I mop our kitchen and dining floor every night with a spray bottle of natural, toxic-free cleaner and a swiffer. From the moment Z (2.5) knew how to ask for stuff, he’d been asking to use my spray bottle to help me clean the floor. This is such a great Montessori practical life activity for him — care of his indoor environment. Z is in his sensitive period for practical life work right now and is just dying to be able to participate in house cleaning!
I thought that getting him a similar-looking swiffer from our dollar store would satisfy his need to help me clean. But it didn’t complete him — he needed to use the spray bottle too. The one I use is far too big for him, and despite looking high and low for a loooong time, I couldn’t find a child-sized one where I live. Then we went to Niagara Falls, New York and I found the perfect one at the Dollar Tree!
I didn’t need to demonstrate in any great length anymore, because he had seen me do it so many times. Now, he can do it on his own too. It turns out it wasn’t swiffer-mopping skills that he needed to learn, it was spraying with a bottle that he wanted to practice. I was more than happy to let him go crazy with this, after all it’s a vital whole-hand muscle strengthening exercise. The “Montessori at Home!” e-book explains it best with photos.
He started out very focused. Cleaning the table. Then he tried cleaning the side of the kitchen cabinets. Then I asked him to clean his work/play table when it looked like he was going to scrub the laminate off the poor table. Then I suggested why not clean the chair too. He was having a blast.
He picked up this activity a few more times over the next several days. Then one day while I was busy, he decided it was time to explore cleaning other stuff. Spraying his hair and face. Cleaning his toy guitar. Cleaning a little ball. What would happen if he sprayed water on a piece of paper?
I am happy for him to explore, for in doing this he is making so many new discoveries. Such good, clean fun!