holding them capable - practical life skills in Kindergarten

I posted about the 4C building blocks for my kindergarten classroom.  I will have to change that to 5 Cs. 

As well as designing a classroom around curiosity, confidence, creativity and compassion, I also hold the children capable.  

Maria Montessori said:  Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.

Ann Landers:  It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings. 

Dear Abby: If you want your child to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsiblity on their shoulders. 

Ms. Sandi:  Step away from the shoes. (to Mum and Dad - said kindly)

it's not my classroom

It belongs to the kids.  

My job is to keep it safe and engaging.

Since it's the kids' room, they have a lot of  responsibility for "housekeeping" duties.  

After they eat, the kids' "squirt and wipe" their spots at the tables.

Last year we made our own spray cleaner with vinegar, Christmas orange peels from their lunches and cinnamon sticks.  The kids loved contributing their peels, it encouraged them to eat vitamin C rich foods in the winter, and made cleaning even more fun. 

On Fridays, we have "fine dining Fridays"; we use plates, cloth napkins and napkin rings, and when the kids are inspired, table centrepieces make our tables beautiful. 

Dirty napkins need to be washed, dried, folded and put away. 

The kids hang the damp napkins to dry on a drying rack in our classroom.

Or outside on the chain link fence when the weather co-operates.

The dry napkins need to be sorted and folded. 

The kids like the drying rack so much that I found  a bunch of gloves from when they were selling them 2 pairs for a dollar and I bought a variety of children's socks from thrift shops.  I often find the clothes hanging in patterns on the drying rack.

On our one snowy day this winter, one kindergarten lad decided that the area in front of our classroom door had not been shovelled to his satisfaction.  I had a shovel by the door (to put snow into our water table), and he went to work. The grin on his face when he had finished was amazing.

Capable?  Absolutely.  



  1. What a brilliant reminder! Unfortunately I fail this advice often. Thanks for holding me accountable. Appreciate the quotes you had at the start...oh so true.
    With thanks
    Julie :-)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage

    1. Oh so do I! I am doing something for the class (NOT dealing with shoes, coats or backpacks - trained myself out of that!), and then one of the kids will take over. And I wonder why, after 25 years of teaching, I have not got that figured out yet. Even though I preach from the rooftops that kids are capable. Oh well, always learning ...


  2. Absolutely capable!!

    Very good post!! I´m a spanish teacher and I agree totally with you. Making them feel capable and with selfesteem is one of my more important targets.

    Congrats from Spain!! Y loved your words!!

    1. When kids have confidence and feel capable, they can take on the world.


  3. Fine Dining Fridays!?! Where do you get these awesome ideas? I love that!

    1. The kids love Fine Dining Fridays. Go figure!

      When the kids were younger, for a few years I would put out a table cloth and cloth napkins for dinner on Sunday night. I wanted the kids to know how to eat in a restaurant that did not only serve finger food. I was thinking about that one night, and thinking that my students might not have the opportunity to use cloth napkins a lot, and that it would be a fun learning/community building thing to do at school.

      Cloth napkins are pretty cheap at thrift stores - and I was given some by some parents. I probably have enough napkins at school for a sit down meal for 50!


  4. This year I'm trying having a snack station for when the kids get hungry rather than a specific snack time, but, in years past, we usually had a candle at each table and flowers. We'd turn off the lights and eat by candlelight. Then the "Top Banana" uses a brass snuffer to snuff the candles out and put them away. I can't wait to use cloth napkins!

    We have many, many snow days and the favourite activity for K-6 is to use a shovel and shovel the area in front of the house. It's always the kids that have trouble focusing or sitting still and the 'heavy work' really calms them.

    Love your blog - I look forward to each of your posts!
    Michelle @togolightly


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