14 April 2011


One very important aspect of Montessori education and activities is the idea that when children do a task they do it from beginning to end. A child chooses an activity, collects the materials, does it, cleans up any spills or mess, and then returns the materials to their place. It is also possible for a child just to clean for the sake of cleaning, whether because something is dirty or to practice their scrubbing skills or play with water or enjoy the clean scent ...

Part of my dilemma is to figure out how to make this work within the confines of our situation. We do not have a sink in our room, and we have to set up and take down everything we use every time we meet. 

I have not been willing to introduce painting in Junior Church. I’m not yet up for collecting a bunch of smocks and the wherewithall to clean paint brushes, let alone the materials for cleaning spills and mistakes. And I do not have any polish in my room. Godly Play books encourage the idea of metal polishing as an activity, even going so far as to recommend the use of some “cheap” metal objects which will tarnish easily and need regular cleaning. But so far I've been unable to find any metal polish which isn't labelled Keep out of the reach of children.

When we started in February we had just a bottle of all-purpose spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels (kitchen roll), along with the waste basket and broom/dust-pan which were already in the room. The spray cleaner I bought, Helea, has several advantages and a couple of disadvantages:

  • environmentally friendly
  • locally produced (in Finland)
  • kind to the skin
  • smells nice (orange & rosemary)

  • an adult-sized bottle
  • limited control of error

See - I’m learning Montessori lingo! As I understand it, control of error means that a person should be able to tell whether or not they’ve done something right, without a teacher telling them. The problem with our cleaner is that it’s not colored at all, and sprays a wonderfully fine spray – which means that it’s very hard to see on a table or the floor once you’ve sprayed it. (And our children are still learning how to aim a spray bottle and squirt it.) I was a little tempted to switch to Tolu, which foams as it sprays so is easier to see. But that spray mechanism is significantly larger even than the one on our Helea bottle.

I’ve solved the bottle weight problem by getting a smaller, recycled spray bottle from a mother (thank you!), and pouring half the cleaner into that. So now we have two bottles, both of which are lighter. There's so much more to tell, but this post is getting pretty long already. Possible future topics include the lessons I've given about spray cleaning, the other things I've added to our cleaning basket, the problems which remain, and the cleaning victory that one child and I had this week. But for now I'll just sign off for now with a photo:


  1. Metal polish stuff is lethal ... so I wouldn't recommend using it especially with small kids :(- I don't even polish at home!!!

  2. Keep up the good work with the care of the environment. It is worth the trouble! Our children love metal polishing - we use this polish which works fine: http://www.montessoriservices.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=4423_116_131_1571
    I don't know if you could find it locally?


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