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  • West Suburban Montessori

Practical Life and Pickles

The primary-level Montessori curriculum includes four main areas: practical life, sensorial, math, and language. Practical life includes activities that guide the child towards mastery of caring for himself, others, and his environment. The practical life curriculum includes a wide variety of activities such as using dressing frames to practice fastening buttons, zippers, and ties; washing tables and floors; and setting and clearing the tables for lunch.

At WSMS, food preparation is a favorite activity for even the youngest children. Each morning, children prepare a healthy and delicious snack for their classmates to enjoy when if they begin to feel hungry during the work period. The morning snack typically includes apple or banana slices, cheese, crackers, and a special treat prepared by the older children during the afternoon work period the previous day.

Recently, Mrs. Murray's children learned to prepare refrigerator pickles. This is a project that you can easily replicate at home. For younger children, you will need to gather the ingredients and pre-measure them. Older children can help you with this step. You'll find the full recipe and Ms. Carolyn's full lesson below.

The most important thing is to have faith in your child's ability to be successful. It's easy, as a parent, to take over. We're used to rushing to try to get a meal on the table in between all of the other important stuff we have to do. For your three to six year old child, the process is what is most important. Trust that they will gain what they need from the project, and try not to micromanage their techniques. When it's time to taste the pickles tomorrow, it's okay to be a little grossed out by how much the ingredients were handled. We're only human! As one of our primary guides recently wrote, "It's okay to say maybe we don't want to eat that food that you just played with for an hour. It's about the process, not the product, at first."

What foods do you remember preparing with your parents when you were young? Do you have special recipes that you prepare with your child today? Let us know in the comments!

Refrigerator Pickles


Jar w/lid

Measuring Cup


Cutting Board



Vegetable Peeler


1 ½ Cups Water

3 Tbsp White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbsp Salt

1 tsp Peppercorns

1 Cucumber

3 Cloves of Garlic

  1. Clean the jars with hot water and dry them well.

  2. In your measuring cup combine water, vinegar, salt, and peppercorns to make the brine. Stir until the salt has dissolved and then set aside.

  3. Peel the garlic and slice each clove into 3-4 pieces and set aside.

  4. Remove as much peel as desired from the cucumber. Slice the cucumber into approximately ⅛ inch slices. This does not need to be pretty, size and shape of the slices will not affect the taste.

  5. Begin filling the jar with slices of cucumber, stopping occasionally to add pieces of garlic in between.

  6. When the jar is full, slowly pour the brine over the pickles until the pickles are completely submerged in brine.

  7. Place the lid on tightly and write the date on the lid.

  8. Place in your refrigerator and wait at least 24 hours before trying them. For best results I like to leave them for two days. These should be enjoyed within one week of making them.

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