The materials shown in this post were sent to me by Montessori Services (a company I love, trust, and have personally spent more than I care to admit with this year alone), for the purpose of review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all information and opinions shared are my own. Read to the end for your chance to win $50 to spend on anything you’d like from Montessori Services. If you visit Montessori Services by following one of the links within this post, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you, and those funds will go to support the work of this blog and of our little Montessori school (thank you!). This is the perfect time to shop, because they’re offering free shipping until the end of March on orders over $50.
How did you spend the first day of Spring? In the classroom, Annabelle and a few other preschoolers spent a portion of it doing a recent favorite work: flower arranging. A popular Montessori Practical Life exercise, flower arranging can be done outdoors or in, by cutting flowers directly from the garden or by choosing from a selection prepared for inside. It can even be done with silk flowers if fresh aren’t available or practical. The work fits into the category of Care of the Environment, as it inspires children to take part in the creation of a more beautiful classroom or home.
I introduced flower arranging into our classroom earlier this month, and it has been such a joy for me to see the many skills that naturally come together as the children work with it. On the surface, it seems like a fairly simply task: get some flowers, place them in a vase, right? Not exactly. In this one activity alone, children exercise their fine and gross motor skills as they carry a tray, a vase, a pitcher of water – all slowly and carefully. They practice concentration as they admire the beautiful materials available and choose just the right vase and flowers, and as they select the perfect place for their arrangement, perhaps including a doily as an additional touch. They pour water through a funnel, using their skills of estimation to determine when it’s time to stop. They practice their cutting skills while again estimating, determining just how much of the stem they need to trim off to make the flower fit into the vase of their choice. Their attention to detail alerts them to any spills or drips, which they carefully wipe up with a sponge or a towel, and they practice following through with a sequence of steps. The whole activity is so engaging, so calming, so centering for the child, and it provides a rich opportunity for the adult to observe the many skills the child has perfected. I really think it’s uniquely wonderful, this work. Of course it calls on the child’s creativity as well, which is likely a large part of what makes it so appealing.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but the activity can be adapted and simplified for the younger child, or for a child who has had less experience with the Practical Life activities that refine the above skills: Flowers can be pre-cut so that scissors aren’t needed. Wide-mouthed vases can be used so that a funnel isn’t required. If silk flowers are used, there’s no need to pour water into the vase. There are many ways to do this work, but all inspire care of the environment, and all are tremendously beneficial.
I received our flower arranging materials as a ready-made activity from Montessori Services, a company that provides a wide variety of Montessori materials for the classroom or home. While they offer materials for every curriculum area, I’m particularly fond of their Practical Life activities. Before I had children, when teaching was my top priority, I loved leisurely shopping for treasures I could use in my Practical Life activities, and I would get such a thrill when I found something that I knew would fit just perfectly in a specific activity. With two children and one on the way, I don’t have the time for that sort of leisurely shopping now, but I get the same thrill when I unpack all of the carefully selected elements that make up Montessori Services’ ready-made activities. Not only do they ensure that every item they sell is well-suited to the child’s use, but they’re attentive to all of the little aesthetic details we Montessori teachers are thinking about when we prepare an activity.
When I opened the box containing our flower arranging activity, I was particularly thrilled by the beautiful floral apron and the way its colors seemed to go along perfectly with the tray. For some reason, several of the children I work with are less than crazy about aprons and sometimes “forget” to put them on, or inform me that they simply don’t need them. I have not seen a single child forget to wear the apron while flower arranging, however. It just fits so perfectly, and seems to draw them to the work just as it does me. The activity also includes a variety of different vases, all of which are gorgeous, lace doilies for placing underneath arrangements, a perfect container for holding flowers to be arranged, a sturdy pitcher for carrying water to fill the vase, a bowl that can be used for clippings, a pair of scissors, a metal funnel, a sponge and a set of cotton towels, and a vinyl mat.
Every element of this work seems to be perfect. I have observed many children using it and have not needed to change or tweak anything except for my own set-up of the work (make sure you don’t squeeze too many flowers into the container – some may fall out when the children are trying to choose one!). I did add a few extra doilies that I had on hand, as the activity only included one small and one large and this work has been tremendously popular in our classroom, but the work was just fine without them. The work has been used every single day since I added it to our classroom, and I have seen incredible concentration and pride in the faces of the children who have chosen it. Every single child who has had a lesson has repeated the work on their own on a subsequent day, and the little vases of fresh flowers were the perfect touch as we waited for Spring’s arrival. I’m looking forward to taking our flower arranging outside when the gardens begin to bloom and the weather becomes more favorable for long periods of outside work.
I highly recommend both flower arranging in general and the flower arranging activity from Montessori Services (item number PL21 in the Montessori Services catalog) for any primary classroom or Montessori home. While I think it’s suited perfectly to the 3-6 age group, it can also be simplified for toddlers and would surely be enjoyed by elementary students as well. The complete set sells for $58.50, which is a good deal when you consider all of the items it contains, but if you have some of the necessary things around your home or classroom already, you can also order individual vases for as little as $1.95 or their beautiful set of tiny hand-blown glass vases for $13.95, and small doilies are great quality and just $0.95. I have already run ours through the wash more than once, and they came out as good as new.
For the rest of March, Montessori Services is offering free shipping on all orders over $50 using the code FREE SHIP 50, so this is a great opportunity to browse their other shelf-ready classroom activity sets. Personally, I just stocked up on yard and garden tools in preparation for the beautiful spring weather to come.
Montessori Services has kindly offered a gift certificate in the amount of $50.00 to one lucky reader with a mailing address in the US or Canada. You can use the rafflecopter widget below to enter to win and use your prize to buy whatever you have your eye on, whether that’s a flower arranging activity of your very own, or something else entirely.