Sponging is one of the first basic lessons a child learns in an Early Childhood Montessori classroom.
Sponging Learning Aims
The child develops visual discrimination and fine motor skills. He also works on focus and concentration. Completing a “work cycle” (i.e., from taking the tray from the shelf to putting the work back onto the shelf once finished) is a goal at this stage too.
Early science concepts, such as absorption, are introduced while the child works with sponging water.
Tips for the Montessori Guide
- Move slowly and intentionally when introducing the work to the child
- Offer the child an opportunity to feel the dry and wet objects (e.g. the sponge)
- Introduce new language such as the word “absorb,” which for your information is defined as “to take in or soak up (energy, or a liquid or other substance) by chemical or physical action, typically gradually,” empty, full, dry, and wet.
- Ask the child what other objects are “wet” or “dry” or, for an older child, what might “absorb” something (“the ground absorbs water”).
The Montessori Sponging Lesson
- Take the tray from the shelf & slowly carry it to the table.
- Identify the two bowls. “This bowl is empty. This bowl has water in it.”
- Identify the sponge. “This is a sponge. It is dry. Would you like to feel it?”
- Gently place the sponge in the water & remove hands.
- Observe the sponge filling with water. Lift the sponge with two hands and let the water drip off into the same dish; let the child feel the heaviness of the sponge. DON’T WRING THE SPONGE.
- Repeat, moving water back to the original dish.
- Replace the sponge in the dish.
- Wipe up any spills.
- Invite the child to do the exercise.
- A tray
- A table mat
- A small sponge that clearly “pops up” when water begins to absorb into it
- Two identical small bowls
- Water to fill one bowl
This activity is easy to bring into the home. A natural exercise in the kitchen or in the bathtub. The children won’t even realize they are learning as they’re working and playing with the water and sponge.
In addition, the exercise introduces early science concepts such as absorption.