The Curriculum at the Casita
Practical life activities
Even the youngest want to help. They want to be with the adults and enthusiastically do the same things they see with mum or dad. In the prepared environment of the Casita, they have the opportunity to do this - not in a play kitchen, but in a real kitchen, which is adapted to their size and their possibilities. Here, for example, the children themselves bake bread every day or prepare pastries for the afternoon snack. But they also help fold the laundry, set the table for the group, wash their dishes after meals, water the plants in the area, grind nuts or grain...the list can go on endlessly. An important aspect is also the independent dressing and undressing. This takes a lot of time and accompaniment at first, but the child's self-esteem and independence increases with every "I did it on my own!".
Between 12 and 36 months, the child absorbs language like a sponge. He absorbs complicated words with the same ease as simple ones - that is why we give him the right and exact terms right away - e.g. "titmouse" instead of "bird" or even "birdie". In the prepared environment, there are many informal as well as formal opportunities to teach language. When baking bread, for example, all the necessary utensils - mixing bowl, mixing spoon, dough scraper, baking board, scales - as well as ingredients - flour, yeast, salt, water - are named. In small - formal - presentations, the children's interests are picked up and vocabulary is expanded by introducing, for example, the names of different birds, zoo animals, vehicles, insects and much more with concrete objects. Songs and finger plays as well as reading aloud picture books with realistic content complement the language offer.
Again and again Maria Montessori pointed out how important it is to let the body, the mind and the senses work together. In the prepared environment there are many activities to train fine motor skills, such as puzzles, threading and sticking games, cutting and gluing exercises. This promotes eye-hand coordination and the child also learns to use both hands at the same time. With these activities, he exercises his hand muscles and the grip of the tweezers - an indirect preparation for later writing. Last but not least, these activities help the child to concentrate for longer and longer periods of time. The child can engage in large motor activities both outside on the spacious, unstructured grounds and inside - e.g. scrubbing tables or cleaning windows.
Farewell to the nappy
As soon as the child can walk, it has developed the muscles that allow it to control the bladder and bowels. However, it still needs to practise these muscles - and the child has this opportunity at the casita. Routine is an important element in this process, and so the child is offered the toilet regularly in the daily routine. Through this routine, the child becomes increasingly aware of his or her needs and will gradually take the initiative to go to the toilet independently of the adult. This is another big step towards independence.