Wednesday, February 18, 2009

reading and eating

I've been thinking a lot about the prepared environment lately. In the Montessori classroom, we're always striving to create a space where the children can learn to become independent. Here's a glimpse of what goes through my head all day:
If I put this tray on that shelf, will they be able to lift it? Can they even see it?
The pink tower is chipped! How can I make it beautiful again?
Do child-sized snow shovels that aren't made of plastic and actually work exist?

I wanted to share a few snippets of our classroom environment with you. I have a few new ideas about incorporating language into the prepared environment - I'm imagining environmental print. I've gotten quite a few ideas from the write start. If you have any suggestions or opinions, do share!

Here's our snack set up:
Children can serve themselves a simple snack during the work period. They can eat at whatever time they choose, but only once. The snack is set on top of a low shelf. The bottom part of the shelf holds plates and cups (I need to find some glass cups - I like the ones Lisa uses!)

The children serve themselves the quantity that is on the card - they can either read the numeral or count the stars. As a control of error, there's just enough food for every child to eat once - if a child takes more than the quantity on the card, or eats twice, there won't be enough for everyone to have a snack.

When the children are finished,
they put their dirty dishes in this tub.

Okay, here's what I'm thinking:
**real glasses
**cloth napkins
**find a way for children to wash their own dishes (an independent pre-wash before they go in the dishwasher)

As for environmental print:
**a menu written on a white board
** table topics with pictures and print
**reading recipes off of cards

This is just a start! What do you do in your home/school?

9 comments:

  1. I really like the quantity cards. I have not thought of that and have often wondered exactly how to cut my daughter off. I think I might use that idea.

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  2. Wow, what an awesome idea! I feel like I make my kids snacks 20 times a day and it's getting to be exhausting (not to mention, expensive!) My oldest is starting to make simple snacks and small "meals" on his own, which is helpful.. but I've been trying to come up with a good solution so I'm not running to the fridge and pantry several time a day to get them food. This might just be my solution.. thank you! Hmm.. now where to put the set-up in our tiny little apartment kitchen could be a new dilemma.. :)

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  3. Oh my, you are talking to the right lady. I'm obsessed with making snack and lunch independent. Here is what I do.

    I have a specific "snack table" -- my snacks are set up next to the table similarly to yours. The child fills up his/her cup, takes snack and eats at the table. (I have no plates here becuase we use them for lunch only). When finished, the children take their cups (unfortunately plastic -- i used glass last year but they kept breaking in the dish washing station and it was getting dangerous)to the dish washing station. Only one child can do dish washing at a time during the morning work period. So what usually happens is that the cups pile up, someone notices, and washing begins. My washing station consists of two square basins and a drying rack. One basin gets water and soap, the other just water (washing and then rinsing!) Of course, there is a pitcher and bucket for transfer of water/clean up. Also, there is one type of rag for washing, another for drying.

    At lunch, we put our food on plates (again, I had to switch to plastic because all of our porcelin ones broke and if I keep buying them, I'm going to be broke!) When lunch is over, each child goes through the dish washing station and washes their dish. This can be extremely hectic and crazy! I'd say we are JUST getting good at it and it's February!! With about 18 children and under it is easily managed. Above that (like my lunch with 23!) it is definitely crazy.

    However, I think it's really important for the children to clean up themselves. So many times children eat and walk away from the table because they are so used to an adult picking up after them.

    Sorry for rambling. Hope it helps!

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  4. I read this post yesterday and I have been thinking about it...

    What about a recipe card that has the name of the snack and the number, and the bowls are labeled with just the name of the snack. Then the kids have to look back and forth from the recipe card to the snack and figure out their recipe by comparing the word on the card with the word on the bowl. It is the same scenario they're used to, but it just ups the challenge a bit reading-wise.
    Just a thought (I might try this at home this morning to give it a whirl...)

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  5. Thanks for all the great ideas! I can't wait to give them a try!

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  6. Great ideas here! I've been letting Esme have as much as she wants of her snacks, but I love the counting practice you've implemented. And I need to come up with a washing station. We use glass/ceramic dishes, but with only one kid, it makes sense!

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  7. I love the snack, especially the quantity cards. I would love to set this up for my gang! And it would be so nice to have snacks set up "self serve" like this!

    I recognize that picture in the backround...from "Dog Food"! We just got that book from a friend last week! :)

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  8. I have a similar set up for snack, but because I have a very large class, some go more than once when I am busy. I don't count out an exact amount of food because some do not go to the snack table and some bring snacks from home. We use real plates when we have parties or meals in class, but for snack we use laminated construction paper place mats, bowls for cereal, but fruit and crackers are just set on the mats. I have a bowl of water and cloth on the table for wiping their spot when they are done, and they take their dishes directly to the dishwasher. Cups are plastic, but the juice and milk pitchers are glass. I do use number cards for portions size.

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  9. My son's school has a serve yourself snack area, it is so lovely to see children as young as 2 and a half being so independent. They collect there name tag from the wall and place it at the small table to save their seat while they are filling their plate. When done the tag goes in a basket. This means each child can only visit the snack table once! I really like your idea of the quantity cards, not sure what they do for this.

    At my son's school they also add a flower arrangement to the table, which is a nice idea.

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