Housekeeping Skill School, Day Three: 🍽️HEY, DIDDLE DIDDLE DISHES🥄 and don’t you run off with that spoon!

“As a parent, you may discover that you feel a new ‘lightness’ as you go about necessary household duties and that the time spent is far more interesting and rewarding than before. You are no longer a servant; you are an educator.

Paula Polk Lillard & Lynn Lillard Jessen, Montessori from the Start

Welcome! Thanks so much for tuning in! If you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed of Housekeeping Week thus far:


Among the countless things I desire for our children, I hope and pray that they will have their hands on dishes each and every day of their lives. I realize this may seem an odd sort of wish. No, I don’t have some strange obsession with porcelain plates or ceramic bowls. In fact, it doesn’t matter to me if the dishes they have their hands on are porcelain, pewter, glass, or bamboo (although I prefer them not to be plastic or paper but we’ll get to that another day 😛 ), it just matters to me that our kids handle them —a lot.

My reasons for this strange parenting prayer of mine are many and somewhat abstract . . . but if you, dear reader, will permit me a few minutes of your time, I will try and express why I bother making wishes on dishes.

Handling dishes signifies having your hands on some of the very best aspects of life:

sit-down family meals . . .

real food (we don’t often serve a bar or pouch on a plate, do we?) . . .

feasts with friends . . .

a meal delivered to a family in need . . .

whipping up “something just like mama used to make” . . .

practicing grace, courtesy, and table manners . . .

delicious dinnertime conversation . . .

being home for the holidays . . .

And beyond being merely dished these wonderful experiences on a silver platter, I believe by handling plates and bowls and silverware that our children will be learning to serve up these delectable gifts of human life to others as well.

“It’s so beautifully arranged—you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”

Julia Child

In our modern society of privilege and entitlement—where our children grow up expecting to be served—I desire for our children to learn to cook, and serve, and clear a table. I desire for them to wash the dishes. After all, is there a better human ritual for cultivating a heart of service than to set a table, serve a beautiful meal on it, and then clear it away afterwards? Is there a better way to show generosity, honor, and even love than to invite someone to sit at your table and then proceed to nourish them?

They may just be in fact round disks of fired clay, but dishes hold far more; for dishes are what they serve.

Dishes are vessels of provision and plenty;

sustaining life, hope, and security.

Dishes are couriers of generosity, service, and hospitality;

facilitating family and friendship . . .

serving up celebration and thanksgiving.

Dishes are a canvas for creativity and artistic expression;

preserving culture, heritage, tradition . . .

laden with and labored over in love.

Housekeeping Week, Day Three: HEY, DIDDLE DIDDLE DISHES

and don’t you run off with that spoon!

Hey, diddle, diddle,

I wash while I riddle,

sing along with my little tune:


bowls and cups in the tub,

and don’t you run off with that spoon!



  • a collection of dishes (I like to use stainless steal with little kids)
  • a spoonful of flour (*optional)
  • two wash basins/buckets
  • dish soap
  • scrub brush/sponge/ wash cloth
  • aprons (*optional)
  • dish towels


1.) For first-time dish-washers, I like to practice with “clean-dirty” dishes. Washing truly dirty dishes may be too much or too gross for littles and/or newbies.

How we dirtied our dishes:

  • To make a “clean-dirty” dish solution, we combined a spoonful of white flour in about a cup and a half of water.
clean dishes and our flour/water soultion
  • Then we drizzled this solution over our clean dishes and let set about twenty minutes. Use more flour and leave to dry longer to make dishwashing more difficult, and use less flour and do not allow to dry for very easy dishwashing. For kids under the age of three, I recommend not making the dishes dirty at all but just letting them practice the steps of dishwashing on already clean dishes.
“clean-dirty” dishes drizzled in flour/water solution

2.) Set up a dishwashing area outside:

  • set up a table, tray, or laundry basket with dirty dishes, scrub brush/wash-rag/sponge on the left
  • fill one basin/bucket with water and a drizzle of dish soap to the right of the dirty dishes
  • fill another basin/bucket with pure water and place to the right of the soapy water basin
  • set up a drying station to the right of the wash station

3.) Direct your child to transfer dirty dishes to the wash basin and plunge them into the soapy water.

4.) Demonstrate how to wash a dish slowly and deliberately for your child. Allow her to repeat what you showed her and work with her as needed.

5.) Show your child how to rinse the dish by dipping it a few times into the rinse water.

6.) Next, demonstrate how to dry a clean dish with a towel and lay out or stack.

7.) Give your kid(s) plenty of time to play dish-washer.

Let’s try not to worry about how clean or dirty the dishes end up. Of course we want our children to gradually gain mastery of these housekeeping tasks. But we must remember: Skill School is a slow, immersive process. Let’s allow it to be relaxed and playful as well.

~Table Setting~


  • a plate, cup, knife, fork, spoon, napkin, and napkin ring (I like to use stainless steal dishes with little kids)
  • a place setting mat with “mapping” for kids under the age of five or six (“mapped” placemats can be ordered on Etsy, or you can draw one onto a paper place setting)


1.) Set out placemat on the table.

2.) Assemble the table settings above the placemat.

3.) For kids using a “mapped” placemat: allow them to set up the placemat without any help or direction just using the guides.

4.) For kids using a standard placemat: demonstrate first where each item should be placed for a “proper” place setting:

  • plate in the center
  • cup on top and to the right of the plate (about 2 o’clock)
  • fork directly to the left of the plate
  • napkin in ring to the left of the fork, or directly on the plate as to the design of the place setting
  • knife directly to the right of the plate
  • spoon to the right of the knife

6.) Let your child play host or hostess to heart’s content!

Remember: setting a table prepares a child for far more than a mere meal.

She is setting the table for a lifetime of service and grace.

She is setting the table for connected family and devoted friendship.

She is setting the table for intention and thanksgiving.

Ultimately, she is setting the table for a legacy of love.


  • loading/unloading dishwasher
  • putting dishes away in the cupboard
  • putting utensils in the utensil organizer (great for toddlers, just have them wear safety goggles!)

Tune in next time for Day Four of Housekeeping Week: CENTER OF ATTENTION; Floral Arrangements!

Thanks ever so much for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

2 Replies to “Housekeeping Skill School, Day Three: 🍽️HEY, DIDDLE DIDDLE DISHES🥄 and don’t you run off with that spoon!”

  1. Love that remastered Hey Diddle Diddle tune! And also love that Julia Child quote. Loving hands preparing food and serving others- how lovely.

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