Practical Life

Montessori Practical Life activities, aptly named, include all lessons which concern daily life.  They include care of the person, care of the environment, control of movement, and lessons of grace and courtesy. These are among the first activities that children begin when new to a Montessori school.  Preliminary Practical Life exercises such as learning how to roll a mat, and how to carry, scoop, pour, or open a variety of things lay the foundation for learning to follow.  Manipulation of small items strengthens fine motor skills, the handling of fragile items encourages careful control, and in most cases activities are presented in a top-to-bottom, left-to-right direction (that is, we start washing the table in the top left corner, and proceed methodically to the bottom right corner) which indirectly sets the stage for reading.

These activities are presented by the teacher with minimal narration and lack of superfluous action, as children watch carefully and imitate well, the goal is to not burden them with irrelevant details, but present them with the actions so that they may do it themselves in the future.  Montessori said: "Our task is to show how the action is done and at the same time destroy the possibility of imitation."

A thorough introduction to the Montessori practical life theory and activities can be found on the AMI Primary Guide page on practical life.  The following videos show first an overview of the practical life curriculum, then demonstrations of the presentation of two practical life activities.