Friday, August 13, 2010

:: pestle and mortar ::

I recently went to visit  "The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children" Reggio Emilia exhibit held at Chicago's Columbia College.

I get weepy every time I think about not being able to take photographs.
Of the hundreds of ideas inspired by the exhibit the one I am focusing on in this blog post is the use of a pestle and mortar. What a wonderful and authentic tool for the children to be able to crush, grind and mix solid substances. I think about the physicality involved, the science, the aromas released and I know this is a great learning experience.

In addition to the official display, I was inspired by the mock setup of a classroom designed by my former colleague, Kristin Brizzolara.

On a table there were dozens of medium sized clear plastic containers with dividers that held all sorts of "beautiful stuff" of the natural sort. Seeds, rocks, shells, flowers, leaves, feathers and other items of that nature were organized in a way that was visually stunning and impossibly attractive. It was hard not to touch!

Happily I remembered that Marshall's had mortar and pestles the last time I visited so I went back and purchased two. Then off I went with my little basket out into the prairie to gather my own natural materials.

I dug some bowls out of the resource closet and arranged the items inside on my little science table.

I added the mortar and pestle.

Another view of the science area:

I know the kids are going to love this!

The end!


  1. I knew someone would find a use for those bowls when I insisted on saving them! You have redeemed me and my pack-rat-edness.

  2. Isn't it funny how simple tools like this can excite us as teachers? I just finished setting up a temporary outdoor "mud kitchen" for the kids to horse around with next week. I'm going to add a couple mortars and pestles to the mix. I wonder if I can find some at Goodwill??? I think we have Marshall's around here. Arg! I didn't want to spend my sunny weekend on errands -- curse you Erin! =)

  3. I think it would be a lucky day to find one at Goodwill. Maybe you can 'want' one from Freecycle? The ones I got from Marshall's were $9.99


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