Practical Life

Often times, young or new children are attracted to the Practical Life area.  These materials build order, concentration, coordination, independence, responsibility and self-control. Children have a natural desire to prepare their own food, pour their own milk, put on their coat or tie their shoes and the materials in Practical Life help them learn to be independent in those tasks.  The ability to control one’s body along with the discovery of how to move purposefully around the room, often carrying things that must not be dropped, is an important aspect of Montessori education.

Fine Motor Skills:  These are activities where the child uses the three-finger grip which helps prepare the hand for writing.

  • Tweezing, tonging, basting
  • Pouring rice or water from small pitchers
  • Spooning beans, rice from bowls
  • Art activities (cutting, drawing, painting, pasting)
  • Sewing and/or embroidery

Care of the Environment:

  • Polishing a table, metal object, shoes, etc.
  • Washing a table, windows, dishes or cloth items
  • Carrying a chair
  • Folding towels, dusting, sweeping, and mopping
  • Care of outdoor environment (raking, bird feeder)
  • Care of plants or pets
  • Mopping

Care of the Person/Social Development:

  • Opening and closing a door politely
  • Dressing frames (zippers, snaps, button, bows)
  • Hand washing
  • Cutting food items and/or food preparation

All of these activities, or works, have specific steps that the child needs to follow.  After completing this sequence of steps, the child’s independence, sense of order, concentration, and coordination is strengthened. Children do not complete these tasks quickly or with little effort as an adult would; rather they do them for the process of repetition and mastery of the skills.
The 3-6 year old child is in many sensitive periods for learning and the Practical Life materials enhance the natural development as follows:

Sense of Order: All of the Practical Life works have a beginning, middle and end, all are child sized, and all are color coded to help with properly putting the materials away.
Need for Movement: All of the work available involves purposeful movement.
Refinement of senses: The materials are all multi-sensory which furthers comprehension.
Social behavior: Grace and Courtesy lessons are a part of Practical Life.
Language: Children’s vocabulary grows as teachers name each of the materials while introducing the work.

The materials in Practical Life change during the seasons and have many levels of work, so students of any age can use them for refinement and mastery.  Children learn skills in an atmosphere of kindness, community and respect.  Practical Life is the foundation for life and all other areas of the Children’s House classroom.