Practical Life~ More on Montessori

I have to first start out this post by saying that a lot of my research has come from a book Basic Montessori Learning Activities for Under Fives, and from fellow blogger mommas out there! I will add in a bibliography at the end of this post if you are interested in learning more!
I think we all can see the benefit of teaching practical life skills. We teach our little ones to accomplish several tasks that we might just expect them to learn on their own through observation. An example of this would be just assuming that because our child sees us sweep the floor, that he will have the skills to do it for himself. And we all know how much our kiddos love to help. They want to wash the dishes and set the table and things of that nature- so let them help and teach ’em along the way! Children want to have important things to do during the day- just like us adults- instead of trivial activities.

If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.”
– Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Practical Life Activities are broken down into three categories- Manipulative Skills, Self Development, and Care of the Environment. The practical life activities listed are going to be categorized in this fashion. I am going to write down as many as I can come up with and links to some amazing activities to help you teach it to your child.

  1. opening and closing boxes
  2. opening and closing lids of jars and biscuit tins
  3. opening and closing various types of doors and cupboards
  4. pouring beans,rice, etc. between two jugs, pouring water, and pouring water through a funnel
  5. sponge transfer activities
  6. using a spoon to transfer objects
  7. pincer grip activities with tongs, tweezers, turkey baster, eyedroppers, and syringes
  8. folding and unfolding clothes
  9. lifting, carrying, and putting down a delicate object or liquid
  10. lifting, carrying, and putting down a tray with objects on it
  11. carrying a floor mat
  12. unrolling and rolling up a floor mat
  13. sitting on the edge of an unrolled floor mat
  14. lifting, carrying, and putting down a chair
  15. sitting down, getting up, and tucking in a chair at the table
  16. using scissors and handing them to someone
  17. handling a book
  18. handling and playing a CD
  19. opening a lock with a key
  20. nuts and bolts
  21. using stickers, stamps, glue, paintbrushes, markers, play dough, crayons, and other art equipment appropriately
  22. threading beads on a necklace
  23. sorting
  24. puzzles
  25. winding and unwinding yarn
  26. walking on the line, without knocking into furniture or people
  27. dancing without knocking into furniture or people
  28. the silence game
  1. washing hands and face
  2. blowing nose and throwing tissue away correctly
  3. coughing into elbow
  4. drying hands with a paper towel and throwing it away
  5. care of fingernails, teeth and hair
  6. toilet training
  7. braiding yarn or ribbon
  8. braiding hair
  9. dressing frames (buttoning, buckling, lacing, zipper, presss studs, bows) DIY
  10. tying a tie
  11. putting on clothes, coats, shoes
  12. polishing shoes
  13. putting clothes in washer and dryer
  14. brushing lint from clothes
  15. folding clothes
  16. folding socks
  17. hanging clothes on a hook
  18. hanging clothes on a hanger
  19. fastening clothes on a line with clothespins
  20. saying please and thank you
  21. drawing a person’s attention before speaking
  22. gracefully climbing and descending stairs
  23. giving way to others at the doorway
  24. asking permission to get past in a small space
  25. greeting friends and greeting strangers
  26. offering a seat to a visitor
  27. offering refreshments to a visitor
  28. answering the phone
  29. apologizing
  30. introduce oneself
  31. table manners and using utensils
  32. learning address and phone number
  1. dusting
  2. sweeping with a small broom and dust pan
  3. washing a table surface
  4. cleaning up spills with a sponge
  5. mopping the floor
  6. preparing food- washing, cutting bread, grating cheese, coring apples, peeling carrots & bananas
  7. cooking skills- using an egg beater, using a wire whisk, etc
  8. polishing furniture
  9. polishing brass objects
  10. polishing windows and mirrors
  11. ironing (AUGH that scares me!!!)
  12. putting dirty clothes in laundry basket
  13. washing doll clothes on washboard
  14. setting a table
  15. folding napkins
  16. using knives with good control
  17. cracking nuts
  18. making a bed
  19. washing and drying dishes and utensils
  20. stacking dishes and sorting utensils
  21. drawing and opening curtains and blinds
  22. watering plants
  23. arranging flowers in a vase
  24. caring for animals
  25. putting materials away neatly
  26. simple use of needle and thread

Phew!! This is a lengthy list- and it isn’t everything.. but it should give you a pretty good idea of what activities are considered Practical Life lessons! And I bet you are teaching your little one so many of these things already. Remember it’s all about explicit instruction and modeling, giving your kiddo the chance to do it for himself repeatedly, and then using that skill as a foundation for a more challenging activity.
Since this is where a lot of emphasis is placed on the smallest of tots, I will focus on making some specific learning activities for my daughter (despite the fact that many of these I will teach as the opportunity comes up in real world situations). I need to get a plant (one that needs watering), make some dressing boards, and collect some transfer materials such as tongs and tweezers. My daughter loves opening and closing boxes, so in true Montessori fashion I should have some activities based on that. My goal is to make materials and learning activities as REAL as possible. I will write some follow up posts of the implementation and our little journey towards independence.
Happy Learning!

Basic Montessori Learning Activities for Under Fives
Mont Home- Practical Life– MUST CHECK THIS OUT!!!
Good Tree Montessori– another fabulous Montessori mommy site!
Montessori Practical Life experiences for preschoolers
Montessori World
Practical Life and Fine Motor Activities
Chasing Cherrios

Post Update: Click on this link to download a pdf of these practical life activities!

Post 3 of 8 on Montessori Teaching

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3 thoughts on “Practical Life~ More on Montessori

  1. Momma Snail

    I am so thankful that you have written this post! I seldom print things…but this will be something I print out. It’s just what I have been looking for!


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