Eating has become a time of familiar routines for us here in Cohort 5. This realization hit me the other day when IS wanted more crackers but the serving spoon had fell out. Rather than dipping his hand in it, he looked at me and signed more while also saying it. He remembered, without my repeating it, that we use the spoon to serve ourselves. I found the spoon and put it in the bowl. IS beamed happily as he worked and worked to navigate the spoon and scoop crackers then get to his plate without dropping them. After three tries, he successfully got two crackers on this plate. He was extremely proud of this accomplishment. It's hard work to hone those fine motor skills.
Lately Cohort 5 has added a lot to our previously simple eating times.We've introduced always using plates, for example. The first step in this was for us to eat outside with cloths on the ground as our plate. Inside we have small plates that are just the right size for the snacks and lunches served during the day. Small cups are used inside to hold milk at lunch or water at snacks while outside we use water bottles or those same cups if it happens to be lunch time. Though they are not captured in the pictures, we use bowls to serve food family style out of like always. As each bowl is emptied, it's removed from the table and put into our bus bin.
The skills that we are working and building on now during our eating times are taking our dishes to the bus bin. This is particularly challenging for new walkers we are are starting with just the plates for those that have just recently started walking. I bring the bus bin over and discuss with the child what we are doing as I help them to stretch and reach to set their dish in it before they leave the table. Eventually the bus bin will stay in one place and children will carry their dish to it. All of this helps prepare for when the children will move to our preschool house where the same routine occurs at snack and lunch time.
There are other familiar portions of our routine that have always been the same as well. For instance, we always sing a song before we eat. The preschool has a few they choose from, but in Cohort 5 we typically sing the following song:
Oh, the earth is good to me
And so I thank the earth
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple seed
The earth is good to me!