Education for Life
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
In the Lotus Cottage, we bake our snack every day. This month we are making pumpkin muffins, in honor of the season. This is one of the most beloved activities in our class, and the scent of pumpkin and cinnamon fill our classroom every morning. But the benefits of baking go far beyond being an enjoyable social experience and a delicious snack. The ability to concentrate, the refinement and coordination of fine and gross motor movements, and the development of independence are central to a child’s growth and development between ages 3-6. In the Children’s House, we support this stage of development by offering children real and purposeful activities, using their hands, accompanied by mental concentration and movement.
Baking and preparing food are two excellent examples of these types of activities. Baking is real, not make-believe. It is purposeful, challenging, fascinating. There are many steps to remember, and one must follow them in order to be successful. Carefully cracking the eggshells, pouring just enough oil in the measuring cup, spooning the batter into the pan… all invite the children to be precise and careful with their movements. Responsibility and persistence are naturally built in, as children wash dishes and clean up as they go along. Ultimately, baking is a social activity, carried out not only for one’s own benefit but for the enjoyment of the entire community.
The baked snack is accompanied by fruit, also prepared by the children. We peel oranges and break them into sections; slice apples and arrange them on a platter; peel and slice bananas and place a toothpick carefully in each piece. When we carefully show a child each step, slow down our movements so they can watch and absorb, offer a child an orderly environment and properly-sized tools, it is amazing what they can do successfully.
This winter, find ways to include your child in preparing food with your family! Children can help make a grocery list, pick out fruit and vegetables at the market, wash strawberries, cut the ends off of green beans, scrub potatoes, break cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, shuck corn, crack eggs, stir pancake batter, roll out cookie dough, squeeze oranges, set the table… Food is something that brings people together, universally, and children love to be included in the life of the family!
Our recipe for pumpkin muffins
Wash hands and collect all ingredients and utensils. In a large bowl, mix the following:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In another bowl, mix the following:
1 cup pumpkin puree (we steam a pumpkin and scrape out the cooked flesh; you can also use canned puree)
3/4 cups oil
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Preheat oven to 175*C. Fill the muffin cups half way with batter Bake the muffins for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.