Hand Work

Little Girl Knitting by Albert Anker
Little Girl Knitting by Albert Anker

We do a lot of hand work at school.

There’s woodworking, sewing, finger knitting, fish braiding (initiated by one of the children who also likes the privilege of being the one to present it to the others), weaving, crocheting and more recently, following paper patterns to make soft toys.

This year I plan to introduce children to knitting. Ideally, I would like to show them how to make their own wooden/bamboo knitting needles. It would call upon some of the wood working skills they have already gained and I am sure they will love the process of making the needles.

It is important to sow the seeds of a great many things in the elementary years. Children are still enthusiastic and willing to try their hand at all manner of ‘new’ pursuits. In the developmental stage that is to follow – the adolescent years, one sees this spirit decline. Instead adolescents want to ‘create’. What they do not want, is to start working from scratch on the skills they need to bring to life what they are imagining. If the skills have already been gained then they will use them and express themselves through their creations. This need for self-expression has resulted in substantial blocks of time being put aside for creative and self expression during the erdkinder years.

Work with our hands is important at every age.

“Men with hands and no head, and men with head and no hands are equally out of place in the modern community…” – Dr. Maria Montessori (Childhood to Adolescence)

Star Gazing

A few nights ago some of us in the elementary had a star gazing session at school.

We left school at the usual time of 3:00pm, but met again after sun down at 6:00pm. The approaching darkness while being at school was terribly exciting for the children.

We started our evening with Tchaikovsky’s nutcracker ballet playing in the background and 14 little hands peeling, cutting and grating, making a yummy winter vegetable soup for our supper. (recipe at the end of this post)

Once soup was ready we made our way to our neighbours terrace, who had graciously offered his view of the night skies, for the evening.

One of our parents had brought along his telescope and we held our breath as we saw Jupiter and four of her moons- Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa. We then saw the Orion nebula. Our heads spun with the realization that we were seeing, close up, the cloud that was birthing new stars!

Jupiter and her Moons

We returned to school to the warmth of fresh bread and delicious soup. Though we have many fussy eaters, our soup bowls were empty, with every scrap of vegetable consumed!

Bellies full, we went on a night walk on little cats feet.  We played for a while and enjoyed the falling night. We noticed that Orion had risen further!

It started getting chilly and time to get indoors. The next thing came as a real surprise to us adults, all the children started working!!!

Looking at a star map

One child said as he was leaving, “Today, has been the best day, ever!”




3 tablespoons butter

4 – 5 small onions, thinly sliced into semi-circles

5 – 6 cloves of garlic, sliced

4 red, ‘Delhi’ carrots – cut into sticks

4 potatoes, cut into chunks

3 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks

2 packets button mushrooms, sliced

2 chicken stock cubes

3 tablespoons tomato puree

cheese to serve – grated


Heat the butter on a low flame

Toss in the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes.

Add the potatoes and coat with butter.

Add the rest of the veggies.

Cover all the veggies with water.

Dissolve the stock cubes in a cup of warm water and pour into the pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook till all the veggies are tender.



We’ve recently started woodworking with the elementary children.

A friend of the school has helped us set up the area and volunteered to work with the children. Many of the tools we have acquired are vintage and difficult to find and in great working condition!

We’ve already made bamboo quills and bamboo pencil holders and have moved on to working with soft, solid wood.

Our projects are getting more ambitious. One child is making a bus, another a small chowki (low wooden table) and several are making small bookcases.

In this short time the children have learnt that wood working requires patience, perseverance and concentration …. like one little girl said, “Woodworking is so much like sewing”!

We still have some tweaking to do with regard to group size and duration of the session but for now things are going well.

Exercises of practical life at all ages … makes my montessori heart sing!

measuring and sanding
i’m making a bus!