Practical Life Activity: Pumpkin Washing
Does this sound familiar? You wake up from a restful sleep, a total of 3 hours broken up into half-hour intervals by your baby waking up in middle of the night, wanting to nurse or to be held. Groggy, you let out a big yawn, pick up your baby, and commence to walk down the stairs to begin the day. As you step down from the stairs, you let out a big yelp, and look down to see which toy you stepped on. Then you look up, and you are met by a scene that is way too familiar…
Well today, just like many days throughout the week, I vow to clean up the mess. However, with Zoe right next to me, I know what’s going to happen. As soon as I put a toy away, she will take it out to play with it. And as soon as I pick up another toy, she will throw the previous toy across the room, and come to take the one from my hand. Cleaning with a toddler is a vicious cycle of pick up toy, put away toy, and toy getting thrown all over the place. Therefore, I need to come up with something to distract her.
Since Halloween is coming up and we are psyched about all the pumpkin patches opening up, I decided to do something with the little pumpkins we have at home. Coloring and decorating the pumpkins definitely requires supervision if I don’t want to have colored carpets and walls. Then I thought of a Montessori activity that might be perfect to distract Zoe – a washing station. I remember when Alex was little and I brought him to a mommy & me Montessori class that all he did was wash this fake lizard with a little sponge and clean it with a small brush. I mean, water is involved, and what kid can resist water?
So, I looked around for a sponge and a brush, and of course, it’s not as easy as I thought. I didn’t want to give Zoe a dishwashing sponge because the rough side might hurt her skin. I wanted to give her a flat brush that is about the size of her hand, but all I could find was the heavy duty one that I used to scrub the bathtub, so it is way too big for her to wield. Then I turned around and there it was, the answer to my problem…a sponge scrub bristle brush that the hospital gave us when Zoe was born! Remember that thing? I hadn’t used it in so long that I had forgotten it was there, in the pile of toys, and it was just the perfect tool for this activity.
I also took out the grout brush for this activity in case Zoe wanted to explore different tools to clean the pumpkin. You can use a regular toothbrush – I just happened to have the grout brush nearby, and I didn’t have any spare toothbrush. And I just grabbed an old washcloth for drying the pumpkin and for wiping up general spills (you know that’s bound to happen!). I took out a fairly shallow bowl so that Zoe could reach her hand in easily without risking tipping over the bowl with her arm. I also didn’t fill up the bowl with water because you know that all the water will probably eventually be on the table or the floor, so I just put enough for her to get the sponge wet to wash the pumpkins. Ideally, you would want a tray to catch all the water for this activity, but since I didn’t have a tray readily available and I don’t mind a little water on the carpet, I omitted the tray for this washing station.
To begin, I showed Zoe how to dip the sponge in the water and then wet the pumpkin with the sponge. Then, I helped her turn the brush around so that she could use the bristles to clean the pumpkin. She decided that the more efficient way was to just dip the bristles in water and brush the pumpkin…she was not wrong!
One of the pumpkins was drawn on by Alex with a washable marker, so that made it extra fun to clean. To my surprise, Zoe didn’t seem to care too much about the grout brush and only wanted to clean with the sponge scrub bristle brush. I loved watching her focus on the task at hand and it looked like she was really concentrating on scrubbing and drying the pumpkin!
After some time passed (I did make some progress putting away some toys), the unavoidable happened – some water spilled on the table. Zoe right away took the washcloth and started drying the table. She also took this chance to clean the brush with the washcloth. Go more practical life skills!
That night, Alex came home and saw the pumpkin washing station on the table. He also jumped in on the fun! He took the washable markers and drew on the pumpkins and both kids sat together and cleaned their own pumpkin. Siblings able to sit side-by-side without fighting for 5 minutes? This Pinterest venture is a success!
What practical life skills do your little ones like to do at home?