Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Montessori Dishwashing at Home

This is an adaptation of my dishwashing station from my classroom and great for Camp GonnaWannaFly for Flybabies  looking for ideas.  If I had the patience and the space, I could build a stand to do this.  Since I lack both, I opted for this easy set-up.  It was a beautiful day so we did this outside.  If you feel brave enough, this can be done inside just as easily!

*   apron
*   2 tubs
*   dishcloth or sponge
*   dish soap
*   water
*   dish rack (or basket to hold dishes
*   large towel (if you are working inside)
*  dish towel
*   items to wash

  1. Put on your aprons (yes, I forgot this important step in the pictures!)
  2. Lay out towel on floor if inside.
  3. Put two tubs on top of towel.
  4. Place one -two inches warm water in tub. Let the age of child & your comfort level determine who puts in the water!
  5. In first tub (on your left) place a small amount of dish soap. Again, let the age of child & your comfort level determine who puts in the soap!  A nice compromise is you putting in the soap & letting the child stir the water to make the suds.
  6. In second tub (tub on your right) place one to two inches water for rinsing.
  7. To the right of the rinse water, lay your drying towel out flat.
  8.  Tell your child, "I'm going to show you how to wash dishes.  It is my turn first."
  9. Dip the item in the sudsy water and wash it with the cloth/sponge.  The trick to modeling this is to NOT SPEAK WHILE YOU DO THIS.  Show your child, rather than tell, and move as if you are in slow motion.  The younger your child, the more important it is to move slowly.
  10. Dip the item into the rinse water.  Hold it up so the water drips off the item back into the tub.
  11. Place the item in the middle of the drying cloth.  Bring the edges of the cloth in to dry the item.
  12. When dry, place the item in the drying rack.
  13. Hand your child another item to wash, ask "would you like a turn?"
Helpful Hints
*   Once your child is working, DO NOT under ANY circumstances, stop & correct what they are doing.  That is the fastest way to insure that they will never want to wash dishes again.  The exception to this is if they are throwing water at the dog or trying to dunk a younger sibling in the suds, by all means stop them at once.  But if they are washing dishes incorrectly, leave them be.  You can always show them the routine again another day.
*   If you have a child-sized table, place the tubs on top of that.  Kids seem to work longer if they can stand comfortably.
*   If possible, use a cloth apron rather than vinyl.  One way a child knows she is doing it correctly is if she is dry at the end of the activity.  Cloth lets a child feel the water!
*   If you have a double sink & a safe way to stand at the counter, show your child how to wash dishes there.
*   Keep it fun!  The purpose of this activity is not to get your dishes clean, but to practice following a series of directions carefully.
*   Washing toys is a fun extention of this activity
*   If you are inside & really worried about water getting everywhere, use less water & a thicker towel or a rag rug under your tubs.
*   Setting things up to proceed left to right is actually a subtle reinforcement of a basic reading concept (reading left to right)

Remember, There are no Montessori Police!  No once is going to swoop down on you if you deviate from the instructions or if you come up with something completely different.  This is just one way for your child to play with water and learn a valuable life skill at the same time :)

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