Montessori at Home – Practical Life

Practical Life Sewing

Maria Montessori designed the Practical Life curriculum to teach children concentration, independence, and a great love for work. She discovered that children have an innate need to imitate the activities of adults, as this is their way of learning about their role within society and their environment. Thus, Practical Life exercises are designed to meet this need by providing children with the skills to move and manipulate materials independently.

The objectives of the Practical Life curriculum are based on teaching children skills that are relevant to everyday life, such as control and coordination of movement, independence, concentration, care of self, and care for the environment. Practical Life work also gives children the opportunity to develop a sense of pride in their work. Through contributions in the classroom, home, and the wider community, children learn to gain a sense of independence and satisfaction in what they have achieved. In effect, this provides children with the building blocks for positive self-esteem, and a sense of place within their society.

To achieve the greatest benefit from Practical Life Education it is essential that children understand the importance and value of an activity. For example, if the activity is watering plants, it’s important that children know that watering plants keeps them living and healthy. The skills that children learn from the Practical Life Curriculum also assist with the development of their social, mental, physical and emotional faculties. Through Practical Life Exercises, children learn to become independent and come to fully realize their potential capabilities.

Practical Life Stringing Beads
Stringing Beads
Practical Life Washing Dishes
Washing Dishes
Practical Life Dusting
Practical Life Cleaning a Stool
Washing a Stool
Practical Life Folding Laundry
Folding Laundry
Practical Life Preparing Snack
Preparing Snack
Practical Life Mopping

Toddler and Early Childhood Montessori at Home – Bubble Whisking

Toddler Bubble Whisking

The Bubble Whisking Practical Life activity can easily be completed in the home environment. Read on to see how this seemingly simple activity benefits a child’s development.

Clink, clink, clink. The sound of a whisk gently hitting the side of the glass bowl is heard across the classroom as a child focuses intently on whisking soap bubbles into a bubble frenzy. After sufficient bubbles are created, the child carefully walks the bowl of water over to a bucket, empties the water slowly, and returns to the table where he neatly dries the bowel and tray with a towel. The work is then returned to the shelf and the child moves on to the next self-chosen activity.

A visitor observing our Montessori classroom might wonder, “What is the point of this activity? Shouldn’t a child be focusing on reading and writing rather than making soap bubbles?” Practical Life activities do seem a little mysterious to the untrained eye. However, they play an important role in the development of a child in a Montessori classroom.

Consider, first, the steps a child must remember in order to do a work like whisking successfully. Recalling and executing sequences prepares a child for academic works in language and math. Next, the fine motor that the work requires of the child readies their hand for writing. Even the way that they are taught to maneuver the whisk mimics letter formation. Finally, the child develops their ability to concentrate and focus on a task. Developing their ability to concentrate prepares the mind for completing challenging academic works in the future. Beyond all of these preparations is the subliminal lesson in independence and respect for the environment that the child is receiving. Who knew a simple activity such as whisking could teach a young child so much?

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Toddler and Early Childhood Montessori at Home – Dry Pouring

Toddler and Early Childhood Montessori at Home – Dry Pouring
Dry Pouring, from the Practical Life area, helps children refine skills that will help them in everyday life and is easily adaptable to the home environment.
Pouring cereal into a bowl? Transferring baking soda and salt into a flour mixture? These daily tasks can seem daunting to a child, but in reality, present no problem with a little bit of practice. This is where Dry Pouring (and Wet Pouring) come in.
Dry Pouring appeals to a child’s love of materials with tiny components, such as grains of rice or small beads. They carefully pour these materials from a bigger vessel into one or more smaller containers. It’s powerful to witness when even one grain of rice spills, how carefully a child will return it to its proper place.
Having a good command over pouring both wet and dry objects will help the child with other work in the classroom. For example, washing floors or dishes requires pouring large amounts of water into a bucket to then be poured in the sink or wastewater area. This takes precision, but is no problem for a child who has already mastered pouring skills from early Practical Life materials such as Dry Pouring.
 #drypouring #wetpouring #montessoriathome #capable #independence #practicallife #realwork #tma #montessori #privateschool #arlingtontx #arlington #texas #infant #nido #toddler #earlychildhood #preschool #kindergarten #elementary #education #privateeducation #nontraditional #themontessoriacademyofarlington

How to Montessori at Home: Art

toddler and Early Childhood students

For young children, open ended art provides unlimited possibilities for creativity and concentration. Rather than provide detailed instructions or coloring books, offer different mediums like watercolors, crayons, colored paper, scissors and glue. Providing small amounts of several different materials will make clean-up more manageable for children. More materials can be added if a child runs out, but too many of the materials at once can be overwhelming for not only creating, but for cleaning up as well.

Here is example of an art shelf designed for up to 9 children, so an art space at home will not require as many of each item. Small pieces of construction paper, liquid glue and paint brushes for collage, watercolors, scissors, colored pencils, and oil pastels are all separated and organized so a child can retrieve their own materials as needed and return them to their designated space. 

Provide a large bowl or bucket of clean water and an empty one for a child to dispose of dirty water. The Toddler and Early Childhood classrooms all have these so a Montessori child will be accustomed to using these if there is not full access to a sink. 

Kindergarten and Elementary students

For more structured art projects for older children, these are some artists that can be used to inspire new creations. In Extension Art, we begin class by observing copies of famous artworks by a single artist and discuss what we notice. Then materials are offered and the children can create their own piece how they please. Providing a print of examples or viewing them on a tablet allows children to view them as they work. Some children like to recreate pieces while others interpret the artist’s work in their own way and merely use it for inspiration. Each way is an appropriate creative outlet while still enriching their art history knowledge.

Project Ideas

Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch was a German artist who popularized photo-collages. For this project, provide a large piece of paper, some magazine pages, scissors and glue (liquid glue and a paintbrush will refine their motor skills further, but glue sticks will work). Keep a recycling bin near by for scraps. Whole magazines will likely overwhelm children, so providing a handful of pages is appropriate. 

Art Montessori at Home Hannah Hoch

Ancient Architecture

Discuss buildings like the Parthenon, the Pont de Gurd aqueduct, and the Colosseum and highlight the differences and similarities. Then use cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, or any other reusable recyclables to create a structure. Duct tape is most effective for this, so cutting some pieces and setting them out ahead of time will be easier for some. To extend this project, paint the structure.

2020 Art Montessori at Home_architecture

Jackson Pollock

Splatter painting, which might require more supervision, is messy and is best completed outside. For easier clean up, mix some washable paint with a little bit of dish soap. If you notice it’s not splattering much, you can add water to the paint.

Jackson Pollock Painting

Some other artists our Extension students have already studied:

  • Pablo Picasso – Blue Period: mixed media collages with everything blue, colored paper collages to mimic Cubism
  • Ida and Georgia O’Keefe: use rulers or colored paper for Ida’s Lighthouses, watercolors for Georgia’s flowers
  • Wassily Kandinsky: colored paper shapes or using objects as stencils like cups for circles, boxes for squares
  • Claude Monet: watercolor water lilies
  • Georges Seurat: Q-tips bundled up with rubber bands, separate bundles for each color

Toddler – Practical Life

Toddler - Setting the Table
The exercises in the Practical Life area reflect Montessori’s concept of “an education for life” as the child develops practical skills necessary to gain mastery over his actions and he learns to use the common objects of daily life. By engaging in real activities and using real objects with purposeful ends, the child develops real abilities, which give him independence and control of his life. It also helps the child adapt to his environment, as he must follow the social norms and culturally specific methods that govern its care. This gives the child a sense of belonging and order.
By engaging in these activities, the child learns to focus his attention for the entirety of an activity and upon completion, has a deep sense of fulfillment. Therefore, the aim of these activities is not only practical but also developmental. Through these activities, the child to develops concentration, independence, co-ordination of movement, inner discipline and independence. This inevitably prepares for the physical, intellectual, cultural, and social life of the individual.
In the first children’s houses, she observed that the children, when given an option, usually preferred real activities over imaginary ones. They liked making a real contribution to the care of their environment.
Though the child may be conscious of helping, she will be unconscious of the personal growth that comes about through doing an orderly and meaningful task.
#handsonlearning #practicallife #preparationforlife #tma #montessori #privateschool #arlingtontx #arlington #texas #infant #nido #toddler #earlychildhood #preschool #kindergarten #elementary #education #privateeducation #themontessoriacademy #themontessoriacademyofarlington

Early Childhood – Mirror Polishing

Early Childhood Polishing
Concentration is a skill that needs practice to improve and develop. Montessori classrooms provide an environment that offers the time and opportunity to practice deep concentration. The uninterrupted work period enables the children to focus on a task for as long as they wish without an adult-imposed schedule. The adult in the environment is cautious not to interrupt and break the children’s concentration. As the ability to concentrate improves, the children also develop better self-control and self-regulation.

Education for parents too!

Learning about the oceans

Does this sound familiar?

Parent, “What did you do in school today?”

Child, “I don’t remember.” or, “Nothing.”

If you are like most parents, you have had this same conversation with your child day after day. Try using one of these “lead-ins” instead and see if you receive a more informative response.

  • What was the best/worst thing that happened at school today?
  • Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  • How did you help someone today?
  • How did somebody help you today?
  • When were you the happiest/saddest today?
  • Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  • Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
  • Tell me something good that happened today.
  • What word did your teacher say the most today?
  • What do you think you should get to do more of at school?
  • What do you think you should do less of at school?
  • Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
  • Where (what) do you play the most at recess?
  • Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
  • What was your favorite part of lunch (or snack)?
  • If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
  • Tell me about 2 different times that you used a pencil (paint brush, crayon, etc.) today?

If you ask questions like these, you may hear about great work like this!

Phonograms, The Montessori Academy of Arlington, Private School Arlington TX