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Constructing your Own Practical Life Exercises

The Practical Life section of Montessori is an extremely important sector. It is the foundation of the Montessori method. Montessori saw that young children were attracted to activities that he saw going on around him and that gave him independence and control of his own life. She therefore introduced into her classrooms materials and exercises that allowed the children the maximum opportunities to learn how to look after themselves and their environment. Montessori practiced each exercise herself and scribed the method for presenting.

The presentation of every practical life exercise must show each of the activity’s movements clearly and distinctly, stressing the essentials movements, all in a graceful but efficient step-by-step operation, which will lead to success for the child.

The practical life exercises must be shown to the child with little or no speaking. It is unnecessary for language or conversation to accompany the presentations and it is thought that words and instructions may distract the child from mastering the skill at hand.

When these exercises are done they help the child to satisfy basic tendencies of establishing order, repetition, knowledge of self, a sense of well-being and a sense of security. Thus contributing to his whole personality, physical, mental and spiritual aiding him to reach control of self, independence, co-ordination, and will help him to acquire that concentration needed for further development.

It is easy and inexpensive to create your own practical life activities in your own environments (i.e. houses or classrooms).

I am going to construct a practical life exercise showing the children how to use a spoon. For this I will need a tray, two bowls a spoon and objects to spoon. I will use pasta for this demonstration but other items such as rice, peas, beads, beans, lentils can also be used. Larger items should be used first (pasta) and contents can be changed to get gradually harder as the items get smaller.

Items needed:

Two identical bowls,
Small spoon,
Tray
Pasta

A spooning activity’s direct purpose is to refine the child’s skill of spooning but indirectly it helps to develop the child’s independence, to develop the child’s hand-eye co-ordination, to develop the child’s concentration, to develop the child’s fine motor control, to encourage the child’s self-discipline and control and to satisfy the child’s need for order in the classroom.