Montessori Practical Life: Baking – Where to start

Do you bake at home? It’s one of my favourite things and yet it was (shamefully) the thing I had not yet given Quentin a real opportunity to do. He would do a small part. Turn on the mixer, get out the bowl, but really he would just work in his kitchen while I did it. Maybe once in a while mix in the flour.

What was stopping me? I don’t know. How complicated it would be. Or the mess factor I guess.

How very UN Montessori.

I decided to take a leap and plunged in…with something very simple.

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At his weaning table, ingredients divided into bowls ahead of time, some of the dry ingredients premixed.

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He started with stirring the oats already in his mixing bowl. I asked him if he wanted to pour. He said yes.

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Then he wanted to stir for a bit. There was a small “sampling”. He didn’t like it.

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He eventually said “Done”, got up and took off his apron. I cleaned up his table, got out his lunch and he ate while I rolled the Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies into balls and placed them in the oven.

So what did I take away from it all? It wasn’t hard to do. The pre measuring could have happened during a nap or after he went to bed for the next morning, but I did it while he was just in the other room and it didn’t take long. It was good that I had lunch ready to go so he could move onto something and I could finish and clean up. It was also good that it was a simple recipe. No exact measuring, no complicated ingredients.

I also saw the concentration, and delight in Quentin’s eyes throughout the process. He named (repeated the name) of each ingredient as it was added, and he knows that he made something for the family. He contributed to family life which is a big deal in the Montessori world.

The best part was just being able to share something that I love with him.

Some new store bought materials (gasp!) and a home made one

This was a week of new materials for the boys. Usually I try to make Quentin’s materials. Lets face it. They may not be relevant to him for very long and I love the fact that things can be easily made and easily recycled. However, there are so many beautiful store bought materials out there, and for us it’s the start of summer vacation. How could I resist?

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This arrived for both Quentin and Anthony. Quentin loves looking at the faces, and Anthony loves reading the poems with me and comparing how far away everything is. I guess when you live on an island, everything is far away. The photos are stunning, and the book is well laid out. It captivates both boys.

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This came for Quentin. At 14 months he definitely is in a sensitive period for opening things. I’ve seen similar boxes on Kylie’s site and on Rachel’s site. I immediately lusted after it and I couldn’t wait for Quentin to be ready to use it.

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This new placemat for our weaning table was made by my Mother. It was a wonderful surprise in our mailbox. Quentin feeds himself almost completely independently and that means we need more placemats. I love the fabric she chose.

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Lastly, these arrived for Anthony. Something that would take advantage of that summer sun. He tried a sheet and really enjoyed experimenting with different objects around the house. Oddly enough the tea ball (used for loose tea, not the toy) gave the nicest result.

Over the last few days there has been quite the discussion on the web of how “elitist” Montessori is. It makes me question my purchases. Should I feel guilty that I buy “expensive” materials for the boys? It would seem that society’s answer is yes. But I disagree. Instead of guilt I feel blessed. Blessed that I am able to carefully choose each material for my children, based on my observations of them. I don’t particularly feel the need to defend my love of beautiful books, interesting fabrics and natural materials. True, both my boys would do just fine with some dirt, sticks and rocks in the backyard. In fact we also spend many hours doing that. But I think a home can have a balance.

I’ve said it before that it’s all about the experiences. Whether store bought, home made or nature based, it’s the freedom we give our children to immerse themselves in the experience that’s important.