At 4.5 years old, Montessori practical life at home starts to look very different for Zachary. After practising many years of Montessori at home, he now has a greater ability to combine all the practical life skills he has cultivated over the years. It is no longer an isolated skill activity like it was before. Now we are combining different skills in doing an activity that is truly relevant, purposeful and meaningful for our family.
Growing spring onions from kitchen scraps is just one example of a meaningful and relevant activity for us. It is Montessori practical life, but also botany. If you add nature journaling to this activity, or observe its growth over time, it also covers art, science and history.
We did this one afternoon when Zach was getting especially restless. He did not hesitate to accept my invitation to do some indoor gardening. I was actually surprised that he dived in with full concentration; I have not seen this kind of “determination” since he was 2 years old – he kept scooping and transferring the soil, and nearly overfilled it because I was too busy taking photos. He would usually engage me in many activities we do, but this time was different – he truly engaged with the work. It was as if I wasn’t there at all.
And we didn’t only do this gardening activity, we also planted cantaloupe and acorn squash seeds in the same sitting. He just wanted to do more gardening. It was as if he really needed to feel and work with the earth, with other living things. It was also as if his spirit had really needed to revisit all of those activities he did when he was younger. I remember how differently I felt during this time than any other time when we work together. It truly felt as though I wasn’t there at all, at best I felt like I was in his way.
Anyway, sorry for the sudden deep reflection.
Here’s all that he did in this activity: (and notice all of the various practical life skills used)
- Get an empty pot and fill with pebbles – pouring activity.
- Fill the pot with potting soil – scooping activity.
- Transplant the spring onions – borrowing skills from the hammering activity here, where he has to hold the spring onion steady and upright with one hand while the other works.
- Mist the leaves – using a spray bottle in various activities such as cleaning a table.
- Water generously – care of plants.
- Clean up – using a dustpan and brush, then wiping the table.
It doesn’t end there. It’s an activity that keeps calling him to work those practical life muscles.
- Water as needed – care of plants.
- Snip spring onions for food garnishing – cutting with scissors.
Here’s Zachary snipping a bit of spring onions to garnish his fried rice.
As a side note, the unfortunate thing for us is that these spring onions don’t seem to like our pot. There’s any number of reasons why, but I’m not sure at this point what is causing them to stop growing. It could be that we used potting soil instead of regular soil, so maybe lack of nutrients Bad drainage? We used a pot without a drainage hole and maybe putting pebbles at the bottom wasn’t good enough to prevent root rot?
Right now it seems there is greater success just leaving the spring onions to grow in water. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had success growing spring onions in soil and know what’s the trouble with ours.