Montessori Inspired Salad Bar

A big part of the Montessori philosophy is creating a “prepared environment”- a setting which fosters a maximum amount of independence for your child.  A perfect example of this principal is allowing your child to (help) make their own meals and snacks.  A fantastic place to start is with our Montessori inspired salad bar!

Salad Bar Banner.png

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • Soft veggies for slicing (like tomato and avocado)
  • Leafy green mix
  • Protein of your choice (we used pesto grilled chicken)
  • Dressing of your choice
  • Plate
  • Egg Slicer
  • Measuring cup/scoop

Presentation:

Creating your prepared environment will be determined, in large part, by the age and independence level of your Little, as well as your personal comfort with your Little using certain kitchen tools.

Personally, I do not allow our 2 yo to use sharp knives.  Therefore, I sliced the tomato and avocado into pieces that would fit into the egg slicer.  Your objective is to find the point where you maximize your Little’s independence and minimize your involvement.

In our home, this means I slice the avocado in half, but my Little removes the peel.  She rinses the tomato and removes the stem, but I cut it in half.  She can pour the leafy green mix into the bowl, since it is  hard for her to scoop out of the bag, but I measured a few teaspoons of dressing into a bowl because I wanted to limit the amount of dressing she could use.  Use your own good judgement.

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One kitchen tool we purchased from Montessori Services that we use over and over again  is the white egg slicer.  From slicing strawberries to avocados (and also hard boiled eggs), my Little has a use for this tool on a daily basis.  She loves using it, and it is safe enough for her to prepare her own snack  with  minimal interference from me!  I feel like this is a fantastic (super affordable) investment for anyone who wants to bring Montessori into their kitchen.

I  laid out the soft vegetables first along with the egg slicer.  If this is your child’s first encounter with this tool, demonstrate it’s proper use and show your Little the wires.  Explain that they must keep their hands out from under the wires and only push down on the slicer with both hands (insuring they won’t have any fingers underneath).  The wires themselves are not sharp, but it would be painful to get a finger caught.

Next, I placed the leafy green mix with a 1 cup measure.  I instructed my Little to take 1 careful scoop.  After that was the small bowl of dressing, which was able to pour over the salad (thank you Foundational Pouring activities!) quite accurately.  Last, I had the plate of cooked chicken, which I’d already cubed.

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The most challenging part of this activity for my little was scooping the  lettuce.  This lets me know we need to add more scooping exercises to our Montessori shelf!  Which part do you anticipate, or did you  find  out, is the most difficult for your Little?  Let me know in the comments!

Check out photos of other Montessori inspired activities on our Instagram, follow us on Facebook & Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest!  Thanks for visiting, and please leave me your comments!

 

 

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Rainbow Rice: Foundational Pouring

Rainbow Rice Banner

Happy Friday everyone!  Looking to kick off your gorgeous spring weekend with a bang?!  Create this week’s engaging Montessori Box- Rainbow Rice: Foundational Pouring Skills.  Your Littles are guaranteed to love it, and you only need a handful of materials.  Don’t feel like dying rice today?  Scroll down to the Pouring Activity which can be done with plain, white rice.  Don’t let your Little miss out on this fantastic fine motor practice!

Rainbow Rice Supplies:

  • 1 cup white rice per color (uncooked)
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar per color
  • container with tight-fitting lid
  • assorted food coloring
  • baking sheet (or other flat surface, lined with wax paper/parchment paper/plastic wrap, where rice can dry)

Ingredients

Directions:

Get ready to have your mind blown over how EASY this is.

  1. Pour 1 c. uncooked rice into your container.
  2. Add 1/2 tsp. vinegar and several drops food coloring (the more you add, the more vibrant your colors will turn out).
  3. Tighten that lid
  4. SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE- until color is evenly distributed over the rice                      ****If your Little is 18mo or older, they can help you with this part.  They’ll love the noise the rice makes and love seeing the color spread!***
  5. Pour rice onto baking sheet or flat surface and spread into a thin layer to dry (several hours or overnight).  The vinegar smell will completely dissipate over time.
  6. Rinse out your container and repeat steps 1-5 until you have as many colors as you’d like!

Foundational Pouring Activity Supplies:

  1. Work Mat or Tub (a large, plastic tub will keep the rice contained for easy cleanup)
  2. Two Measuring Cups with Spouts
  3. Rainbow Rice (or regular rice, beans, or lentils all work great)

Foundational Pouring:

This activity is designed for Littles 18mo and up.  Of course, you can go as “Montessori” as you’d like or just let your Little explore and figure it out for themselves.  The traditional Montessori method dictates you wordlessly demonstrate each step, deliberately and with perfection, for your Littles.

When I first introduced pouring to Rosie, she was only 17 months.  I knew she’d never sit for a presentation, so I didn’t try.  I just laid out the materials as described below during her nap, so it was all ready in her playroom when she woke up.

She figured it out all on her own, though without the “beauty” and precison Maria Montessori would have liked.  When she was a few months older, I did a formal pouring presentation.  We are definitely in the “sensitive period” for pouring now!

Rainbow Rice Setup

Formal Presentation:

Arrange the two measuring cups on the Mat (or in the Tub).  Fill the one on your Little’s right with rice.  Leave the other empty.  Invite your little to watch a new presentation.  Tell them this activity is called “Pouring Rainbow Rice.”  First they will watch while you have a turn, and next they get to try.  Then, no more talking.  Remember- we don’t want Little to be listening to your words, we want them watching your actions.

Deliberately and s l o w l y pick up the cup filled with rice.  Center the spout over the middle of the empty cup.  S l o w l y pour the rice until the cup is empty.  Gently and silently place the cup back onto the mat (or tub).  Pick up the newly filled cup and repeat.  Invite your Little to give it a try.

Remember to only observe.  The whole theory behind Montessori is that you are not a teacher you’re a director.  Don’t jump in and yell CUT if you can tell your Little has the cups lined up wrong and is bound to pour rice all over the mat.  Just let it happen.  They will learn way more by seeing the result of their mistake.  This is so hard, but just step back.

Make mental notes of what movements could be corrected.  Perhaps Little isn’t centering the spout.  Perhaps Little is pouring too fast.  Next time you or your Little want to do rice pouring, you can lead another presentation emphasizing the areas they’re struggling with.  Remember to stay silent while you present so they can really watch.

After your Little is finished tell them you will now show them how to put their “tools” away.  (Remember, Montessori activities aren’t toys- they’re tools.)  I love a 3-compartment box for this activity.  I pour all the rice into a little plastic tub in one of the compartments and place the measuring cups in the other two.  Then, carry the box with two hands to the shelf or area where it will live.  From here on out, encourage (*cough* demand *cough*) Little to clean this activity up and put it away each time they’re finished.  Depending upon their age, of course, your Little might need help cleaning up.

Leave comments on how this activity worked for you, and which skills or activities you’d love to see more of!  Also, remember to follow us on facebook, twitter @MontessoriBox and  check out the videos of this activity on YouTube.