If you are new to Montessori, practical life is a great way to start with children under the age of six. Today I want to share some practical life activities we've been using with our three-year-old (42 months). These are useful for us right now as they are based on skills we are wanting to teach our child or are based on tasks we need help with around our home. These activities use materials we already have.
- Cleaning eyeglasses - the aim of this activity is to show the child how to handle and clean eyeglasses, with this example we have presented children's sunglasses, cleaning spray, and a soft cloth. This year I've started wearing eyeglasses (for reading) and I've been wanting to teach our three-year-old how to handle glasses carefully hopefully, this activity will help.
- Sharpening pencils - this is a good pre-writing activity due to the strengthening of the hand and arms and the rotation of the wrists. This also empowers the child to look after and maintain their own pencils.
- Putting on a pillowcase - this is so hard for young children to do! Of course, this doesn't need to be presented on a tray but I've given this to my child to practice over and over. We've used a small toddler pillow so it's easier for the young child to handle.
- Sorting and folding socks - a young toddler can match socks and learning to fold them takes it one step further.
- Applying sunscreen or lotion - often we ask our children to apply sunscreen just before we go out and inevitably everyone is in a hurry. Applying lotion while sitting down and with time to focus, with no one waiting to go out, gives the child the opportunity to practice putting the lotion on their hands and applying it to their face, it also provides the opportunity for the child to closely observe their facial features. It's also empowering for the child to put the lotion or sunscreen on first and then we can go over it after to make sure their whole face is covered and the lotion is rubbed in.
- Oiling wooden kitchen utensils - we have a lot of wooden spoons, spatulas, and salad servers that are dry and could use some oil. We've applied olive oil to ensure it is food safe and doesn't flavor the food. This is very similar to wood polishing in which we could use beeswax polish. This also teaches the child about home/kitchen tool maintenance.
I like to observe all of my children when they are working in our home. If there is a task they are struggling with I try to incorporate it in an activity where we can isolate and focus on the part they are having difficulty with. We can take the time to demonstrate and allow them to practice with as much repetition as they want or need.
This activity was very well received. A little spray - using a sprayer like this is a good workout for little fingers.
We are not having a lot of success with sharpening pencils but Otto is persistent and will keep on trying. He's shaving some wood off but not enough to sharpen the pencil. I'm sure it will just take time and a little more practice.
Applying lotion is fun!!
Oiling our wooden spoons is super useful. This gives good feedback as the child can easily see where they've been and gives some satisfaction at the end when the whole spoon is done. Later we can show the child in the kitchen how good the spoons look now they are not all dry.