So the children have embraced the table setting practice. One day when I was getting ready for snack a child offered to help me set the table. I asked her if she wanted to do it herself. She responded enthusiastically with a yes. I quickly put a tray together of my materials (no shelf yet). She went straight to work. When the other children saw what she was doing they wanted to help but Helen wanted to do it herself. So I asked the children if I should make a sign up sheet.They said yes.
So I quickly created a sign up sheet. At our group meeting that day I let them know I would leave it on the table and they could sign up for a turn. Everyone rushed to sign up.
Each day the children took seriously the task of setting the table. Each child had their own style, some were less is more and some children were of the belief that more is more.
We have started a new tradition as well. When we sit down to enjoy our snack at our beautiful table we thank the child who set it.
The parents have gotten excited about it as well. I leave the table set for pick up time. The other day I had a parent take pictures of the table her child set. Parents come with flowers for the table sometimes as well.
“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer. “
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
“Why hurry over beautiful things? Why not linger and enjoy them.”
Just over a month ago I had the pleasure of attending Colleen Odowd’s presentation on her visit to Reggio Emilia. When I entered the room the workshop was being held in Colleen had beautiful centerpieces waiting for us on each table. Each centerpiece acted as a provocation. She had big beautiful china bowls filled with fortune cookies, gorgeous pewter platters with water beads and fresh herbs, beautiful glass trays with beautiful white sand and rocks. Each table was an invitation and I wanted to linger at each one.
During her presentation she spoke of how the educators in Reggio had centrepieces out on the tables everyday. She spoke of how the children got ready for lunch they would set the table with real dishes and create centrepieces themselves. She showed pictures of table settings that the children had created. They were stunning!
This spoke to my own aesthetic and family traditions. In my home meals were special, as a child I had often created flower arrangements for family dinners.
Well now that I have returned to the floor I decided I wanted to adopt this tradition at our preschool. So over spring break I went to the dollar store and bought some beautiful organza table runners, decorative rocks, crystals and platters.
The children have embraced it. Last Wednesday one child brought in cherry blossoms and daffodils for our table.
Today I set the snack table with three small copper bowls I had picked up at the thrift store. I filled two with decorative crystals and one with silk flowers. When the children came to snack one child said “I want to sit by the pretties.” The next child who joined us, stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the table and said “Its so beautiful.”
Here is what I notice about snack with this new tradition. The children linger. They do not rush to go back to playing. They talk to each other about whats on the table. We have long conversations about what we would like to do after snack. Sometimes the materials I set out inspire what we do in the afternoon.
I now want to start finding china teacups and saucers for snack. When I go into a store I look at things with this tradition in mind. It is my hope that in time the children will want to create the centrepieces.