Material used to teach practical life in a Montessori nursery class

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Montessori practical life

Shelf with trays used to teach practical life

In this article, I will show you the necessary material needed in a class for children from 2 and a half to 6 years old to teach practical life. All the material must be displayed on a nice tray, easy to hold by the child. The material must not be toys but real objects and products that can break if they fall. The material must be made of glass, porcelain, earthenware, aluminum … Objects that the child will find at home used by adults on an everyday basis.

The material used to teach practical life helps develop:

– Order

– Coordination

– Concentration

– Independence

It helps the child to carry out most of everyday activities on his own, which is crucial to develop his self-confidence. When the adult does things in his place, the child becomes totally dependent, and develops a great sense of insecurity that undermines his self-confidence.

It is also important to teach the child vocabulary during these exercises. I remind you that this is the sensitive period towards language and therefore it is crucial to develop his vocabulary thanks to the use of correct words.

Montessori material

Exercise done with snail pliers

The indirect goals are: the preparation for reading and writing. The material also prepares for math, like for example the exercise involving the pouring of liquids into different jars prepares to the division. The exercises involving the cure of the environment also prepare to math because they teach the child that things must be done in order just like in a math problem.

The exercises that involve the pouring of water also prepare to the handling of measures.

Montessori practical life

Pour liquids


1) Exercises involving the pouring of liquids

  1. Pour with a spoon (beans, rice…) and their variant (pour with the use of a funnel)
  2. Pour water
  • Press the sponge
  • Pour from one jar to the other
  • Pour from one jar to several jars
  • Pour with a pipette

2) Exercises involving the ordering of things

P10306033) Exercises involving “opening and closing”

    1. Different boxes with different lids
Practical life

Open and close the lid

2. Open and close the lid

  • Boxes
  • Bottles
  • Bolts and screws

3. Padlocks

4. Exercises with pliers

  • Pliers for snails or pliers for spaghetti
  • Tweezers
  • Clothes pegs

5. Cut out paper (with different types of lines)


Take care of the Montessori class

Take care of the class.

1) Concrete exercises to teach the child how to use the objects in the class (it is not necessary for the exercises to be done all year long but the child has to encounter them at a certain point during the school year)

  • Clean the chair
  • Clean the table
  • Water the plants
  • Wash the leaves of the plants
  • If there is an animal, he must find things to take care of it, feed it, wash it…
    Montessori screws and bolts

    Exercise with screws and bolts


2) Exercises which help the development of dexterity (it is not necessary to find all exercises but at least one of each series and it is important to vary them during the year)

    • Cut out on a line (indispensible)
    • Wash a mirror
    • Polish an object
    • Shine shoes
    • Sweep the floor
    • Use a feather duster
    • Set the table
Learn how to do shoe laces

Learn how to do shoe laces

3) Exercises involving the cure of one’s self

    • Dressing
    • Buttons
    • Hooks
    • Zips
    • Scratches
    • Laces

Cutting exercises.

You will notice that in all series, you will find easy, and more difficult exercises. It is necessary to set exercises involving different difficulties on the shelves so that the child can find what will help him learn and progress. A child must never get bored.

Set the table

Set the table

The child must be presented to the material before using it. That way, the child will know how to use things correctly. It is not proper to present the child with an exercise that you consider too difficult so that the child is not in a position of failure, which would hurt his self-confidence and damage his thirst for learning.

Always keep in mind that it is not the result of the exercise that will interest the child but rather the action involved in it (contrary to thte adult). A child can clean a mirror several times. What interests him is the act of cleaning.

A child must always complete the exercise and put it back where he found it.

Open- close/ screw-unscrew

Open- close/ screw-unscrew

Never forget to valorize your child’s work. He comes to school to work and not to play. If you say that he goes to school to play, you are not respecting his work.

Do not forget to help your child to do things on his own at home, like for example: make his bed, fold his clothes, serve himself fruit juice, prepare small snacks made with fruits that he has learned to cut out, to peel, prepare small toasts…

For children who study at home, even for elementary classes, it is important to start off with exercises involving everyday life which will help your child to concentrate.

Montessori pliers

Next article: the use of pliers.

In previous articles, I introduced exercises involving the pouring of things, of order, the cure of the environment, my next article will involve the use of pliers.

Sylvie d’Esclaibes

This entry was posted in Athena Montessori International School, Dyslexia, dyspraxia, different children, Gifted children - School phobia - Inadapted to the traditional system -, Kindergarten, Lycée International Montessori, Montessori training, Pedagogical study, Primary, Teach your child, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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