How to set up a Practical Life shelf

How to set up a Practical Life shelf

Practical life is the most amazing shelf which requires teachers to create the activities to put on the shelf. Maria Montessori once observed that children sweeping floors, or watering the plants at home. These tasks proved to be so important to a child’s development that Montessori added an area of the Montessori classroom devoted to these activities, and she called it “Practical Life”.

This shelf within a Montessori classroom involves a spectrum of activities including basic exercises like pouring and spooning dry goods, care of the environment exercises like dusting and mopping, care of self exercises like hand washing and food preparation, and grace & courtesy like how to carry a chair and move your body with control and mindfulness.

The activities are much more than simply preparing the child to help around the house. The activities are about completing a work cycle and fine-tuning those little fingers and hands for writing, to name a few aims. All the practical life activities help to prepare a child for the other areas of the Montessori classroom.

The first step is purchasing suitable baskets and trays. Some activities such as pouring two jugs, for example, need to be placed on a tray.

The second step is to purchase the activities. We would advise purchasing activities such as pouring, transferring, opening and closing, cutting, threading, sewing, polishing, painting, laying a table, pegging (and many more!). It is important to look at the interests of your children as well as taking into account any cultural needs of the children, for example, an activity with chopsticks for any children who know how to use them.

The third step would be to arrange your activities in order from simple to complex. For example, the first pouring exercise would be pouring from one identical jug to another, you could start with dry pouring and then go onto wet pouring.

Finally, don’t forget about the child-sized mops, dustpan and brush, and the dressing frames!

Are you interested in learning more about Montessori? Our online Montessori course is perfect for anyone who has an interest in Montessori, therefore you don’t need any qualifications to apply. Find out more or contact our friendly team for more information.