By Anastasia Rehbein
A change of seasons brings a whole kaleidoscope of new emotions, feelings, colors, excitement and anticipation.
Changes in nature create a special atmosphere in classrooms and call for new adventures and learning opportunities. However, it also means that our bodies have to adjust. In autumn and winter, there is less sun exposure, less time spent outdoors, and the immune system is not as strong. All these factors make it hard to survive the cold and flu season.
Challenge is especially real in places like schools and childcare centers, where children come in close contact with each other. Many parents try their best to keep children at home when they are ill. However, runny noses and coughs are common in the classroom and impossible to avoid during these times. Children unknowingly spread germs when they touch furniture, materials and toys. I’ve always believed that the best way to battle these difficulties is to be prepared. When energy levels are down, there are multiple ways to use Practical Life activities in the classroom and at home to help children and adults become more resilient and help fight anything that might try to bring them down.
I’ve thought of a few simple solutions that can be easily implemented in the Practical Life area to assist you during the cold and flu season.
First of all, it is important to present to children relevant Grace and Courtesy lessons on how to:
- Use tissues to wipe the nose and dispose of dirty ones properly
- Wash hands
- Cover mouth when coughing
Hand Washing Station
Since the older method of washing hands in not relevant anymore, hand washing activity is not found in many Montessori classrooms. Nevertheless, it is a great way to emphasize the importance of keeping children’s hands clean. This activity has a calming effect on children and encourages them to clean their hands and nails very thoroughly, and the old style pitcher and bowl look absolutely gorgeous in the classroom setting. On a side note, I would recommend placing nail brushes for cleaning nails on the bathroom sinks as well.
Furniture Placing Activity
This is another example of how children can help you to keep your classroom free of germs. Just keep in mind all water activities with soap that are done indoors (opposed to verandah or porch) have a potential to become very messy and floors become very slippery. So just be prepared.
There are a million examples of food preparation activity trays with healthy whole food choices that do an amazing job at keeping those little bodies strong and healthy. These are top fruit and vegetables that are rich in nutrients: berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Some examples of Practical Life activities that can assist in supporting strong immunity:
- Crushing garlic
Obviously, you need to warn children not to rub their eyes with garlic juice. Children may like to spread a tiny bit of the crushed garlic on bread and butter. Some children really don’t mind a bit of spicy taste in their food.
- Juicing mandarins
I find oranges to be too big for little hands.
- Pitting cherries or olives
- Making butter
- Adding honey to cereal or yogurt using a honey dipper
- Chopping apples and slicing bananas and berries
- Grating carrots and cucumbers
- Grating cinnamon to sprinkle on toast with honey
- Scooping watermelon or melon
- Making a snack with celery sticks, cream cheese and raisins
Ants on a log.
- Preparing fruit or vegetable salad
- Peeling and slicing a boiled egg
Anastasia Rehbein is the founder of the well respected Montessori Nature blog. The success and flexibility of the blog and the materials available to subscribers has allowed her to embrace Montessori homeschooling her two beloved children. In terms of education, Anastasia has a degree in Information, Technology and Languages, a post graduate Education qualification and speaks four languages. As a professional, she has worked with children and as a Montessori Early Childhood professional, for the past 15 years in Russia, Europe and Australasia. Anastasia’s work and ideas are featured in Montessori International magazine and recently published books – Montessori At Home Guides for parents. She believes in building honest communication with other parents through her blog.