Pesto in Progress

It began with Miss Joya lovingly planting some basil plants over the summer with her children. She tended them regularly, a true testament to exactly how much time she spent in her classroom over the summer months. By the first week of school, they were just exploding.

Since our school mission includes sustainable agriculture and free play in nature, we thought it would be a great idea to involve the students in some way. Here is how it went:

A group of elementary students was chosen by a lottery system. We set out on a beautiful sunny morning with our baskets and bowls. While picking, we were discussing what happens when plants bolt, how they reseed, the impact of the Marmorated Stink Bug and why in its lifecycle (the nymph stage) it is pretty and orange, and problems with invasive insects. We also chatted happily about movies and fashion too!

Next we found ourselves in the kitchen removing all the unwanted leaves, stems, and bugs, including the Marmorated Stink Bug. That was Noah’s favorite part: bug collector!


Pine nuts were baked, garlic chopped, oil and cheese measured. This was an awesome exercise as we did not have enough one-cup measuring utensils, so there was a lively discussion on fractions and how could use the third-cup or fourth-cup measures. Everything was measured out to perfection…


Each child had a role, and they took turns doing each step. Pushing the buttons on the blender was popular! I never had to guide in this area; they followed the recipe and collaborated beautifully. This is a great example of the sense of justice that the second-plane child has. They truly worked it out among themselves.

The best part of all was tasting each batch. They assured me that this was an important step as we needed to ensure a quality product for our parents. Mmmmmm…


Finally: marketing. How do we make our product attractive to parents and get their attention?

So the question is, what did the children really accomplish today? I believe they accomplished a sense of valorization. This is a truly important concept in Montessori. It is so much more than the “good job” mentality that we can sometimes dish out. It is a powerful part of human development and builds strength from the inside out. They made a real contribution to their community today. Staff had pesto for lunch, parents purchased some for their families, and the children added to their classroom micro economy.  They love nothing more that to see the balance go up. It was real and meaningful work.

Thank you for supporting their efforts.