Across cultures and time, food sharing represents a universal medium for expressing fellowship; it embodies the values of grace and courtesy. Our snack and lunch intervals, in the form of communal dining, provide an opportunity not only to eat, but also to talk, create, and strengthen bonds of attachment and friendship.
Food is a big component in our community. Throughout the work cycle, snack is made available in the nutrition area and the children are welcomed to serve themselves whenever they feel hungry. They are limited to two pieces and it encourages them to share within their community. The end of the work cycle is marked by an invitation to join the table for a communal snack, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to eat.
Lunch follows recess and three second-year children are invited to set the table up for lunch. Setting up includes the use of placemats, utensils, and glasses for water. Each child has a name tag which is placed in an area assigned by the second year student. Once the table is set, the children are invited to wash their hands and take a seat at the table. With everyone seated, we sing a song expressing our gratitude for the food. The menu is pronounced and the children generally share their excitement with one another regarding the food. We are exposed to a world of conversations during that hour — the children often talk about the taste, texture, and colour of the food, they refer to the food they ate for breakfast, and dinner the night before. Dessert is self-served; the children pass the bowl of fruit to their neighbour. This practice establishes the concept of sharing within their community.
The transition from rest time to dismissal is marked by the last snack of the day. We usually observe a lot of energy and excitement about the end of day. I’m sure you get to hear all about what they have consumed each day!
Children come with an instinctual ability to know when they are hungry. You can set your child up for successful food habits by encouraging them to be a part of the meal preparation, table set up, and clean up process. Independence can be encouraged by ensuring that snacks are accessible in the home. Lastly, grace and courtesy can be practiced when meals are shared as a family. — Ms. Dee
Casa South: The way to the heart is through the stomach, and doesn't Casa South know it! We love food in Casa South, eating, preparing, discussing, and learning about it. We try to cultivate a healthy relationship with food by allowing the children to interact with food in other ways than just eating it.
I love to have a recipe book in our book corner as an option of reading material. I love overhearing the children discuss what looks yummy or what they have made and tried before. I like the exposure the children have to the layout of a recipe, it's almost poetic! Ingredient measurements are literally mathematic fractions!
Casa South is home to a lot of food preparation Practical Life! I am very happy to report (and I'm sure the children would be too) that the children prepare all of their snacks INDEPENDENTLY. They peel and slice eggs, juice oranges, slice apples and pears, grate carrots and cinnamon, and even bake bread! A 5-year-old baking bread (INDEPENDENTLY) is really something to behold. It gathers quite the crowd when someone makes bread! All food preparation activities allow for children to have a sensorial experience, the smell of fresh bread, the taste of freshly squeezed juice, the unveiling of the yolk of a hardboiled egg! Preparing food is also a lesson in hygiene (of course!). The children wash their hands before and after, as well as tidy up their messes post preparation. It is wonderful to be able to prepare snack for yourself, but the added dimension of preparing snack for your friends is something truly special.
At lunch everyone has an opportunity to serve themselves. We wait for everyone to be served and recite a little thank you poem, because having a hot meal and food is a privilege! We discuss what we're eating, and if we like it or not. The group encouragement often results in even picky eaters trying something new!
Food, glorious food. An important aspect of the classroom and life! — Ms. Moffatt
Casa North: The children at the Casa level absolutely love taking responsibility for their snack. We treat snack preparation as we do any other Casa activity — something that is presented and repeated by individual children who show signs of readiness. We prepare trays in the morning with two options (apples, carrots, peppers, berries, pears, and much more!). The children who have been shown how to prepare snack will rinse or wash, slice, cut, and set out the snack for their friends. Once snack has been prepared, the children are welcome to serve themselves.
As with all of the other activities, we want the children to be able to self-regulate and foster their independence. Ideally, the children are navigating through the morning and afternoon work cycles organically — choosing Montessori activities that are independent or social, having meaningful conversations, looking at a book and/or observing a friend. Nutrition should fit seamlessly into the program. For this reason, we don't stop the buzzing work cycle to sit down and eat during a "nutrition break." I show the children to select snack, sit at the snack table, pour a glass of water should they want it, and tidy up. We encourage the children to think about how hungry they are, take into consideration that others in the community would also likely enjoy having snack as well, and keep these factors in mind when choosing a serving size.
Interacting with food in the Casa environment is a beautiful Practical Life activity that also starts a healthy and positive relationship with nutrition from a young age. If you're looking for ways to help support this at home, we always encourage involving your child with food preparation, baking, or cooking dinner. Giving them reasonable and safe tools sets them up to be successful, and you may notice that they start to enjoy foods that they didn't love before. Often when I ask the children about what they had for breakfast, they will tell me about slicing bananas for pancakes or peeling carrots for dinner, and they are absolutely beaming!
Thank you for all of your support, and if you have any questions about how to integrate food preparation in your home, as always I'm happy to help. — Ms. Boyle
Elementary children are cultural explorers, and food is at the heart of our cultural experiences, whether as a facet of biology, history, or daily experience. Having gained the skills during the first plane of eating with utensils and working with cutting tools to prepare food, the Elementary students build upon this foundation to increase their independence from their parents by packing their own lunches, and learning to cook!
Students continue to prepare a communal snack available to their classmates when desired throughout the morning, but now, a greater degree of planning and preparation is required. Each week, two students are assigned the duty of preparing snack, requiring them to check what we have on hand, prepare a shopping list, and go out in the community and purchase what they need within their weekly budget. They search the store for the best produce at a reasonable price (organic strawberries are a bit expensive in January...) and have to account for the dietary needs of all members of the class.
Elementary students require a lunch from home four days each week, and, as they mature, many rise to the challenge of taking over this task from their parents, choosing healthy grains, veggies, fruit, and protein options (or raiding last night's leftovers) to pack their own lunch. If your supervision is still required, involve your child as much as possible in making healthy, litter-less choices for good nutrition and environmentally-friendly practices. Our strict policy of healthy lunches with no chocolate, marshmallows, potato chips, or other sugary or salty snacks is designed to not only prepare students for the day's work, but also a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Cooking at home is one of the best nutritional and economic practices a child can learn, and each week our students work together to prepare and cook a vegetarian meal for our Community Lunch. At different times throughout the year, students may take on the responsibility of finding appropriate recipes, work with the fraction and multiplication materials to adjust the ingredients for more than twenty people, shop, and, of course, a lot of prep work! They learn to work in the kitchen as a team, prepare the dining space, and try to expand their palates.
Of course, one of the best things about having a kitchen in the classroom are the "happy little accidents" that produce something wonderful. In preparation for our "Jump Rope for Heart" fundraiser this week, a student went to work baking muffins for a snack break during the event. Upon discovering some ingredients were short, and that ALL of the blueberries had been fed to Zeus, she had to improvise! With a few substitutions, a new recipe took form, and everyone enjoyed the Oat-and-Molasses muffins she created!
Note: Your 2018.2019 school year calendar has an "Elementary Open House" listed for May 24. This was to be an open house for prospective families. Fortunately, our Elementary program for 2019.2020 is full. The May 24 open house has been cancelled.
Next week has two items to remember:
- Thursday, May 16: Toddler and Casa Show-N-Share (Toddler 3:30-4:00 | Casa 3:30-4:30). Please go directly to your child's classroom.
- Friday, May 17, and Monday, May 20: Victoria Day long weekend. No school.
Locke St. Construction Update: Starting Tuesday, May 21, Locke St. will be closed from Hunter St. to Melbourne St. (closer to the Main St. end). Adjacent one-way streets (Hunter, Bold, Pine, and Tuckett) will be converted to two-way streets with local access only to allow residents access to and from their homes. The City's notice has the following note:
This configuration will require patience and careful driving. Please be courteous to your fellow residents, yielding as appropriate.