Recently, on the school's Instagram account, I posted a picture of children having snack in one of our Primary (preschool) classrooms. I've been asked several questions about snack time since then so I thought it might be helpful to write a post about how snacks are handled in our school.
Each week, a different family brings in enough snack food for the week. They know what to bring because the teachers supply them with a list of favourite foods ( allergies taken into consideration). We encourage the parents to take their children with them to buy the snack, whenever possible so that the child feels she is a part of the process. As I've told many parents, I've heard children pointing out the food at the snack table saying something like "Look! Strawberries. You like strawberries, don't you? I picked them for you!" Once the food is brought into the classroom, the students help to clean and prepare it.
Snack time is always by choice in a Montessori classroom. The children quickly learn to watch for a space to come free at the snack table before preparing a plate. In our Parksville school, the children find their name tag in a basket and place it on the table while they go to wash their hands. This tells other children that the place, although empty, is actually being used.
Once her hands are washed, the child takes a plate from the shelf and helps herself to snack.
Numeral cards are placed in front of each bowl to help the children remember how many pieces of each type of food may be taken. This ensures there is enough food for all the children and that a child doesn't spend the entire morning at the snack table.
Then the child takes her plate to the snack table to eat.
The little yellow circle on the floor by the snack table helps the youngest children make a pile of crumbs when they sweep up after their snack.
When snack is finished, the children clean up their spot. They then rinse off their plates and place them in the drying rack. The table is wiped free of crumbs and any bits on the floor are swept up. At the end of the morning, all the dishes are put in the dishwasher to be cleaned. Finally, their name is put into the basket on the snack table.
In our Nanaimo classrooms, there is only one spot at the snack tables. There is a 'waiting' chair nearby. The teachers have found that this works very well and has saved them from having to remind a lingering child that others are waiting to have snack. Other than that, snack is handled the same way as in the Parksville classrooms.