I prepared a wood polishing tray and placed it on the shelf in the back room a few months ago. I have been waiting for just the right moment to present it to a particular senior. This senior has done silver polishing and flower arranging, so I thought this would be the next work for her. I finally presented it today. But, I did not present it to the senior who I initially thought it would be perfect for, yet that doesn't mean I won't present it to her later. Instead, I invited the male client that recently worked with the Chinese Puzzle (my hybrid version of the constructive triangles) to do some work with me. However, this time I asked him to pick which work he wanted to use from the shelves completely independent of my suggestions. This was a goal my supervisor and I had discussed for this particular client.
We walked to the "Montessori" shelves in the backroom and I reviewed with him what each work was. He was drawn to the singular / plural work that he has done several times before and chose that. He did the work perfectly. He laid out the labels and then matched the objects to the labels. Before we knew it, he had completed the material. I asked him to carefully put away all of the objects/labels and to return the box to the shelf. He did.
Next, I asked if he was interested in doing a new work. I said I had put together a tray that might be appealing to him. He said he wanted to continue working with me and so we did. I invited him to come to the shelves with me to get the tray, the needed supplies and an apron. We brought everything back to the table that we had been working at and I placed a red, paper place mat in front of him to designate a working space.
After I helped him put on the apron, I asked him to remove the items from the tray and place them on the place mat. Next, I asked him to take some polishing cloths, cotton balls and q-tips from the containers holding them and to place them in various objects from the tray. Then, I poured some of the wood polish into a porcelain dish for him to use.
There were two wooden objects that I had recently purchased from the thrift store and made available for him to polish. When he saw the first he said, "I think that is a gazelle. Gazelles are from Africa." This statement immediately brought both vocabulary and geography to this practical life work. It was wonderful to hear his words.
He carefully used a q-tip to apply wood polish to the narrow areas of the wooden gazelle. Next he used a cotton ball to apply polish to the entire figure.
Lastly, he used a cloth to polish the wood.
He commented, "The wood is much darker and it looks more like a real gazelle now." I smiled at him and simply agreed.
I carefully removed the gazelle from the paper place mat and moved it towards the back of the table. I then showed him the small, wooden cat. "I think that is a Siamese cat. I never had a cat. But my friend had a cat that they called JD." He had just distinguished a particular type of cat from just any cat and given the name of that type of cat. Next, he associated the cat to a personal memory. He used the materials in the same order as he had with the gazelle. He was careful with his movements and was very focused on the work that he was doing.
When he finished polishing the cat, he admired his work and then said he was done. He is very direct about when he feels he has completed something and wants to move on. Exercises were going on in the other room and someone had called out his name asking if he were going to come and join them. Exercises are good for him and so off he went. I said I would make sure that all of the materials were returned to the shelf and did so.
I have one last thing to write about today and that is that there is a growing curiosity from other seniors about the Montessori materials on the shelves. Today, for the second time, a senior who has not used any of the practical life materials, asked to look at the boxes and to see what was inside them. She commented on how beautiful all of the objects were. She especially liked the little pitcher I had put on the leaf washing tray. I feel a momentum growing for all of the Montessori materials that is independent of me. The seniors are starting to ask, "What's that and how do you use it? May I use it too?"