By Ms. Mary Lou
The kindergarten children hosted a beautiful and meaningful Harvest Luncheon last week. Each child invited one special guest to share a lovingly prepared meal. This event fulfilled two essential Montessori concepts — practical life along with grace and courtesy.
Through practical life activities, children become capable and independent human beings. It is the groundwork for good work habits, pride of a job well done and a strong sense of responsibility. The school grew a luscious vegetable garden this summer. Upon returning this September, the veggies were ready for harvest. In addition, the Extended Day group traveled to an apple orchard and hand-picked bags of Gala apples. The orchard visit taught them the various necessities of the honeybee, including pollination and honey production. As a result, the youngsters used these natural ingredients to prepare a healthy luncheon menu. These young chefs cut vegetables that grew underground, above the ground and on the vine. They prepared a gorgeous, green salad and a crunchy pasta salad. Honey butter was made by hand to spread on their dinner rolls. All was topped off by delicious apple pie. WOW replied one unexpecting father as he entered the room.
The aspect of grace and courtesy began with a hand drawn invitation of a garden and apple tree. Delivered to each family, the excitement was sparked. Frequently the children would engage in thoughtful conversation about their chore for the anticipated date. The children were provided cloth tablecloths and napkins to adorn the tables. The proper fork placement was presented as a lesson. The children found great joy in adorning the tables with fresh flowers, pumpkins and homegrown tomatoes. Each child observing and learning that a special meal deserves special preparation and attention from the host. When the happy day arrived, each child greeted their guest and kindly showed them their seat. Food, laughter and conversation was engaged by one and all. Later that afternoon, the children so very willingly helped the teachers dismantle the room. They put away chairs, carried food to the refrigerator and helped place dirty dishes near the sink. The space was a classroom once more, but not really.
They actually participated in a practical life transformation, a cycle. In Montessori we often refer to many different life cycles. Well this was one of them. These little people were hands on gathering the food, preparing the food and sharing the food with loved ones. A valuable and necessary life lesson in practicality, etiquette and most importantly generosity . . . how Montessori is that!