Yannis is doing important work when he gets up on his stool to use the kitchen sink. Whether he washes a bowl or washes his hands, he’s developing practical skills that will serve him his whole life. Work like this is called practical life activities in the Montessori method. These Montessori practical life activities are an integral part of practicing Montessori. If you’re looking for ways to teach practical life, here are 3 easy activities to get started with:
How to Clean Up a Spill
Kids spill and make messes when they eat. It’s part of the process of developing fine motor skills. One very practical way to deal with this is to teach kids how to clean up on their own. To teach your child this lesson, set up a tray with a cloth, a spray bottle, and a small cup of water. Invite your child to the activity. Spill a bit of water on the table. Explain that now, you’re going to clean it up. Spray using the spray bottle once or twice on the water (to simulate for if the spill was something sticky or messier). Then, demonstrate using the cloth. Now, invite your child to try it.
You can keep cleaning supplies for your child in a corner of your kitchen or elsewhere in your home. Show your child where to keep the supplies. Then, remind your child that any time a spill happens, they can gather the supplies and clean up!
Fine motor control for independent eating is hard work! Your child can develop their skills by practicing with dry beans, rice, and other grains. All you need is a tray, some pretty bowls, and a spoon. On the tray, place two bowls. The bowl on the left should be full of grain. The bowl on the right is empty. The spoon should be on the tray. Demonstrate for your child how to move beans from the bowl on the left to the bowl on the right, using the spoon. Invite your child to try! You can keep this activity interesting by changing the bowls, grain, and spoon.
Pouring with a Pitcher
For this activity, you’ll need a tray, a small pitcher your child can easily lift, and a glass. Use real dishes! Your child will learn to be very careful with them. Put enough water in the pitcher to fill the glass. Then, demonstrate to your child how to carefully pour water from the pitcher into the glass, until the glass is full. Then, invite your child to try. Have a cloth handy to wipe up any spills.
*Some parents/teachers dye the water with food coloring so that it’s easier for children to see how full the glass is. But, plain water is also fine.
With these activities, your child will increase their confidence, improve their fine motor skills and learn practical skills that will help them every day!
Do you do practical life activities at home? Which are your favorites? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.