For the most part, I sat on a chair and observed which gave me the opportunity to watch one of the Master year children make baking powder biscuits. The teacher has cleverly set up a tray with all the ingredient needed and equipped the classroom with a small toaster oven so an older child may make biscuits with very little assistance. The activity is for an older child who has had lots of practise transferring, spooning, measuring, pouring, carrying, and washing dishes.
The activity starts by putting on an apron and lifting the tray down from the shelf. The child then finds the teacher or assistant and asks the to turn on the toaster oven so that it is warm by the time the biscuits need to be baked.
Everything needed has been assembled onto one tray. The child measures out the right amounts by reading the recipe and using the correct measuring spoons to mix everything in a bowl. The photo below shows that the recipe is written out in cursive. This is another great way for the children to practise reading cursive.
Once all the ingredients are mixed, it is transferred by spoon to a silicon muffin tray. I particularly like this touch because the silicon removes the chance of fingers getting burned and the individual depressions help to keep the biscuits a uniform size.
Next, our baker dons oven mitts (purchased from Montessori Services) and places the tray into the toaster oven. Then a timer is set to a alert him when the muffins need to come out of the oven.
Finally, the hot oven signs are placed in front of the oven to remind the other children that the oven is hot.
While the biscuits are baking, the child washes up the dishes and places them back on the tray for the next person.
When the biscuits are finally ready, they are taken out of the oven and placed somewhere to cool. The child may eat one of them in the classroom, share one or two with friends, and take the remaining three biscuits home to share with the family. (Unfortunately, the photo I took of the final product, didn't turn out. I'll post a better picture next time a child makes biscuits.)
This is one of the advanced Practical Life activities that shows how effective and important are the preliminary and applied practical life lessons. Without the skills of spooning, pouring, measuring, tying, washing, sweeping, etc., the making of six biscuits would seem almost impossible to a young child. This activity also underlines the importance of the third year in a Montessori primary classroom because this is the time when those early lessons combine to become a permanent part of the child's understanding.