Fourteen students from Dover Montessori Country Day Academy took learning outside of the classroom during a visit to Dairy Queen on Bay Road in Milford on Aug. 9.
The students, ages three to five, experienced the work environment and steps taken to prepare lunch and dessert items for customers.
"Because everything is hands-on with Montessori, that's why we like to do activities like this," said Dover Montessori Country Day Academy Owner Margaret Kling. "Learning is experiential. In our environment the kids learn by experiencing, touching and feeling. Everything is sensorial."
The students were given a tour of the kitchen by Dairy Queen Owner Eugene Mills, who pointed out the various work stations and storage areas, as well as food preparation steps and equipment. At the end of the tour, the children were given an opportunity to choose from a variety of ice cream toppings, which they then poured on their own, over a bucket to avoid too much mess.
The trip also coincides with the students' science lessons about liquids and solids, Kling said. It also offered life lessons on how to work as a group and within varying social environments.
"It's not only physical, but it's contributing. We teach them social things that help them with group and work interaction," Kling said. "They have to grow up as social beings and we try to encourage children at an early age to be autonomous."
The reward of ice cream at the end of the trip rewarded the children for their good behavior and taught that hard work truly does pay off.
"It's really fun for them and we admonish it by saying that's their work," Kling said. "Whatever they do in the environment is considered valuable and worthwhile."