Every morning in MA at around 10:30 the children who are outside come back inside, we all wash our hands and we prepare the fruit which the children have brought with them. One or two of the children will bring the basket of fruit from the entrance, where it is placed in the morning, to the tables. We set up two big tables with one educator on each table and cut the fruit onto a large board in the middle of the table. The children each go to get an individual white plastic board and they have a choice whether they’d like to also take a children’s knife, or a fruit cutter to the table with them which they can use to further cut the fruit if they’d like to. We’ll also give them the option, with things like tangerines, to peel the fruit themselves. When they’ve had enough they know then to push their chairs back under the table, take their plastic board firstly to the organic waste bin where they throw the peelings and cores of the fruit into the bin and then to a prepared white box where they can drop the board ready to be washed. They then go to wash their hands again.
When they’ve all finished their fruit we encourage whoever is keen to help us clean the table, we have a set of natural cleaning spray and a cloth ready for them and us, for this purpose. They can also help us to sweep the debris from the floor with their own small broom and dustpan and brush set.
Washing their hands before and after we eat helps them to understand the importance of hygiene, it becomes integrated in them and is also another task which they can perform on their own. Lots of aspects of this moment help them to be more independent; bringing the basket of fruit to the tables, going to get a plastic board and any utensils they may need, later dropping the rubbish onto the bin and leaving the board in the box as well as making sure they leave the table as they found it. This is all good practice at daily practical life skills which make them more autonomous and gives them the feeling of importance. There are children who take great pleasure in being able to help us clean the table and floor. Holding, peeling and cutting the fruit using their utensils everyday, which are at an appropriate size for their small hands, is also a great way for them to perfect fine motor skills and coordination.
Taking this break every day to eat fruit covers some of the children’s basic nutritional needs. In its every day presence, they see that fruit is an important part of our diet. The nice thing about fruit with all its varieties is that it reflects the time of year, the children can see through this item the changes of the seasons. We’ll see a lot of apples, persimmon, tangerines, and pears throughout the autumn and winter then we’ll start to see strawberries coming into spring and melon, watermelon and cherries in the summer. It’s a chance to physically connect with the food as it can be eaten with our hands and it creates a sensory experience for the children. We see how basic their instinct is to nourish themselves as, without hesitation, they reach into the middle of the table take a piece of fruit and put it into their mouths.
We try to make the most of these fruit breaks, it’s a time we can use to divide up the morning, bringing down the energy level and trying to differentiate the activities before and after the fruit break. More importantly It’s a moment of togetherness between the group and the educators. We won’t rush this time and we make sure there’s an adult sitting down at each table with them at all times as an example for the children. We’ll use it to connect with each other and chat. We’ll try to create a sense of family between us, asking the children questions to encourage communication skills and bonds. We notice the children take this time to interact between themselves, laughing and joking with each other. It’s a lovely part of our day bringing us all together for a shared experience.
It’s always a process from the start of the year implementing any of the daily routines. With the fruit time we’ve tried to keep consistent in the process so that in little time the children firstly, know when this will happen and secondly, know their role and learn the routine. We also have to keep very consistent in our roles as educators so that the children feel secure and comfortable in this moment. As with any new task or routine the beginning can be chaotic, but it’s been amazing to see the ease and speed in which the children adapt to these habits. Seeing the fluidity of how this moment unfolds is a very rewarding both for us and the children.