Montessori with Mother

How to have a drink at the pub – a Montessori guide to keeping a young child busy in the beer garden.

Picture this – it’s a warm sunny day and you are in a blissful beer garden with a glass of something cool and refreshing. You may be with your partner, family or friends, or just in need of a sit down for half an hour and a packet of crisps in the sunshine. Small child does not like to sit down and enjoy the peace and quiet.

You could sedate your child with the iPad once she’s made a cursory go of colouring in.

Or you can have a handy list of things to keep your child busy while you feel a smug glow.

If you can manage to get them to do all ten things, you might even get to finish your drink, eat your crisps and find out all the details of what your friend’s other-half did wrong last night.

Ten ways to amuse your young child at the pub.

  1. Camera! A phone is great, a kids camera is even better because you don’t panic they will faceplant with it on the rockery. Send them off to take photos around the garden. I like to do a challenge of interesting things (find an eggshell, a feather, a cobweb) or Guess What This Is (usually close ups taken of a nostril).

2. Nature cards – The single best thing I did since having a kid. Draw them, or print them, laminate and keep in your pocket or handbag for All Time. Give the children a pack of the cards, and ask them to find each item. Works well with the camera unless you want sticky hands thrusting worms in your face. (Pro tip – if you need longer, throw in a wild card or two, like a conker or a holly berry in the middle of summer.)

3. Treasure hunt. Hide ten items around the beer garden, and give them clues to find them. The vaguer the clue, the longer you get to sit undisturbed. Remember there are no prizes, the proud sense of completing a task is the best reward. As if. Bribe with a lemonade.

4. Make a nest. Using moss, twigs and grass who can make the best nest?

5. Colour wheel – Another piece of DIY that yields ten minutes of free time if you’re lucky. Cut a circle out of card, and divide into sections of different colours. The younger the child, the fewer hues and gradients. The challenge is to find items that match the colour.

6. Stones – ah stones. The blessing of the British beer garden. Make a road to drive a toy car along. Build a tower. Colour them with metallic pens. Make a letter and guess it. Toddlers like filling plastic bottles with them and pouring them out again (excellent for fine motor skills) Draw a picture on them and turn them over for them to find.

7. Flower shop. Only using fallen petals, make a flower shop by sorting them into sections with twigs or stones and serve your customers. Good for counting money, learning flower names and language skills.

8. Wild flowers. The hunt is on for daisies, buttercups and dandelions. Dry them between beer mats, make a chain, take them home to wash and place in a jar of oil for a rub you can discard surreptitiously when it goes mouldy.

9. Caterpillar hunt. Find the leaves with the tell tale signs of the hungry caterpillars. Take photos of leaves with holes, search for eggs, caterpillars. chrysalids and butterflies. Identify them with expensive apps or look them up in a book later if you remember.

10. Herbs – lots of beer gardens have herb planters which can provide seconds of fun for the young child. Sniff, taste and blind test the herbs, as long as you know they’re definitely herbs.

Game over. By now your child will be tugging at your arm singing ‘mummy mummy mummy’ and stealing your chips.

Interesting finds from the beer garden…

Ten things pub landlords don’t like:

  • Mud cakes
  • Making puddles
  • Drawing with pens or chalk on paths, walls or furniture
  • Picking flowers from flower beds, plants and trees
  • Eating all the herbs
  • Digging
  • Annoying customers by taking photos of them
  • Feeding animals
  • Filling glasses with stones and other mixed media art.
  • Leaving piles of moss, stones, sticks and flowers behind when you go.

Montessori Inspired Stories

The Fox

For more real world short stories, please check out my e-book on Amazon Natural World Meditation Stories for Children.

Relaxation Exercise

I want you to start by getting comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Take a big breath deep into your tummy and hold it for one, two, three. Let go and exhale, breathe all the way out. Hold for one, two, three.

Can you imagine what it is like to be a fox? Take another deep breath and feel your imagination take you into a deep, calm wood. Around you there is bird song, warm sunlight and a gentle breeze through the leaves.

You look down and see your paws and red-brown wiry hair. You feel your body is compact, strong and fast, built for speed. Your claws are sharp, black and hard. Can you feel the pads on your feet? They feel springy and tough but yet sensitive enough to feel the cool earth beneath and different vibrations.

You test your ears with interest, they can twitch and turn in all directions, and you realise how you can hear everything around you that you normally cannot. Amid the rustling of the leaves in the breeze you hear a rabbit digging its burrow, the distant tap tap of a woodpecker and the scurrying of a million insects busying along the woodland floor.

It is dawn, the sun is turning the fields gold and the shady woods are beginning to creep from black to grey to green.

Your sight is powerful and you can detect depth in shadows where creatures are hidden. You can see between branches and bushes, and can notice even the smallest movements.

Your nose is like a superpower, you can smell a million things you have never smelled before yet somehow you know what each smell is. You notice your own smell, a warm earthy dense fug of wild animal – a mix of dirt and blood and hair.

You know which smell indicates a water source, and which is food, which is for berries that taste good, and which is for poison. You can smell each of the creatures, each one has a distinct smell from the beetles to the birds to the mammals.

Your sharp eyes detect a flash in the long grass, a rabbit. It stops and stares at you, and you can smell a sudden sharp tang of fear coming from it. You feel your instinct rise up to chase but your stomach is full and you have no need to hunt. The rabbit thumps it’s back feet in warning to the others and quickly leaps and dives down into the warren.

You trot through the woods, the brush of your tail low behind you on the ground. and can smell all the different flowers and hear the worms underground. You stop to watch an adder zig zag through the ferns, and a mouse scampers away quickly

A hedgehog is snuffling through leaves, searching for insects. It sees you coming and curls up tightly into a prickly ball.

Now you are thirsty and can sense a stream trickling nearby. Smoothly sneaking through the undergrowth you stop by the edge of the stream, startling some small birds who are having a splash.

You drink deeply from the cool clear stream, lapping with your tongue. Fish dart away and a frog jumps onto a log and hides. Butterflies are fluttering around you and you start chasing one but it dances away higher and higher above you.

Now you hear a dog barking in the distance, and you flatten your body into the bracken. The hum of danger runs through your body, your hairs stand up. Tense and coiled, you listen, ready to spring & run.

There is Silence again, and detecting no more danger, you step back out from your place in the bracken and carry on exploring.

You hear the yip of foxes nearby and you know this is your family. The cubs run up to you nipping and nuzzling, you feel the urge to lick them, mark them as yours and keep them close and safe.

You know that tomorrow you will teach them how to hunt, how to tread silently, wait then pounce. But for now all of you are fed and ready to rest. You lead the cubs through a hole in the earth and down into your den below.

You feel the urge to circle in the den to make the earth soft and flat and finally curl up with your brush wrapped around you. The cubs clamber over you and finally hush, calmed by your warmth and your heart beat. You hear the woods erupt with more birdsong and the movement of the daytime creatures as they busy about their day. For you and your cubs it is time to sleep and recharge ready for the next day.

The den is warm and comfortable, you and the cubs are snuggled together like a cosy rust blanket, and you are safe and relaxed and ready to sleep.

For more real world short stories, please check out my e-book on Amazon Natural World Meditation Stories for Children.