Practical Life Activities in Montessori Education

When given the right curriculum and opportunities children are able to develop at their maximum potential.
Every child has sensitive periods that factors in optimum holistic development. These distinct sensitive periods may not arise at the same time in children.
Parents and teachers should provide children with the right tools and curriculum for them to achieve well-rounded development.
The Montessori Curriculum comprises all the aspects of:

  • Cognitive Principles
  • Social Principles
  • Physical Principles
  • Psychological Principles
  • Emotional Principles
  • Physiological  principles

that provide the child with higher levels of academic, physical, practical, societal, emotional attainments.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that motor development and physical development play a significant role in early childhood education. 

Practical and motor activities play an important role in the education of the child. The Montessori curriculum involves a series of physical activities, exercises, and kinesthetics that help in the development of muscles, Gross motor skills, and improve muscle memory.

The Montessori curriculum lays heavy emphasis on imparting knowledge about practical life during early childhood as it is essential for the child’s cognitive and physical growth. The knowledge of practical life also develops the child’s natural interest in self-care and hygiene. 

The Montessori method of teaching incorporates Practical life activities in the curriculum, which helps the child indulge in routine activities that are involved in every aspect of life.

It is important to impart practical values and provide children with opportunities to participate in practical activities at a young age to help the child learn basic personal functions. 

What are Montessori Practical Life Activities? 

Montessori Practical activities are activities that young children are initially introduced to when the children start Montessori Primary Level.

The Montessori Practical Activities are Real-Life lessons that bring about a sense of order, self-reliance, and help the child balance as well as control body their movements.

These activities are a significant part of the Montessori curriculum, which helps young children adjust and interact with the new Primary Level environment.

Taking the sensitive periods into account the practical activities promote coordination, independence, and development of both fine motor skills as well as gross motor skills.

The Montessori Practical Life Activities rely on three key factors: 

  1. Purpose- gives direction to the child. The child should be familiarized with the concrete purpose of the activity
  2. Movement- is a self-imposed discipline that helps the child achieve greater perfection. The physical activities should lie within the child’s capacity 
  3. Intelligibility- helps with the development of human foundations that builds the child’s inner personality. The activities should be easy to understand that will help the child achieve desirable outcomes.
    These three factors strengthen, develop, and serve in helping the child develop from within. 

The Montessori Practical Life Activities are based on four groups that cover basic relations between the environment and the child: 

  1. Elementary Movements 
  2. Relationship with regards to the environment 
  3. Taking care of oneself
  4. Social life

Recognizing the importance and capabilities of the absorbent mind of a child during the first six years, the child will learn these activities from the adults in the environment.

The adults must re-learn the activities that will have to be carried out in front of the children.
The Montessori practical life activities are purposeful activities that carry out the child’s motor development, physical development, promote coordination, independence, concentration, and inculcate a sense of responsibility in the child towards themselves, their belongings, the surrounding environment as well as their actions. 

Read this to further learn about Montessori Practical Life Activities. 

Characteristics of Practical Life Activities:

The Montessori Practical Life Activities should offer the child real-life experiences along with a purpose to participate in the activities.
These activities contribute to facilitating education to that child that makes them active members of society.

 The characteristics of Montessori Practical Life Activities are: 

  • Reality: The activities should promote real-life activities that promote self-care, self-hygiene, and care for the environment. 
  • Limitless Learning: There are no rigid guidelines for conducting practical activities. The activities should not be limited. The activities can be customized according to the culture and environment of the country.
  • Individual Materials: The children should be provided with separate materials to help facilitate proper practical activities. 
  • Self-Contained: The Materials should be kept in designated shelves, cabinets, and baskets. Assigned places for materials and belongings create decorum as well as bring order and structure. 
  • Grouping: The activity Materials should be separated into different groups based on their purpose. Designated areas should be provided for conducting activities. 
  • Child-Sized: The Materials and Furniture in a Montessori Environment should be child-sized. 
  • Cultural: The Montessori Practical Life Activities should incorporate cultural aspects of the child’s environment. 
  • Functional: The Montessori Practical Life Activities should serve functionality. The children should also be provided with proper functional materials as well. 
  • Order: The Practical Life Activities should bring order and structure to a child’s environment.
    The activities will promote balance and structure in the child’s daily routine. The materials should also be kept in proper order from simple materials starting from the left side of the shelves to complex materials being kept on the right side of the shelves. 

Types of Practical Life Activities: 

Preliminary Activities (Activities for toddlers)

Preliminary activities are initial activities a child is introduced to children when they enter in primary level.

Preliminary Activities include:

  1. Work Mats:
    The child is initially introduced to work mat activities during 2.5 to 3 years of age. Work mats are used to teach children how to roll and unroll the mats, along with teaching the children how to move around their peer’s workspace. 
  2. Walking in a straight line:
    this activity is introduced to children between 2.5 to 3 years. With the help of this activity, the children learn how to take control of their gross motor skills and maintain their balance.
  3. Moving a chair:
    This activity is introduced to children from 2.5 to 3 years of age. Through this activity, the children are made aware of their surrounding furniture as well as learn how to manipulate and carry the furniture carefully and quietly.
  4. Opening and closing containers:
    This activity is initially introduced to children between 2.5 to 3 years of age. The activity promotes children to independently learn how to carefully open and close containers without assistance. This activity facilitates the development of fine motor skills.
  5. Using Spoons:
    The use of spoons and other utensils is an essential part of the child’s self-care. The Spooning activities of the Montessori method are introduced to children between 2.5 years to 3 years of age.
    Children learn how to manipulate, control, and develop the skills that are needed to properly use a spoon. The Montessori Spooning Activities also help the child develop fine motor skills.
  6. Grasping and Transferring Activities:
    This activity is introduced to children at 2.5 to 3 years of age. With the help of this activity, the child learns how to properly grasp handles and knobs as well as transfer the objects with the help of these knobs and handles.
    With grasping activities children develop fine motor skills as well as learn how to master the pincer grasp by transferring the objects bowl to bowl.
  7. Pouring and Transferring Activities:
    The Pouring and Transferring activities are introduced to children at 3 years of age. The Montessori Pouring activities help children learn how to pour liquids that will eliminate the need for adult assistance. This activity also helps the child develop fine motor skills and control.

Self-Care and Hygiene

It is absolutely essential to providing developing children with activities that promote self-care and hygiene. The children not only learn from these activities but also enjoy while they are doing the activities. The Montessori self-care activities help children achieve independence.

Self-care and hygiene activities include:

  1. Hand washing:
    The Children are encouraged to participate in handwashing activities to develop their self-care and hygiene skills as well as give them a sense of independence. This activity is introduced to children at 2.5 years of age. 
  2. Dressing frames:
    Montessori Dressing Frames are a unique Montessori material that introduces children of 3 years of age. The Montessori Dressing frames incorporate different types of fasteners like:
    • Buttoning frame (small and large)
    • Zipping frame 
    • Bow frame 
    • Lacing frame
    • Velcro frame
    • Buckling frame 
    • Safety pin frame 
    • Hook and eye frame

      These frames help children master different types of fasteners to help them learn how to dress themselves independently as well as facilitate the development of fine motor skills. 
  3. Clothes Folding:
    Folding clothes is an essential self-care activity that promotes order and structure in children. The activity is introduced to children 3 years of age. This activity helps children learn this basic life skill, control their movements as well as learn about basic symmetry.  
  4. Lock and Keys:
    The Montessori Lock and key activity is an interactive activity that incorporates padlocks and keys. It is introduced to children at 3 years to 5 years of age.
    This activity encourages children to match keys with designated locks. This Montessori activity increases concentration as well as develops fine motor skills in children. 
  5. Cleaning under their Nails:
    Cleaning under the nails is an important and essential hygiene skill children should acquire between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years of age.
    Children are promoted to participate in this activity and develop a sense of independence as well as refine their fine motor skills.
  6. Putting on a Coat:
    The activity is introduced to children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years of age.  This activity promotes self-dependency amongst developing children. 

Care of Environment

Along with taking care of themselves, the children should also develop a sense of responsibility towards taking care of their surroundings. These activities help the children become a contributing part of the surrounding environment.

These Activities will promote children to take care of the home, classroom, school, and outdoor environment.

These Activities include:  

  1. Cleaning a spill:
    The skill of cleaning a spill is an important skill to impart in young children to develop their sense of responsibility. This activity is introduced to children when they turn 3 years of age.
     
  2. Using a Dustpan  and a Brush:
    Taking care of the surrounding environment is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum. The Montessori Brush and Dustpan activity is introduced to children at the age of 3 years. The children learn how to clean as well as keep their surrounding environment tidy through this activity. 
  3. Wet Mopping:
    It is important to help children clean up after themselves in case a spill occurs. The Montessori wet mopping instills a sense of responsibility in children at the age of 3 years. 
  4. Setting up a Table:
    This activity is introduced to children at 3 years of age. The Montessori method of education promotes this practical life activity to help children learn how to become a contributing part of the home environment and develop their fine motor skills. Setting up a table also helps the children develop a sense of visual discrimination.
  5. Washing Dishes:
    This activity develops a sense of independence and ownership in young children. The activity is introduced to children at 3 years of age.
    The children should be provided with separate shatterproof as well as child-safe dishes. With the help of this activity, children gain confidence and board on the journey to becoming self-dependent.
  6. Taking care of Plants:
    The Plant care activities are introduced to children between the ages of 3 to 6 years of age. Initially, children are given small indoor plants to maintain and take care of.  This activity promotes children to keep their surrounding environment aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. to learn more about plant care.
    • Leaf polishing
    • Cleaning leaves
    • Watering plants
    • Flower arrangements 
    • Leaf-cutting 
  7. Taking care of Animals and Pets:
    Taking care of animals helps inculcate a sense of warmth, empathy and promotes young children to express love.
    This activity is a part of the Montessori Cosmic Education that teaches children about the interconnectedness of all the things that are present in the universe. This activity is introduced to children after they turn 4 years of age.
  8. Washing Fruits and Vegetables:
    This activity promotes children to participate in the food preparation process with adult assistance.
    This activity is introduced to children when they turn 3 years of age. 
    This activity helps children develop fine motor skills as well as build their concentration. 
  9. Sewing:
    This activity is introduced to children between the age of 3 to 6 years.
    This activity introduces children to different sewing activities that help them develop refine motor skills. 
  10.  Weaving and Knitting:
    This activity is introduced to children between 3 to 6 years. Weaving and Knitting activities help children develop concentration, independence, and refine motor skills.

These and many other activities are conducted to help the child develop skills to take care of the environment. 

Grace and Courtesy

The development of social skills is as important as the development of cognitive and physical aspects.
The children are acquainted with basic social and cultural etiquettes as well as customs with the help of Montessori Practical Life Activities.
The activities depend upon the customs of the environment the child is living in. 

Children get to learn how to:

  1. Get Someone’s Attention:
    Children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years of age are introduced to this activity.
    The children learn how to get someone’s attention without interrupting or injecting.  
  1. Greeting people:
    This activity is introduced to children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years. The children learn how to greet their peers and adults.
  1. Coughing and Sneezing
    Coughing and Sneezing in public is an essential part of the Montessori greeting and courtesy activities.
    The children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years learn how to use their hands or a handkerchief to cover their face while sneezing or coughing. 
  2. Blowing a nose:
    The children between the ages of 2 to 3 years learn how to properly blow their noses while using a napkin or a handkerchief. 
  3. Helping others:
    This activity is introduced to children at the age of 4 years. The children develop a sense of empathy with the help of this activity.
  1. Serving food:
    This activity is introduced to children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years of age. Serving food to others can help children develop a sense of empathy as well as help them develop gross motor skills
  1. Learning how to say please, thank you, and sorry:
    This activity covers basic etiquettes and greetings which are introduced to children between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years of age.
    The children learn when it is the appropriate time to say “Please” “Thank you” “You’re Welcome” and “Sorry”.

Why Are Montessri Practical Life Activities Important?

While basic curriculum subjects like mathematics, science, and language are important for the child’s cognitive as well as intellectual development, there are several other aspects one should take into account for the child’s optimum development.

The Montessori method of education goes far beyond what is deemed as a basic curriculum and provides children with a vast variety of activities that contribute to their physical growth, social development, as well as emotional development.

Montessori Practical Life Curriculum is amongst the cornerstones of the Montessori Philosophy and provides children with a plethora of opportunities to become independent entities.

The Montessori Practical Life Activities offer children to learn about the real-life experiences that are vital for their future prospects.

TThese Practical life activities cover a wide range of aspects that contribute to the child’s physical development, motor development, and covers other vital aspects like grace or courtesy to help the child become a well-rounded individual.