These photos were supposed to be at the bottom, but I posted my photos backwards, so here they are at the top. The preschoolers love to serve themselves and our Family Style eating really lends itself to letting them. The 2's are eager to join in this independent activity and watching their peers is having the effect I wanted, they are watching and learning :)
Little Miss M brings her lunch from home, so she doesn't get to serve herself from the family style meals we have. Yet, with a little planning and extra time, she and I get her lunch and snacks out together and she can arrange it on her plate. I also add a jug of water to the table and she and Sprout love to pour. This way even those children who have special diets can feel included and independent.
Yes, Family Style does lend itself to messes, but after they get the hang of it it really is such a time saver for me. When I would prepare everything and leave it on the counter, it was a constant barrage of, "Can I Have More of..." As soon as I would sit down they would start asking for more. It is great for me and them.
Little Man loves the new set up. He loved having access to EVERYTHING on the shelves. I don't even think he minded being gated out of the "messy" side of the room.
I tried to get a picture of the girls shooing away Little Man. One drawback is when they are working (intently) on a puzzle or another brain buster type of activity, Little Man always seems to be there :) I kept distracting him, and the girls finally got their puzzle finished.
New play dough station... I'm not sure the smaller table will work in the long run. They like to have space to move around. I also think I want to make a lip for the table, so maybe not as much play dough will make it to the floor. We'll see.
A little practical life work going on. Little Miss M was showing Sprout some work today... very cute.
I set up this independent little water table in the "messy" area of the room. It was a big hit. I saw something like this set up in a daycare classroom I had visited last year and have always wanted to set one up. I just never had the right space for it. Now that I have moved things around, I think this will work out pretty good. I can also change things up in it as needed because it is so small, you don't need to much to make it work.
A bigger view of the "messy" area where the kids are working so nicely.
I think I may like this set up, at least for now. I am hoping it will make it easier for the kids to better be able to access their Montessori work, art stuff, and play dough without Little Man being put at risk. We still do a lot of sweeping and vacuuming to make sure everything is safe, but if you have watched a crawler or have one yourself, you know they find even the most minuscule particle to put in their mouth. Ahhhh, always on my toes :)