What is the mission of Practical Life? To provide meaningful opporutunities for every child to grow in concentration, coordination, grace and courtesy, independence as well as adapt to society. Practical Life is the very foundation of all other areas of the Montessori approach to education. Activities and exercises instill care for self, others and the environment.
What are some great ways that Practical Life can be explored in the home?
- Clean house – Provide a small bottle and cloth for cleaning windows
- Bake cookies – This activity provides opportunities for mixing, spreading, and decorating
- Set the table – Roll cloth placemats like rugs. Unroll each placemat for each person at the table
- Create wrapping paper – A roll of paper and tempera paints make easy homemade wrapping paper
- Sweep the floor – Using a child size broom
- Bundle sticks – Pick up and bundle with ribbon for easy fire starter
- Feed the birds – Dip pinecones in nut butter and roll in seeds to make bird feeders to hang in the tree
- Read with the family – Go to the library and choose new books to share together
Through the activities of Practical Life the child also learns that work has a beginning, middle and end as control of movement and the power of concentration are developed. In the home, the adult can lead the child to find many ways in which he/she can contribute and grow in partnership with the family.
- Plan a simple meal, help with grocery shopping, and put the groceries away
- Follow a schedule for feeding and caring for pets
- Help with yard and garden work
- Hang up clothes, and put belongings in their “home” spot
- Make the bed and clean room
- Separate clothing for washing into various loads; fold laundry
- Pay for small purchases
- Polish and dust
Practical Life for Elementary
Elementary students continue to grow Practical Life skills learned at earlier levels. More capable and independent, they are integrating their learning at a deeper and higher level, and connecting studies to real life experiences.
There is an increased interest in community and social involvement both in the classroom and the outside world.
Here are some ideas for the home:
- Service and social opportunities in your community – clothing and food drives
- Facilitate family meetings – opportunity to assume leadership role and problem solve
- Learn banking, how to be thrifty, save and give
- Family meal for all to enjoy – plan, shop, cook, set the table, serve and clean-up
- Going Out – plan a famly day trip to a museum, park, nature center
- Provide pet care for family and neighbors
- Handcrafts (knitting, embroidery) and building something together – birdhouses, shelves
- Yard work – raking, bagging leaves and watering plants
- Welcome and serve guests in the home – tea, lemonade, homemade baked goods
By: Pamela Baumbarger, Lisa Jones, and Kimberlyn Martinez