One of my favourite Montessori Practical Life activities; table scrubbing. Simple for kids to do and you end up with a clean table, double win.
Table scrubbing is one of my favourite Montessori Practical Life activities, Scout's too. So the other morning when the little table was covered in paint and dirt she figured it probably could do with a scrub.
Why is it a great activity?
Little people learn by doing, carrying a bucket, water, bubbles, dirt coming off a table, it's all helping their brains understand a little more of the world. Kids love purpose, repetition and making a mess. Funnily enough they can also really enjoy cleaning up that mess too. It's amazing how much a simple exercise like scrubbing a table can do.
Children also need to develop their shoulder muscles for pre-writing preparation, your shoulder is actually really important for helping you navigate your pen and this activity is a great one for that. The most important outcome of this exercise is that the table ends up ready for use again (it can't be left wet and bubbly but close enough) and that all the materials end up packed away where they started.
A scrubbing brush, a face cloth or small towel, a bucket, a small container of washing up detergent and a jug. It's best if the materials are beautiful so no crappy broken buckets or manky brushes, children love pretty things and will be more likely to look after them carefully. You can buy amazing materials here.
In a classroom environment they usually wear an apron but we don't bother at home. I have written all about my thoughts on why Montessori at home is allowed to be a bit more flexible here but not everyone will agree with me.
In all Practical Life activities you need to present the entire process to the child before you let them have a go, the less talking the better, you want them to watch you watch your hands not your mouth. I have a little bucket with everything Scout needs to table scrub (except the jug), that lives on her Montessori shelf (which I still haven't shared yet – I'm writing it on the to do list now) there is no reason it can't live in the cupboard under the sink though.
To present you need to get your bucket, bringing it to the table, we tend to scrub it on the front porch, and place everything out carefully on the floor. Next you pour the water into the bucket and demonstrate dipping the brush into the water, then I put a little soap on the table and scrub in small circles from the left hand side of the table to the right. You want to mimic the way we read words on a page as much as you can before the kids learn to read, this way starting in the top left hand corner will be more natural to them.
Then you invite the little one to have a go and try just to let them do it without intervening at all. After the whole table is covered in soap and all the crayon/paint/Wheat Bix/Play-Doh has been removed you show them how to wipe all the soap off with the cloth, empty the bowl, dry it out and pack everything away where you found it. Anything wet can be either put in the washing basket or hung out in the correct place.
We have a little washing line next to our wash stand and the spare cloths live here so she usually grabs one of them, re-folds it and pops it back in the bucket.
When you have packed everything away tell them that they can scrub the table whenever they want.
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