Practical life activities are an essential of any Montessori environment. These types of activities prepare the child for independence, build confidence, and have a wealth of benefits for a child’s cognitive and emotional development. Practical life activities can be presented in a variety of engaging ways that will draw the child! Let’s explore some autumnal practical life ideas!
Montessori Practical Life: Quick Tips
Before we discuss actual practical life activities, I would like to remind you of a few things when it comes to setting up any Montessori space.
- Remember to keep the work culturally relevant. Include materials that are relevant to your culture, country, and society. Children need to be able to connect with their environment. This Instagram post from HOKA member Kiran is a stunning example of a grammar lesson with culturally relevant objects for this family.
- The work should be complete on the tray. The child should not need help to assemble the activity.
- The work should be aesthetically pleasing. Beauty is an important part of any Montessori environment.
Bonus tip: if you are at home, you do not need to put every practical life activity on a tray. Instead, incorporating practical life into your daily routine will have much more value for your child.
A folding work doesn’t need to go on the shelves if you provide opportunity for your child to participate in folding clothing after they have finished drying.
I personally, do not put food preparation work on my shelves. My children can help me cook and bake in the kitchen. We will gather materials together, but I will not bother putting them on a tray and presenting them in our learning space. That is too much work for this exhausted Mama.
If you can incorporate it into your daily routine, there is no need to put it on a tray. Don’t make things more complicated for yourself than you need to (or because Instagram has some gorgeous photos of it).
“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”Maria Montessori
Now, let’s discuss those Practical Life Activities!
Transferring is a typical work that you would see on the shelves of any Montessori school. Transferring activities consist of moving objects from one bowl/container to another. This can involve using the full-hand grasp, the pincer grasp, or a tool of some sort. The possibilities are nearly endless!
Here, you can see that I have presented two identical bowls, tongs, and a little bit of leaf table scatter. The child should use the tongs to transfer the leaves from the bowl on the left to the bowl on the right.
More ideas for fillers:
- dried pasta
- large beads
- nature objects
Pouring work is also very versatile. You can present a dry pouring work (ie- rice, lentils, etc) or a wet pouring work (ie- water). There are so many variations of these activities!
One Cup To Another
A child can pour from one cup to another. Both cups are identical in size. Also, you can see that the cup on the left is not super full. To go with our autumn theme, the filler consists of orange lentils.
Pitcher To Cup
For a more advanced child, you can present the work: pouring from a pitcher to a cup. First, you would present one pitcher and one cup. When the child has mastered this skill, you can provide more than one cup (as is pictured below).
Quick tip: Be sure not to overfill the pitcher. When you are preparing the material, use the cup to measure how much filler to add.
Also, you can add a fill line o the cups. You can do this by adding a small piece of tape or drawing a line with a permanent marker. This line would indicate how far the child should pour. Eventually, you can provide this work without the fill lines once the child has learned how much to pour.
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”Maria Montessori
Threading is such a phenomenal fine motor and preliminary sewing work! This will develop concentration, and such work will strengthen those hand-muscles in preparation for writing!
Here, you can see an example of a threading work that I presented to my daughter at 3.5 years old. The small box contains lace. The leaves are made of foam. The child should thread the lace through the leaf.
Picking up small objects, such as lace or small beads, requires great concentration and use of the pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is the use of the thumb and index finger to pick up objects. Mastering the pincer grasp is absolutely essential in order to be able to hold a writing tool properly, and in turn, in order to be able to write.
More Sewing/Threading Ideas
- Pasta and shoe lace
- Beads and string
- Pony beads and pipe cleaner
Using a pipette is another fun way to enjoy water play and strengthen – you guessed it – the hand.
For younger children and toddlers, you can use a larger pipette or a turkey baster so that they can use the whole-hand grasp. An older child can squeeze the smaller sized pipette, but this can be a challenge for younger children who have less strong fingers and a harder time coordinating their movements.
Here, red water is being transferred from a cup to a bowl using a pipette. You can also use two identical cups (or two identical bowls), instead. Using different containers adds another level of difficulty because the child must pay attention when transferring, and will notice the differences between the depth of the bowls or cups.
These are autumn leaf scissor strips. You can use them for a variety of activities!
Snipping with scissors
When a child is first learning to use scissors properly, they can first learn to “snip” in short, straight lines. This material is great for practicing snipping along a line.
The child can cut neatly along the dashed line. Also, be sure to present an empty bowl on the tray for placing the cut pieces.
Quick tip: I save the cut pieces for a gluing or patterning work the next day!
This is an example of a prepared gluing work. It is fairly advanced and would require a lot of concentration.
On the tray, I have:
- Leaf table scatter
- Empty bowl (I will add glue here so it does not dry out)
- Paint brush
- Leaf scissor strips printable
The child should use the paint brush to place some glue on the line. Next, they can add some leaves onto the line. This is a very difficult task that will require quite a great deal of concentration!
Alternatively, you can have your child cut along the dashed line. Or even form the lines in sand! There are many possibilities!