To do: Make a placemat for mealtimes. Practice setting the table!
Time: 15 minutes
Materials: Printable placemat below or your own creation
Shared meals are important moments of connection for a family in a busy day. How can you get your family into a mealtime routine, and let even your youngest children feel like a part of the process? We recommend trying out some of these Grace and Courtesy lessons from the Montessori classroom.
Grace and Courtesy lessons help your child answer the question, “What do I do, when”. For example, “What do I do when I sneeze?” or in this case, “What do I do when lunch is over?”
To get started, use this printable placemat or recreate one at home.
This placemat is for children of all ages, but we recommend starting around 18 months. It’s easy to identify what goes where on the placemat, and is especially helpful if your child knows exactly where to get his or her cup, plate, spoon, and fork to set up the lunch spot.
Activity: Mealtime Placemat
Of course, you can use this placemat however you’d like at home, but we have a few ideas to get you started.
First, print out the placemat or make your own using a sheet of printer paper.
Next, as a way to get your child excited about their very own spot at the table, write their name somewhere on the placemat. Either on the upper corner of the side with the images, or on the blank reverse side. Get creative with coloring as well, this is your placemat after all!
Finally, laminate the placemat or use a sheet protector so it can be washed off. An easy way to ‘laminate’ at home is to use packing tape, and carefully apply strips of tape to both sides to make it water proof. Simply cut along the edges to make a seal.
Now! Start your lesson in Grace and Courtesy.
Show your child exactly where they can find the utensils they will need for meal times. A special low cupboard or bin will do. Next, invite them to bring their things to the table, one at a time and very carefully.
Sitting side by side, ask your child to match up their meal tools like cups, forks, and spoons, with the placemat shapes! Explain to your child that whenever it’s time to get ready for lunch or dinner, they can set themselves up independently.
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