Practical Life

The purpose of the Practical Life area is to provide real life experiences for children, through which they develop motor control and coordination, independence, concentration and a sense of responsibility.

This area is divided in 4 main areas:

  • Fine motor skills (threading, transferring, pincer grip), which strengthens the child’s hand muscles to prepare her to the action of holding a pencil to write.
  • Care of self: dressing frames to introduce skills as buttoning, zipping, tying, etc. Hand washing, baby doll washing, pouring juice.
  • Care of environment: Setting and clearing table, sweeping, watering plants, tidy up.
  • Grace and courtesy: courteous greeting, interrupting, table manners.

The Practical life activities

Practical Life Exercises are the foundation of the Montessori environment, provide a sane and wholesome range of activities which allow the children to develop control and coordination of movement, awareness of their environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, responsibility, and many other characteristics which can only be attained through spontaneous, purposeful work


The Montessori Pouring activities

The pouring activities are part of the Practical Life area of a Montessori environment. They are typically most popular with two- and three-year-olds.

“Exercises in Practical Life fulfill the child’s need for independence. The child needs to adapt the need to a purposeful motor activity; and he needs to repeat that activity until he reaches perfection. All exercises have a three-fold aim. They must reach the whole person; that is, they must reach the physical, mental and spiritual.”–From a Montessori training manual by Ursula Thrush.

“All the practical life activities, in addition to improving hand-eye coordination and muscle control, are designed to increase the child’s ability to concentrate [and to also go from left to right, and from top to bottom]….Preparation for reading and writing is [also]…taking place during this period [the sensitive period for language] in more indirect ways….and is part of the planned curriculum….it may not be as obvious how such activities as scrubbing a table can contribute to the child’s readiness for reading and writing.”–From Montessori on a Limited Budget by Elvira Farrow and Carol Hill.

Sewing and weaving

Lacing and stringing activities help young children develop manual dexterity and manipulative skills. By using their hands, children more fully integrate learning experiences. Weaving, sewing, and other kinds of handwork extend the benefits of Practical Life work for the older child. Children will continue to develop fine motor skills and concentration, while building self-confidence with successful experiences

Tranferring using a spoon

Transferring Exercises
Marble Spooning
Tongs Exerercises
(various kinds of tongs ranging from simple to difficult) Transferring Exercises in the Practical Life Area provide interesting opportunities for the child to build eye-hand coordination, develop focus and attention, refine motor skills and hone muscular control.

Making use of things mostly found around the home, these activities promote learning of skills that also enable them to participate fully and independently in their home life. With independence comes also the building of the child’s self-confidence and initiative which carries out to his attitude towards learning in general.

The bow tying frame

Dressing Frames
These individual Dressing Frames present a variety of activities which introduce self-help skills – buttoning, lacing, zipping, etc. While doing these exercises, children also hone fine finger motor skills, understand the importance of sequence in tasks, as well as enhance focus and concentration.