How pouring liquids can help your child in his preparation to writing

French Montessori blog Lire en français

Montessori Shelves with exercise platters

Shelves with exercise platters

You can organize these exercises for your child between the ages of 18 months and 4 – 5 years old. The younger the child, the simplest the material must be. The child must be able to handle it easily. It must be light, stable, and it must not contain too much liquid so that your child can finish the exercise.

These exercises are to be presented on a tray that the child can handle. There is a hierarchy in the exercises. The best is to prepare several small platters, to display them on a shelf at child’s reach. Display them from easy to hard. Do not forget to use nice looking material that must be clean and attractive to the child.

Montessori material

Always use nice looking material

Do not forget that you must never put your child in difficulty. He must be able to do what you are suggesting. You must introduce only one difficulty at a time. The material must be nice, clean and make a complete set. You must try it before you ask your child to use it so that you can judge if he will be capable of using it.

Always present things from left to right

When presenting the exercise, do not talk too much. Your child must concentrate on the presentation and not the words that you are pronouncing which might distract him.

The presentation must always be from left to right and the material put back in its initial place so that the exercise can be redone immediately.

All these exercises must be an occasion to introduce new vocabulary and they must be varied often so that the child never gets bored.

Teach all the vocabulary

These exercises help develop the child’s concentration, his motor ability, his autonomy, his persistence, his coordination and order. They prepare your child to pour liquids correctly

In an indirect way, they are a preparation to writing.

Pour beans

Pour beans

The material must be made of:

– a platter, 2 equal size pitchers, and large size beans like beans or chick-peas.

Then, you can increase the difficulty by varying the beans. Use smaller beans like rice, lentils, semolina, or sand.

Pour smaller beans

You can also introduce new material like a funnel or a sieve.

The presentation must be done in the following way:

  • 1. Take the platter with two hands and slowly take it to the table.
  • 2. Set it on the table slowly and sit down.
  • 3. Show the pitcher containing the beans and show the spout from which the beans are going to fall out (this pitcher must be on the left side).
  • 4. Place the empty pitcher at the center of the table.
  • 5. With the thumb, the forefinger and the middle finger, (“the pliers”) take the pitcher containing the beans.

    Vary the containers

  • 6. Hold it until the spout is immediately over the empty pitcher without touching it (using the forefinger of the left hand to hold it).
  • 7. Lift the pitcher until the beans fall slowly into the center of the empty pitcher.
  • 8. When the last bean has fallen, set the pitcher slowly back on the platter.
  • 9. Pick up the beans that might have fallen on the platter, on the table or on the ground (this is the error control).
  • 10. Turn the platter so that the full pitcher is on the left.
  • 11. Repeat the exercise by pouring from pitcher to another.
  • 12. Put the two pitchers back on the platter in their place and verify that no bean is missing.
  • 13. Ask your child if he wants to do the exercise.
Pouring water

Once your child masters these exercises, you can introduce exercises that involve the pouring of water. Prepare a small sponge in a dish so that the child can clean the water that might have fallen on the tray, or the drops that might fall out of the pitcher’s spout.


Pouring water with a funnel

With these types of exercises (pouring water), you will prepare your child to hand writing, thanks to the muscular control and the coordination between the eye and the hand. You will also introduce him to the notions of weight and volume.

You will also be able to introduce variants:

1. Pour liquid from one pitcher to several graduated glasses where you have set a piece of scotch tape at the same height.

Pouring water into three little glasses.

You will make sure that you put the exact quantity of liquid into the pitcher to fill the three glasses properly. You can also color the water. With this exercise, you will prepare your child to the notion of division (divide a whole into several equal parts). You can also use a funnel.

  1. Use a bottle with a small opening
  2. Use colored waters with natural dyes and show your child what colors you obtain when mixing them (green is made with blue and yellow for example)
  3. Use a small dropper.

Pouring beans with a spoon

You can also prepare exercises involving pouring with a spoon.

The material will be made up of a platter, two small jars, a spoon, and some beans to start off with.

The presentation must be done in the following way:

  • 1. Take the platter with two jars, one filled with beans and the spoon.
  • 2. Place the platter at the center of the table.
  • 3. Take the spoon in your right hand and pour the beans into the other jar.
  • 4. When the first jar is empty, do the exercise the other way round.
  • 5. Ask the child if he wants to do the exercise.

Pouring small beans with a spoon

Let the child do the exercise on his own. He will notice his error if some beans fall on the table or on the ground or if there are left over beans in one of the jars.

Once more, the goals are: order, coordination, concentration, autonomy, and independence.

The child will learn concretely how to correctly hold a spoon. He will experience the sequence from left to right which is the sense used when writing. He will control his gesture, which is also a good apprehension of writing.

Adding difficulties

You will also be able to prepare variants to these exercises: use different types of spoons and beans, use marked cups, use a funnel. You can also have him sort out things.

Sort out and pour

 Children love these exercises. You know that because they play these games in their bath or during the summer on the beach when they repeatedly empty their buckets on the sand.


To prepare them for writing, these exercises are much more fun than drawing endless sticks or curls on paper… They are also great help to children who have problems with hand dexterity.

Next time, we will prepare exercises for the cure of the environment.

Sylvie Rousseau-d’Esclaibes.

This entry was posted in Athena Montessori International School, Kindergarten, Pedagogical study, Teach your child and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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