WHAT IS PRACTICAL LIFE?
The pictures below are of Practical Life activities taken from a Montessori school. Practical Life exercises are highly valued in the Montessori method due to the importance that they have in teaching children useful life skills. Practical Life activities also have a strong fine motor component and so are valuable in developing and extending children's fine motor abilities as well as their cognitive development.
Before a child begins using a practical life activity, he or she receives a demonstration on the correct use of it. This is for every activity that the child wishes to try. The teacher demonstrates how to carry the tray or basket to the table correctly, how to safely and correctly use the materials, how to clean up and order the activity when it is finished, and then how to place the tray or basket back on the shelf correctly.
In the Montessori method, demonstration by the teacher is very important to ensure correct and responsible use of the activities, especially where glass jugs and such are used. If children are using materials incorrectly or irresponsibly, the teacher will again go through a demonstration with the child. If the child persists with negative behavior, they are aware that they will lose their privilege to engage with these activities. It is expected that all materials are used safely and are returned in a neat state to the shelves. It is these expectations along with the activities that develop life skills such as responsibility and self discipline. Thanks to Leanne Pinel for allowing me to include these activities
The children are given small spray bottles with a small amount of oil (for wood and silver) or water with a small amount of windex. Children are shown how to spray appropriate amounts on the object and then how to polish with a cloth using circular motions
Small Muscle Activities.
These activities require a lot of use of the fingers and small muscles of the hand. The activities pictured are padlocks with keys, nuts and bolts, boxes with lids, jars with screw top lids, different types of door locks, and bolts to remove with a tool.
These activities involve pouring liquids from one container into another. You can see that each tray has a small sponge for spillages.
Extension of Pouring Liquids
In these activities the child pours liquids from one container to another but also pours through something. In the top tray, the child pours through a funnel, and in the bottom tray the child pours through a strainer.
The child uses a spoon to move the beans from one bowl to another.
This requires an adjustment from pouring solids seeing as the solids (beans) move differently from container to container.
These trays are designed to develop skills that children can use in their homes and everyday lives - folding and unfolding socks, folding napkins, and setting the table. Note that lines were stitched into the napkins so that the child would know where to fold them so some napkins were folded in half to form a rectangle, and some diagonally to form a triangle. A small shoe was also provided in this area to allow for practise with tying shoe laces.
Pincer Grip Activities
These activities develop control over the pincer grip. You can see that there is a graduation in the level of skill required - first using large tongs to transfer pompoms to a bowl, next using sugar cube tongs to transfer beads between bowls, and then using tweezers to transfer small flat shapes to a bowl.
Extension of Pincer Grip Activities
Here the child uses a large syringe to transfer liquid between containers. This again requires control over the pincer grip in order to be able to collect the liquid into the syringe and then place it in the other bowl
Extension #2 of Pincer Grip Activities
In this activity the child moves to using a small syringe to transfer the liquids
Extension of Spooning Skills
In this activity the child uses a small spoon and places one marble in each section of the ice cube tray.
These are wooden frames with different types of materials nailed on. Each frame has a different type of object that the child needs to use. The frames have the following objects for children to manipulate - buckles, buttons, zipper, safety pins, studs, and laces. Each frame encourages the child to work on using objects that are regularly found on clothing, thereby developing their dressing skills.
This page was last updated on: April 12, 2011
Miss G's Aussie Kindergarten
FINE MOTOR AND PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS LESSON IDEAS