each activity. This is due to food allergies and oral sensory issues related to some of the kiddos' autism. In our case, more variety provides more opportunities for every single kiddo to learn.
The Arctic Terrain
The kiddos used various tools to transfer several different textured foods to their plates. Tools included a ladle, scoop, tongs, serving spoon, and wooden spoon. Foods included yogurt covered cranberries, Bite Size Frosted Mini Wheats, shredded coconut, vanilla yogurt (or vanilla pudding), and plain and vanilla flavored Rice Chex. The kiddos also poured water into their cups for drinking.
Our second unit's practical life with food activity had multiple steps/activities included. First came the peeling.
Winter Snack Kabobs
Not all of our practical life with food activities will be as elaborate as the ones I've shown above, but I can assure you there will be many to come in future unit posts. There are so many practical life skills that can be learned using food as part of the activity.
Here are just a few:
Pouring Dry Ingredients
If you'd like to see more ideas, check out my Practical Life with Food Pinterest Board.
For more fabulous practical life activities, take a look at other posts included in 12 Months of Montessori Learning.
Amazing blogs involved in the 12 Months of Montessori Learning