Friday, January 15, 2021

Table Washing: The Ph.D. of Practical Life/Care of the Environment Works!

Many years ago when I had my school I gave a 4-year-old boy a lesson in Table Washing.  It's one of the Practical Life works done with water, and in my AMS training it is given in 73 discrete steps!  By the end of class that day I was so proud of the work he had done, I couldn't wait to tell his mother what he had learned and accomplished.  Sadly, she seemed to have no idea what a complex undertaking her son had achieved, clueless about how far he had come.  See if you can appreciate this work, recommended for children ages 2.5 to 4 years of age.

WARNING:  If you've never read a Montessori album before or never studied the importance of order and consistency for the young child, you will likely find the following bizarrely detailed and over-the-top.  There are good reasons for presenting this lesson this way.  For instance, since we read from left to right, top to bottom, we teach the children to work from left to right, top to bottom.  Also, this lesson would only be given to a child who has already mastered pouring water.  I'll spare you all 73 steps, but give you a taste.  Except for the apron, the materials you see are all from a dollar store, Target dollar bins and/or local toy store.

1.    Invite the child.
2.    Name the work, "table washing."
3.    Find a dirty, unoccupied table.
4.    Point out the dirt.

5.    Say, "Maybe we could wash the table so it's nice and beautiful.  Let's take the chair away so we can do our work."
6.    Move the chair.
7.    Place a large floor towel on the floor to the left of the table.
8.    Invite the child to put on the apron, saying, "It's just your size."
9.    Carry basin and bucket and place on top of the right hand corner of the floor towel.
10.    Remove bucket and place in the upper left corner of the floor towel.
11.    Remove pitcher and place in the upper center of the floor towel.
12.    Remove the soap dish with sponge and place in the lower left corner.
13.    Remove soap dish and soap and put to the right of the sponge.
14.    Remove brush and put to the right of the soap.
15.    Remove dish cloth and place it to the right of the brush.
16.    Carry the pitcher with both hands to the sink or water dispenser and fill 3/4 full.
17.    Carry the pitcher to your work area and hold it over the center of the basin.
18.    With right hand on the handle and left hand supporting the "tummy," pour all of the water into the basin.
19.    Holding the pitcher over the basin, shake the last few drops out.
20.    Carry the empty pitcher to the sink or dispenser to fill it again, repeating these steps until the basin has two inches of water in it.
21.    Put pitcher back on its place on the floor towel.

"Ahhhhh!  Smells so clean!"
72.    Say, "Let's smell the table."
73.    Name the work.  "Table washing."
"Wow!  What a difference!"

Can you imagine what an undertaking this work is?!  That's why I call it the "PhD of Practical Life."  It requires sequencing, order, core strength, precision, and great body control.  If this seems too much, start with a simplified version using just a wet sponge.

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