Practical Life

Product Reviews

Book Review: Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash

By Anitra

One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.


I’m here with another great book review!! I’m so excited about being able to review books from authors that I am not so familiar with, and that write amazing and interesting children’s books that have great content and story lines younger kids can relate to.  With that being said, this leads me to my next review of Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash.  It is written by entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan C. Fox.  Alan C. Fox is a successful New York Times bestselling author of numerous relationship books.  Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash is his first children’s book, and is based on a true story; his true story of how he grew a gigantic banana squash when he was younger!  Alan C. Fox is also the editor of a poetry journal called Rattle, and each year they publish a book of poems written by children.  For more information about Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash and Alan C. Fox, please click here.


Benji & The 24 Pound Squash


Benji & The 24 Pound Squash is about a boy that has been patiently ,(rather impatiently) waiting for the time to be right for him to plant his banana squash seeds.  When the time is finally right, Benji, with the help of his mom, go out and plant the seeds, water them, and cover them with dirt.  Poor Benji impatiently watches and waits for the seeds to sprout for weeks.  He goes to visit his garden daily until he sees a sprout, and in no time his seeds have grown into a giant banana squash…a 24 POUND squash!





I read this book to my class of preschoolers who range in age from three years old to six years old.  I read the book right before we talked about and carved our pumpkin.  After reading the book and then carving our pumpkin to examine and learn about the parts of the pumpkin, we discussed the seeds, and the process of growing a squash and a pumpkin.  This book tied in nicely with learning about pumpkins and the pumpkin life cycle theme we are doing!  It would also be great to tie in with spring time planting and growing of plants and vegetable as well.  I particularly enjoyed the ending of the book, where Benji and his family decided to cook and eat his giant banana squash.  The book does a great job tying in the concept of garden-to table.


       Here is our pumpkin and a small squash from my classroom.


Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash has bright, colorful illustrations and an overall great story.  I will definitely use this book in the future as part of many of my curriculum themes.  This book teaches children about the importance of care, patience, love, and perseverance!


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














Montessori Extras Themed Activities

Activities, books, & ideas for Apples/Fall unit study

By Anitra

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

With the first day of Fall approaching on Friday, September 22nd, I am gearing up to begin a two week unit study of Fall and apples with my classroom.  Although here in sunny Southern California, it is far from feeling or looking like Fall.  The hotter Summer temperatures have slowly started to subside, and we’ve seen cooler temperatures this week, but we are from fro Fall weather.  Even though the Southern California weather is not fall friendly, I still am excited to start our Fall and apple unit study.

For the next two weeks; starting Monday; I will teach the young children in my class about how our environment changes for Fall, different leaves, the parts of an apple, how apples grow, and the different types of apples.  We will have apple tasting, and vote for our favorite apples, examine the insides of an apple, make leaf rubbings, and an apple blossom tree…just to name a few!



There are many books out there that could go with the study of Fall and apples, but I have chosen to share with you my favorite three books.  I have used each of these books over the years, and have found that these cover many of the topics and areas that I teach rather well.


Top 3 favorite books for Fall and apple unit



A Day at the Apple Orchard


By: Megan Faulkner & Adam Krawesky

A Day at the Apple Orchard follows a group of children through the apple orchard.  They pick apples, taste them, and make juice & cider.  The book also describes the life cycle of an apple blossom tree, and shows the growth through the different seasons.  This book is great when teaching how apples grow, the proper way to pick apples, and things that can be made from apples. It also discusses why it is important to protect apple blossom trees for continued blossoms.


We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt

By: Steve Metzger

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt is a twist on the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  The children go on a hunt over the mountain, through the forest, around the waterfall, and across the lake.  Along the way, they find red oak leaves, hickory leaves, birch leaves, and maple leaves; until they encounter an unwanted guest!  This book teaches about different leaves, and is fun and entertaining!


Apples for Everyone

By: Jill Esbaum

Apples for Everyone has beautiful pictures that detail how apples grow, the different kinds of apples, talks about Johnny Appleseed, and discusses the history of apple trees.  This National Geographic Kids book has colorful and amazing photography that makes this book a favorite of mine.



I can’t wait to start our unit study of Fall and apples.  I have so many science, fine motor, art, language, and math activities planned for the next two weeks!


Want to follow along as we learn about Fall and apples?  Interested to see how our unit study unfolds?   Be sure to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for pictures of all of our activities and fun!!  I hope to see you there!










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!








Back 2 School Montessori Extras

Back 2 School-Routine and Schedule for Healthy Dental Habits

By Anitra

One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided for free to facilitate a review.

Back in 2005, I took a break from teaching.  I had been teaching for about 5 years, and felt a tad bit burnt out.  I decided to go back to school, only this time, I went a completely different path; I went to school to become a Dental Assist.  I learned quite a bit, and enjoyed my new found career.  Later that year, I was recommended and hired for a position as a Dental Assistant in a Pediatric Dental Office.  I had lucked out!  I had the best of both worlds; I could still interact with children, and use my new found skills as a Dental Assistant at the same time.  I enjoyed working as a Dental Assistant, but I was never as happy as I was when I had worked in a classroom.  So, long story short; I went back to teaching.  I have been consistently in a classroom ever since…


Every February, during National Children’s Dental Health Month, I do a two week unit on dental awareness, dental procedures, proper brushing techniques, and other oral hygiene topics.  I teach them all about their bay teeth; which are lettered from A to T and their adult teeth; which are numbered 1 to 32 (if you have your wisdom teeth).  The most important aspects of the dental awareness themes revolve around proper brushing techniques, how often to brush, flossing, and using mouth rinse.  With Back 2 School quickly approaching, I think that it is a great time for families to develop a oral hygiene routine and schedule.  I know, it’s a pain to have to come up with another routine and schedule with your already busy life.  Well you are in luck!  I will share my oral hygiene routine and schedule that I have developed just for busy families!  It’s the least I can do to make your Back 2 School transition an easy one!


Start the school year off on the right path with these

6 tips to develop healthy oral hygiene habits


1. Limit the amount of sugar your child eats.

I know, what child doesn’t love candy…or cupcakes..or cake…or ice cream?  I do, and I’m an adult!  It is easy to let your child eat sugary snacks, but in the long run, it is not healthy for their primary (baby) teeth or their permanent (adult) teeth.  As you know, sugar that sits on the teeth can cause decay, which leads to cavities; or as I call them SUGAR BUGS!!!


2. Have your child drink lots of water.

Water is important not just to your child’s oral health, but is important to the overall health of their entire body.  When your child is thirsty, try to encourage drinking water as often as possible over sugary beverages such as juice and soda.


3. Use toothpaste that has fluoride in it.

Fluoride is a mineral that can help reduce tooth decay.  It helps to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth.  A pea sized amount of toothpaste containing fluoride should be used for children three years and younger.  Using a mouth rinse that contains fluoride is also an added benefit.


4. Model proper brushing techniques.

A good motto to adhere to is 2 minutes, 2 times a day.The ideal brushing technique is to brush the molars (back teeth) on the tops of the teeth (the chewing surface) and make sure to get the inside and outside of them as well. For the front teeth, brushing in circles insures that you are brushing to the gum lines.


5. See a Dentist on a regular basis.

It is beneficial to see a Dentist twice a year to get regular cleanings, x-rays, and a check-up.  A Dentist may recommend more frequent visits if a child displays a tendency to build up plaque or is subject to tooth decay.


6. Set up a routine and schedule and try to follow it as closely as possible.

Having a routine and schedule for oral hygiene is the best way to ensure healthy habits.  Click below for your Back 2  School Oral Hygiene Routine and Schedule.




In order for you to develop a healthy oral hygiene routine and schedule, you will need the necessary items to assist you.



  • Man yourself with the proper tools

The toothbrush is the most important tool in ensuring a good cleaning between visits to a Dentist.   I recommend and have recently used a great toothbrush from mouthwatchersMouthwatchers is a toothbrush company that has a line of manual and power toothbrushes. They are very reasonably priced, and have an option of purchasing single or yearly toothbrushes.


I have a youth and an adult manual toothbrush.  The soft bristles are gentle on my gums, and there are two sets of bristles for an even better brush.  I used the youth toothbrush to reach my wisdom teeth and molars in the back, and it left them feeling clean like I had just left the Dentist!  I used the adult toothbrush for all of my other teeth; my incisors and canines.  Overall, both toothbrushes left my teeth feeling extra clean, and I will definitely be investing in more mouthwatchers in the future!  For even more great products, go to mouthwatchers.com




Combining the above tips with a good, quality toothbrush, added with a daily routine and schedule, will put your child on the right path to developing healthy oral hygiene habits early on.  It may be beneficial for parents of young children to assist them with the brushing, as it may be difficult for children to brush their teeth by themselves.


Enjoy this post?  Be on the look out for more Back 2 School posts for the month of August.





































Back 2 School Montessori Extras

5 Tips to Ensure Your Child Success in Preschool

By Anitra

It is definitely that time of year again…the start of another school year.  The time of year when children start to leave my classroom, and I start to get new children…It is a sad time of the year to see many of the children leave who have been with me for two, sometimes three years; but it is also an exciting time where you are anxious to get to know and love your new little friends!  It may sound cheesy, but I hold a special place in my heart for the children that have been in my classroom over the years.  I keep in contact with quite a few of their parents as well; as they have become my friends and I ask about their children often!

Parents choose to put their children in preschool for many reasons.  The reasons can range anywhere from building their social skills, to develop growth in language skills, to promoting growth in maturity.  The same came be said for why parents choose Montessori as well; and for more specific reasons.  The reasons why parents choose to put their children in a Montessori school are because it is an environment that promotes self care, care for others, independence, and communication skills.  The Montessori environment is a structured, yet loving place where children enjoy being a part of a community, take pride in their independence, and are involved in their learning.

It is the job of the Montessori teacher to teach, guide, and encourage the growth in the whole child.  The whole child is independent, is a natural learner, and is willing to take on care of themselves, the environment, and their peers.  Although the Montessori teacher is there to assist in developing the growth of the whole child, the parents are just as important to this process.  There are things that parents can do to prepare their children for entry into a Montessori classroom.

I get it…it’s hard for parents to come to terms with the children may no longer be “babies” and that they don’t want them to grow up so fast…Trust me, I know how it feels from both sides of the fence; as a mother and as a teacher.  But  PLEASE listen to me when I say, that you are doing your children a HUGE disservice when you do everything for them, linger around the classroom, call the school all day long, and hide out in the parking lot watching to make sure your child is doing ok!!!!! Yes, this actually happens…All. The. Time.  Please understand that if you trusted the school and teachers enough to enroll your child, please trust us enough to let us do the job you are paying us for…Ok, sorry. Rant over.  Some of the tips may seem obvious, while others you may have not even thought of.


Here are 5 Tips for Preparing Your Child for Preschool


1. Please DON’T stay too long at drop off time.

I understand that you may be nervous if it is your child’s first school experience.  But staying too long makes your child get comfortable with the idea that you will be staying with them all day.  It also makes it difficult for them to want to go explore the classroom and engage with the other children.

DO practice the motto, “short drop off, long pick up”.  Make pick up time a longer, engaging experience.  Trust me, most times when it’s time to go home, they don’t want to go!  It happens all the time.


2. Please DON’T leave without saying goodbye.

Of course it is important to practice the motto, “short drop off, long pick up:.  But never just leave without saying goodbye to your child.  It may cause feelings of abandonment, and make them feel as if the school and classroom are not a safe place.  Even if they are crying and sad, still say goodbye to them and leave promptly.

DO give them a hug and even a kiss goodbye, and encourage them to have a fun or good day while at school.  You can also add that you will be back as soon as you’re done at work.


3. Please DON’T say goodbye; leave the classroom or playground, and them come back.

This is a very common thing parents do.  It is very disturbing to your child, especially if they have calmed down and are otherwise distracted.  To see you come back, gives them the impression that they are leaving, and once you leave out again, the entire episode starts again…only this time it’s WORSE!

DO remember, once you say goodbye and leave, you mustn’t return…under no circumstances.   It is very hard; not only on your child; but on the teachers who have to find a way to calm and comfort your child.


**Number 4 is especially important in a Montessori environment.**

4. Please DON’T enable your child by doing everything for them.

By this, I am referring to self care activities that they can do themselves.  From an early age, please remember that your child is more capable of doing things for themselves than you give them credit for.  All they need is the opportunity.  I have parents ask me all the time, “They pour their own water and milk”.  The answer is yes.  If i didn’t teach them from the first day they start, all I would do all day is pour water and milk! I wouldn’t have a chance to do anything else.  It is not going to hurt them if they are able to do things themselves.

Making her own snack


DO provide opportunities for your child to care for themselves.  A few examples are to have them dress themselves, help clean up after they eat, pick out their clothes, feed themselves, serve themselves snack, or let them help you cook.  You’d be amazed at what your child is capable of, if they are given the chance!  Some of these activities can be introduced as early as two years old.



Helping to make fresh bread


Putting on shoes independently


5. Please DON’T discuss starting school with your child too much before they actually start.

I have gotten feedback over the years from many parents that informed me that the month before their child started school they were excited to go.  But by the time it was their start date, they would either push back the start date or not enroll at all.  I found that talking about starting school too much actually causes anxiety and has the opposite effect on a child, making them not want to experience going to school.

DO discuss with your child that they will be starting school.  Do so often, but not so often that they lose interest in wanting to go.  Casually mention it here and there to them, and if they start to develop signs of anxiety or nervousness, end the conversation.  You can always try talking to them about it at another time.


Following these tips can make your child’s transition (and yours), to a Montessori school an easier one.  By following a few; or all of these tips may even cause a teacher thank you!









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!


-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!





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.







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!


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









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”!