Learning Through Play: Join Us for a Tea Party
This lesson is based on the Montessori learning theory. This approach emphasizes providing the students a prepared environment in which they can manipulate, explore and experiment on their own, repeatedly and thus gain knowledge and understanding.
Let’s Get Started:
Divide your class into 2 groups: Group 1, hosts; Group 2, guests.
Talk to your class about a tea party and what they know about it, what it involves, what is needed for a tea party, etc. Tell them that your class will host a tea party for each other and explain that each group will have an opportunity to be the guests and the hosts.
The idea for this lesson is to guide the children in preparation for the tea party and allow them to execute the plans on their own. You will need to create a checklist for the students to use; 1) either pictures with corresponding words or 2) words only, depending on age group.
Group 1 – The Hosts:
The following are the 5 areas of focus:
1. Behind scenes preparation.
4. On site clean up.
5. Behind the scenes clean up.
1. Behind the scenes preparation: Work with Group 1 to decide what they will serve at the tea party, how much of each item is needed, etc. Discuss items that they will need for the table, clean up, etc. Create a check list.
2. Presentation: Talk about who will set the table, serve the food and drink, provide refills (if they will be offered), what will be used in case of spills, etc. Create a check list.
3. Engaging: Part of any party is the host joining the guests for socialization. Review the expected rules for that time (no yelling, napkins on laps, sitting at the table, etc.) and when the hosts will join their guests.
4. On site clean up: Create a list of what needs to be removed from the guest’s table, where it will be taken, what will be done with each item and who will do each task.
5. Behind the scenes clean up: Who will put away unused foods and drinks, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, wipe the tables, return food, drink, plates, etc. to the proper places. Create a check list for this too.
The preparation stage is where the teacher will be interacting with the students the most. Creating the check lists to aid the students and cooperatively deciding roles for the tea party are keys that enable the students to carry out this party with little or no complications. However, if problems do arise these are wonderful learning opportunities for problem solving and planning evaluation. Once the discussions have occurred, jobs have been decided and lists have been created let the students take it from here.
The environment has been prepared and the students will learn by exploring what has been created and manipulating the items there. Allow them to pour the juice, serve the snack, clean up, etc. by themselves. Mistakes are to be expected, hold back from fixing mistakes or forseeing them. Let the students learn on their own unless a safety issues exists.
Group 2 – The Guests:
The students in this group will be learning valuable social skills. Discuss with them expected behaviors for the tea party. What is appropriate, inappropriate, manners, excusing oneself for the restroom, what to do if they spill, offering to help with clean up, etc.
If you’re new to this approach it may be tempting to step in but resist. Learning by doing is fundamental for students’ success.
Make sure that each group gets an opportunity to be the guest and the host.
Upon completion of this lesson, have the class as a whole, discuss what went well, what was challenging, what they’d do different next time, etc. As the year progresses repeat this activity with variations on theme (or keep as a weekly or bi-weekly tea party). This will provide repetition of the skills and they will easily be mastered. As skills are mastered add more to the ‘party’ check list to continue to build skills.
In preparation for this tea party have the class create invitations for their tea party. This can be a writing lesson, art lesson, etc; your creativity and imagination are the only limits. Pick a few books with a tea party setting, theme, etc. Reinforcement is key!
Have fun and let the kids create, explore and learn!