Today let’s take a look behind the scenes in the classroom to give you some ideas for Montessori-style activities to do at home. This time let’s peek at what we Montessori teachers call practical life activities, ie, activities of daily life. Yes, all those things to do with looking after ourselves and our environment.
And I should mention they are great for calming active kids.
You’ll take away new ideas how to include your child around the house (they might be chores to us but young kids love this stuff!), how to set up these activities to make them attractive to your child and how to simplify activities to give your child success.
Practical life activities in the classroom
Firstly, let’s have a look at the activities in our classroom for toddlers and preschoolers.
In the kitchen area of our classroom, we have these activities set up for the children to work with any time:
- Spreading crackers
- Peeling and cutting bananas
- Squeezing orange juice
- Peeling and cutting applies
- Dish washing
- Pouring water
You can see everything they need laid out on a tray at the ready. It’s attractive. And the implements are child-sized for the child to have success.
Other practical life activities found in the classroom include:
- Hand washing
- Flower arranging
- Sweeping and mopping
- Cleaning the windows
- Watering the plants
- Self care – nose blowing, hair brushing and some hair clips to practise with
Ideas for at home
It’s quite easy to incorporate any of these activities at home with a little preparation. Think about which items the child will need and have them at the ready, only put out a small amount (eg just a small amount of butter for spreading in a small dish), and be there to step in to help out when needed.
Some ideas for at home:
- Any of the above ideas from the classroom
- Helping with the laundry – bringing things to the laundry basket, putting clothes in and out of the washing machine, adding soap, sorting washing
- Getting dressed and undressed – provide just as much help as necessary and provide clothing that is easy for the child to learn to master
- Help with breakfast – have a container with a scoop in it for them to serve their own cereal; add a small jug of milk on the breakfast table; setting the table
- Help with lunch – have a small amount of items where the child can serve themselves, for example, some slices of bread or rice crackers with various toppings or spread; the child may wish to help wash up
- Help with dinner – preparing vegetables (look for implements suitable for small hands) and salad; setting the table; washing up
- Getting ready for visitors – making the beds, getting a towel, tidying away toys
- Trips to the supermarket
Tips for at home
Most of all remember it is meant to be fun. Stop before you feel overwhelmed. And keep practising!
- Only put out as much as you want to clean up – be it water, dish soap, a travel size bottle of shampoo
- Have cleaning supplies at the ready – a hand mitt on the table to wipe up spills, a child sized broom and mop for larger mess
- When they are under 2 years old, activities will have one or two steps. As they gain mastery, add more steps, eg, put on an apron, wipe up at the end, take wet cloths to the laundry etc.
- Focus on the process not the result – when your child helps it will take longer, it may not look perfect at the end, but your child is learning to master these skills and you will have a life-long helper at home
- Look for ways your child can help – when younger keep it simple (an 18 month old can help carry the t-shirt while you carry the trousers to the laundry basket and can rinse some salad leaves for dinner); as they get to 2+ years, they can help out with even more
- Look for baskets, trays and simple caddies to arrange items for them to help
- Does it look attractive? Sometimes it’s fun to add items that are the same colour, keep items looking fresh, and don’t overcrowd the tray or basket so they look appealing
- Keep it budget friendly – I’m sure you can create these activities with things you have around the home. And look out for a few nice things to add to your collection for birthdays, well-meaning grandparents and special occasions.
Not only do young kids take pleasure from these Montessori activities, these activities are also great for calming busy kids.
- Your child learns to take responsibility in the home
- Collaboration creates connection
- These skills require repetition to gain mastery which is great for building concentration
- Your child likes to feel a part of the family and able to contribute
- These activities involve sequences and you can build up the number of steps in the activity as their concentration grows
- Involve a lot of movement – great for refining fine motor and gross motor skills, eg, pouring water without spilling, using a sponge
- There are many language opportunities around these activities
- Learning news skills, building independence and feeling of self-reliance
If you’d like some ideas by age group, pop over to this post I did with a breakdown of age appropriate chores. There’s even an infographic I made that you can print out. (It’s been pinned over 145,000 times – crazy right?)
I hope this inspires you to get your child involved in daily activities around the home. They don’t need to sit in front of the television or play on the iPad while you do these jobs. Young children love to be involved and gain so many skills at the same time.
Have yourselves a lovely week. Let those kids inspire you to become even more curious yourself!