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Practical Life

Practical Life Product Reviews

Color Mixing Activity-a Montessori Services product review

By Anitra

I received a free product from Montessori Services valued under $50 to provide an honest review of this product.  All opinions expressed are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links, please see disclosure policy for more information.

Over the years, I have ordered various Montessori materials and supplies from Montessori Services for my classroom. They have a great selection of products for your classroom, and if you are a parent interested in implementing Montessori materials and Methods at home, For Small Hands has great products as well.  They have a large selection of Montessori materials and products, from the traditional areas of a Montessori classroom; like Practical Life, Language, and Math; to supplemental products such as books, music & movement and art.   I have in the past constructed a color mixing activity as a Practical Life work in my classroom, so I was more than excited when I received the Color Mixing Activity Set from Montessori Services!

 

The Work:

Color Mixing Activity Item # Y30The Color Mixing Activity Set Item# Y30

Includes: (everything is pictured below)

(Photo courtesy of Montessori Services, used by permission)

 

 

Set Up and Steps:

The setup:

Using the Presentation Suggestions, I prepared the work as instructed.  I filled the clear glass bottles with water up to the neck of the bottle.  I added a few drops of red, blue, and yellow food coloring into each glass bottle, put the caps on, and shook up.  Next, I set up the tray as instructed; following the Presentation Suggestions.

 

 

After I gave the initial lesson to the children in circle time, it was then available for them to use.  During the initial lesson, I reviewed how to use an eye dropper.  Here is one of my older friends completing the Color Mixing Activity step by step.

 

Get an apron.  I prefer to provide aprons for the children in my class to use when they do water works.  It is a personal preference, and it not mandatory.

 

Next, here she is using the eye dropper to mix red and yellow.  Using the tiny spoon, she mixed up both colors and got orange.

 

 

Next up, she used the eye droppers to mix red and blue together, getting purple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, she used the eyedroppers to mix yellow and blue, getting green

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fourth small bowl is used for experimenting.  She chose to make purple again, since it is her favorite color!

 

 

 

 

 The Clean Up:

Pour all of the contents from each of the small glass bowls into the larger glass bowl.

 

 

Use the sponge to wipe out each of the small glass bowls, and the tray, if needed.

 

 

Pour out contents of the larger glass bowl.  Using the sponge, wipe it clean.  The work is complete!

 

                   

 

This work was so fun!  I had fun introducing it, and the children had a blast using it.  It was SO popular, I had to limit the number of times they could do it today.  I had quite a few friends cry that they were not able to do this work today, as we ran out of time during Montessori Work Time!  I really liked how EVERYTHING that I needed came with the work.  I didn’t have to purchase anything else to go with it; (I already had the aprons), and the convenience of that is a huge time and money saver.  The work is durable, and I like that most of the items used in the work are glass.  If you’ve been following my other posts, you know how much of a fan I am of using glass in my classroom.  This complete Color Mixing Activity is a good work for use in a classroom, home school, or for a parent looking to incorporate Montessori materials in their home!

I hope that you enjoy this work as much as my class and I did!

Anitra

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Practical Life

Practical Life Extension: Bubble Making!

By Anitra

For those who are unaware, the Practical Life area of a Montessori classroom is where children do their most learning, communicating, and exploring!  It is an area of the classroom bustling with murmurs, laughs, and on the other side; sheer concentration.  In the Practical Life area, you will find children pouring, spooning, scooping and using tongs and tweezers with dry items.  You will also find children pouring, sponging, ladling, and using a baster and eyedropper to transfer water.  In my classroom, you will also find children engaging in fresh orange juicing, banana slicing, and spreading jam on bread.  It is an area that is always changing, and always the center of all the action…it’s an amazing area, to say the least!

 

 

Over the years, I have added and discarded (to never be heard of again) many Practical Life exercises, that follow the natural development and interests of the children in my classroom.  I have introduced many Practical Life Extensions; that is; an expansion of or a addition to already existing traditional activities.  The Practical Life exercise I will describe is an extension of washing; bubble making.

 

Yes, that’s right, bubble making!  What kid, young or old, do you know that does not like making bubbles, chasing bubbles, catching bubbles…all things BUBBLES!!!  Think about it! This extension is one that I have used in my classroom for years, and quite frankly, it is a fan favorite.

 

Practical Life Extension: Bubble Making

 

All of the materials can be purchased very inexpensively, I constructed this activity and spent less than $10 total!

Materials:

-a bowl

-a whisk

-a sponge

-a towel

-some sort of measuring cup (with a line drawn on it to show water limit)

-an eye dropper with a glass bottle (for the soap) SIDE NOTE: add water to dish soap so that it is not so concentrated

-a washing bin to hold all of the materials

-aprons (optional) I use aprons for all of my water work activities

 

Instructions for bubble making:

 

Step one: Get a red apron

I have aprons in two colors.  Blue aprons are for water work activities, red aprons are for washing exercises.  When water work and washing activities are introduced, it is explained to the class the rules for each apron.

 

 

Step two: Get the bubble making work from the shelf and take it to a table.  Take the towel, sponge, and measuring cup out of the washing bin.  Take the measuring cup to the sink, and fill it with water up to the limit line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carefully pour the water in the bowl.

 

 

Step three: Add two drops of soap solution. Whisk!

And whisk some more!!!!

 

 

Step four: Pour out bubbles, use towel to dry out bowl, and sponge table if needed.

Step five: Return bubble making work to the shelf. Take off apron and hand it back up.

 

That’s it! Easy as pie, and just as good! Haha!  This is such a favorite work, that I have to limit it to a one time use per morning work time.  The children may do it once a day, and then may not do it again until the next day!  I also have to put a time restriction on the work as well; I have a mini sand timer that it used to limit their time using the work.  The timer starts once the soap solution has been added to the bowl.  If I don’t set limits on this work, I will have ONE child doing this exercise for the entire morning work period!

Bubble making aids in the development of critical thinking skills; by having to recall multiple steps/instructions in order.  It also aids in developing motor skills with using the eyedropper and using twisting wrist motions when using the whisk.

 

Adding something as simple as bubble making to your Practical Life area; whether it be in a classroom, home school, or for your child’s individual usage; can add quite a bit of fun to their day!

Anitra

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Classroom Content Practical Life

4 fine motor activities for fun and development

By Anitra

Fine motor development is an important skill that children will need in all aspects of their development.  Fine motor skills aid in the development of the small muscles in their hands, fingers, and thumbs.  The development of these skills help a child with correct pencil grip, writing; and such activities as buttoning, zipping, and tying.  From a young age, young children naturally use their whole hand to grasp, grab and pick up items.  Their small hands need practice developing dexterity and strength frequently.  There are many activities that can be introduced in your classroom or homeschool, and even during play time.  In a Montessori primary classroom, there are many areas that include the inclusion of fine motor activities.  In the Language area, there are the Metal Insets.  In the Math area, there is the one to ten hanging beads.  In the Sensorial area, there are the knobbed cylinders.  The most prominent area of the classroom where most fine motor activities are introduced is the Practical Life area.  The Practical Life area is an area where the teacher can use her creativity and personality to add activities to the classroom.  Most of the the other areas in a Montessori classroom have very specific work that is customary and standard.  There are some opportunities to add to other areas of the classroom, but in the Practical Life area, you can be as creative as you would like.  One of my favorite areas in a Montessori primary classroom is the Practical Life area.  I have integrated various activities in my Practical Life area over the years; I have added to my list of works, and have done away with a few as well.  The list of activities for the development of fine motor skills are currently activities in use in my classroom and are favorites of the children.  All of the items used in each of these activities use inexpensive items.

4 activities that promote fine motor development

 

1. Cutting practice

I have 4 cutting practice activities set up daily.  I use hot dog trays and matching scissors.  I have a cutting strip of either dotted or solid line in each tray along with an envelope.

Procedure: Select a tray, and cut along the lines.  Once all of the lines have been cut, they can put their cutting strips into the provided envelope, and it can be taken home.  The tray then gets returned to the shelf.  Throughout the morning work time, I just replenish the cutting strips and envelopes as needed.

 

2. Single hole punching

I have a basket of 3×3 squares of printer paper cut.  I then have 3 small bowls with a single whole puncher in them.

Procedure: Select a bowl, and get a  paper square.  Hole punch the paper over the bowl, and once complete, they empty the paper holes in the trash and can keep the paper with the holes in it.  The bowl is then returned to the shelf.

 

3. Tweezing peas   

I have a tray of peas, two small, clear bowls, and a pair of tweezers.

Procedure: A child will use the tweezers to transfer all of the peas from one bowl to the other.  This work actually takes patience, and it takes awhile to complete.  Sometimes the peas are a little hard to pick up, but I like that it adds a little difficulty to the work.

 

4. Pin Poking

A tray containing a giant push pin, a push pin pad, and a small bowl for the pin to sit in. This work is one of the favorites of the children!  When it is first introduced, I go over the importance of keeping the poking pin in the bowl when not in use, as well as how to properly use the pin poking so that no one gets hurt.

Procedure: There are two of each pin poking trays.  The children pick a paper with a shape to poke and once complete, they bring it to the teacher to help with getting the shape out.  This work can be fun; I use metal inset shapes, shapes related to various holidays, or pick things that go with what we are learning for the week.

 

The most important thing to remember is to develop and enforce safety rules and procedures while giving the lesson on each activity.  Also be sure that you reinforce the safety rules and procedures as well.  Each of these activities can be easily incorporated or even modified to fit into any classroom or homeschool.

Anitra

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Food Preparation Practical Life

The benefits of incorporating Food Preparation Work into your curriculum

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

Food Preparation, Food Prep, Food Work…it is all a way to provide an opportunity for children to “prepare” food for themselves.  I know that in many Montessori school classrooms, food work is not introduced or even offered to the children.  I remember that food work was a big part of my training, and I absolutely LOVE having food work as a part of my Practical Life Area.  Food work could include things like bread and jam, bread and butter, fresh orange juice making, banana slicing, egg slicing, nut cracking (providing there are no allergies), carrot peeling and slicing, cinnamon stick grating, apple slicing, spice grinding…the list could go on and on.  The objective of food work is to provide opportunities where children are putting to use their “practical life” skills, using their independence, and depending on the work, preparing food for others.

In the school that I am currently working in, I am one of the few teachers that has food work in their classroom.  It is a large task to choose appropriate food works to introduce into your classroom or homeschool.  It is wise to take into consideration food allergies of the children, as well as the developmental stages of each child.  For instance, nut cracking is a great food work to have in a Montessori environment.  Unfortunately, with many children having a severe allergic reaction to nuts, I can not introduce this food work into my classroom environment.  Other things to consider are your access to food items that you will need on a regular basis, shelf space, safety, and sanitary and cleanliness.

Over the years, I have narrowed down the long list of possible food work choices to just three; bread and jam, fresh orange juice making, and banana slicing.  I normally wait and introduce food works during the school year in January.  By then, we have been in school for about four months, and they have already been introduced to and have been working with the water works for at least a month or two.  Each food work is introduced separately, one at a time; in order from simple to complex.

A few things to consider when choosing the tools needed for successfully introducing and implementing food work into your classroom or homeschool.

-Choose tools/materials that are safe for the children to use.

-Try to make the steps and process of starting and completing the work as simple as possible.

-Keep the food works to at least three, but not more than five.  Too many choices makes it difficult to keep track of things such as cleanliness and proper use of the work.

Bread and jam

This is the first work that I introduce to the children.

Materials: inexpensive tray, sponge, plastic spreader, plastic bowl, inexpensive basket for bread and napkins.

Process: The children first get a napkin, and then a slice of bread and place it on the napkin.  They then take the tray to a table.  They use the spreader, spread jam on the bread, then eat.  Once done, they must wipe the spreader using the sponge, put their napkin in the trash, and return the work to the shelf.

Orange Juicing

Materials: inexpensive tray, juicer, bowl, sponge, basket for oranges

Process: The children put a half an orange in the bowl, then they get their glass cup with their name on it.  They then begin to juice their orange slice and drink the juice.  They must then go to the sink and wash out the juicer.  They then put their used orange in the trash, wipe sown the tray, and return it to the shelf.

Banana slicing

Materials: inexpensive tray, plastic cutting board, plastic slicer, sponge, bowl, basket for banana slices. (I precut a banana and place in the basket).

Process: The must get a napkin (next to the bread and jam work), choose a banana slice and place it on the cutting board. They go to the table, peel the banana, and place the peel in the napkin.  Wrap up and place aside.  They then slice the banana, placing the slices in the bowl.  Once done slicing, they eat the slices.  They must then wipe the slicer and cutting board, put napkin in trash, and replace work to shelf.

These works are fan favorites in my classroom, and could be a great addition to your Practical Life area.  I hope that I have inspired you to add food work to your classroom or homeschool!

Anitra

I must note that at the end of every day, I disinfect all of the food work materials.

 

 

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Practical Life

Simple ways to add Pizzazz to your Practical Life area

By Anitra

I still remember the first time I walked into a Primary Montessori classroom.  I loved EVERYTHING about it.  The work on the shelves were beautiful, the way the children worked so peacefully in groups and alone was mesmerizing, the way the classroom had a sense of calm about it, I knew that Montessori was something special…

One of my first and fondest memories is seeing the “Water Work” in the Practical Life area.  Water works are activities that are highly logical, contain a sequential chain of steps, and are a prerequisite to skills needed in the more challenging Math,  and Language areas of a Montessori classroom.

In that they are so important, I feel that the more inviting, fun, and enticing the water works are, the chances that the children will be engaged and excited about this area of the classroom increases significantly!  My water work area of the classroom is always busy; there is much discussion, laughter, and energy going on! I choose to enhance that area using clear or white trays, colored sponges, using food coloring in the water, and having a good variety of simple to complex activities for the children to do.

 

The works are in order from simple to complex; from left to right; top to bottom.  I have sponging from bowl to bowl; pouring with a large funnel with the same sized beekers; pouring with a medium funnel from a pitcher to a jar, basting from one to three bowls; and eye-dropping from a bowl to a skinny mouthed jar.

I mix up the colors of the sponges on each tray weekly; so that they children always feel as though the work is “new”.  I also, once a month, add a new sponge color that is not currently being used.  The children are always excited to see different colored sponges and to see the sponges “mixed up” from the week before!  It just gives that area new life every once in a while, and keeps it interesting and inviting.  Something so simple as a $1.99 box of food coloring, $1.00 plastic trays, $1.00 glass jars, bowls, pitchers and a $1.00 bag of sponges can bring such excitement and enthusiasm to an important part of a Montessori classroom!  Adding or making these simple and cost efficient changes to your school or homeschool classroom can add some pizazz to an ordinary Practical Life area.  I also don’t feel bad (and tell the children no to either), when one of the items breaks…I just say, “It costs a dollar, no worries”!

Anitra

 

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