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The best toys in life are free

Otis washing salad May 2015

We can set up elaborate activities, we can buy expensive toys, but what is it that children are really drawn to? Some of the best activities are right at our fingertips, already in our home.

I'm talking about practical life. Not all children are attracted to food or kitchen activities. However children in the sensitive period for practical life can and will find satisfying activities in the home - if we allow them. 

If Otis can reach his materials he will often do practical life activities on his own - made a spill, get his mop. But the best way to engage him is just to ask "want to help?". More often than not I will receive a yes. 

Otis cutting carrot for salad May 2015

Oh, there is so much to learn from practical life. Social, environmental, physical. And it's something that is visible, tangible, worthwhile - practical life activities have an end result. A clean window, watered plants, food to share and eat.

Practical life activities don't need to be planned for. Often I find the time I plan for Otis to participate is the time he isn't really interested. However we need to be prepared. It helps to find time to show children skills. Otis has had so much practice peeling and cutting that all I have to do with salad is to get out a few bowls and help get the salad items from the refrigerator. He makes salad in the 40 minutes it takes me to make lasagne. If he hadn't previously learnt cutting skills I would need to take more time to show him. The more they do, the more they want to do and the more proficient they get.

Otis slicing tomato making salad May 2015

Concentration. Fine Motor Skills. Life skills. A happy and satisfied child. 

Otis making salad dressing in a jar May 2015

Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations. The first few times Otis made a salad it consisted of carrot and lettuce. He was uncompromising. Now we've added a few more ingredients and even home made salad dressing. His salad isn't perfect but it's nice, simple and tastes good. 

Otis pouring salad dressing May 2015

Practical life. It's not hard or unachievable. It's fantastic!