Practical Life

Brass Polishing

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I was asked recently what is grass polishing.  It took me a few minutes to realize the child was asking about BRASS polishing!  We have many objects to polish on the shelf and the child picks one and takes it to a table.  After he/she puts an apron on, they carry a tray to a table with the items they need to polish as well as a mat.

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The child dips the stick (with cotton on the end) into the brass polish (lemon juice and baking soda) and rubs it onto the object. After the polish is applied, the brass is buffed with a cloth. There is a visual control of error, the child is able to see if there are any spots that were not polished.

This provides for the development of hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, concentration and independence.

Face Washing

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Face Washing
This is a new work we introduced this week.  This is in our practical life area as it teaches the children a practical skill.  Most of the children have asked for a lesson with this work.

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First the child fills up the pitcher with warm water and brings it to the table. She then pours water into the basin and dips in the washcloth.

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After the face has been moistened, she will then put soap on the washcloth.

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Wash. Rinse. Dry face with white cloth and throw away.

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After the usually smiling face is checked in the mirror, the child will empty the water into the bucket under the table. The bucket is carried into the bathroom and emptied into the sink.

This not only gives the child a way to become more independent, it helps build the ability to organize as it contains multi-step directions.

More Sewing!

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We love to sew! We have now moved on to sewing around shapes instead of straight lines. The children are really enjoying this activity as you may see in their backpack today!

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One child accidentally sewed two together at the same time and was very surprised at this error. In making lemonade out of lemons she said, “I will give this to my brother and he can use it as a puppet!” She stuck her finger in the middle and then went on to make another finger puppet! (Very Julia Child- who was also a Montessori child!)

Dishwashing

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After snack (or lunch) the children wash their dishes. (We wash them in a dishwasher later in the afternoon after the children leave.) Step one is to take the dish to the sink, scrape off the uneaten food and scrub the dish with the brush.

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Step two is to rinse in the rinsing sink. (One child commented today about his “experiment”- “I found if you put the dish in the rinsing sink lightly, it will float (see last year’s post on Sink/Float) and if you push it down hard it sinks!”

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Step three is to put it in the drying rack.

This is a great activity for practical life as well as organizing our brain by completing multistep tasks!

Cutting

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Do you open your child’s backpack on Friday afternoon and wonder why there are so many envelopes filled with little tiny snips of paper? Well, this is cutting work! So many children are working on this skill right now that there is hardly a time in the morning when the scissors are available! We have scissors and cutting strips available and also different shapes for more advanced cutters. This pair of scissors is actually a beginning pair that is really easy to use for children who have a hard time mastering the standard child-sized pair. They are called My First Scissors by Faber-Castell. In our lesson on cutting we show the child how to put their thumb on top and the other fingers on the bottom. Holding the paper in the opposite hand, you place it inside the blade and push down with the thumb. Voila! They spring open once you let go and your cut paper falls to the table. The children love to fill up their envelopes to take home. Many children comment that these will be presents to their parents! Enjoy the snips!

Shoe Polishing

We are polishing a shoe in school!

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Step 1 is to get the polish from a teacher and put it on the applicator brush. Step 2 is to brush the polish in with a different brush. Step 3 is to shine it with a lambswool buffer.

Dr. Montessori thought it was important that children do purposeful activities. She advised teachers to include in their classrooms “objects which are designed through their use to achieve some definite purpose..objects which invite the child to do something, to carry out a real piece of work having a practical goal to be aimed at.” The Discovery of the Child p. 77.

Folding- Care of the Environment

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Some of the children have been busy learning how to care for the environment.  One example of this is folding the blue cloths we use to mop up various water spills.  In the mornings, we bring the clean laundry and put it on a table.  Several of the children have noticed it when they arrive and once given a lesson on how to fold a cloth, they are off.

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Several children are now looking for this as soon as they enter the classroom.  We do not mention that they need to be folded.  The cloths sit on a table and the children notice them on their own.

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The children were heard this morning talking to each other saying, “Did you see those cloths!  We can fold!!”

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They create piles of blue cloths and then take turns placing them in the classroom on the shelves and then in the cabinet where they are stored.  It is a delight to see the children caring for their environment in this way.

If you have laundry that needs to be folded, take a week to show your child how to fold shirts.  The next week can be towels etc..  After they are done folding, they may want to help put the clean clothes away.

Sewing a Pillow!

As the end of the year approaches, we wanted the children to use their developing sewing skills to make a pillow.  By doing this they create something to treasure and take home.  We began with giving the children a choice of fabric.  The fabric was colorful and fun.  We also used hoops to steady the material so the children would have to do less work with the non-dominant hand.

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The children sewed in a straight line along the penciled line.  We demonstrated how to hold the hoop steady and use the dominant hand (mostly right hands for this group) to do the work.  Some had a little trouble at first not looping the thread around the hoop.  With a few demonstrations, the children were able to hold the hoop and sew along the line.  We showed them how to use the tip of the needle to find the line and poke it up.

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After the child has sewn on the line they turn the pillow inside out and begin to stuff.

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We had them pull the stuffing off in little bits and put into the pillow.

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We then sewed the hole closed which was a little difficult as we did not use a hoop.  There was also no drawn pencil line on the fabric as this was the side that was shown. (For this fabric we sewed along one of the lines that was already there.)

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Voila!

A completed pillow!  This was so exciting for the children.

Making Salad Dressing

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In our food preparation area, we introduced the children to salad dressing. They were very excited about trying to make it on their own. Into the bowl, we shook olive oil from a bottle and then added lemon juice in equal amounts. The children then added a bit of brown sugar and used the whisk. They have used this tool in the past so they were able to whisk without assistance.

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After the dressing was whisked, we added home grown tender spinach leaves to the bowl and “tossed.”

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We used tongs (again, another tool they have used in the past and are able to use independently now) to transfer the salad to the bowl for eating.

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The children then ate the salad. We were once again surprised to see how many children ate their own spinach salad. It is wonderful to see these children eating healthy food!

Yarn Wrapping

As another fine motor activity, we decided to present yarn wrapping. The children will experience this activity again in the Fall when we study apples and pumpkins. The children first choose what color yarn they would like to use and also a pipe cleaner.

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Then they wrapped the yarn around a small piece of cardboard. This was challenging for some as it requires them to hold one hand steady and wrap the yarn with the other hand. The yarn has to be easily pulled through the wrapping hand.

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When they were done wrapping we slid the pipe cleaner down through the middle and removed the cardboard.

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The children pulled up the pipecleaner and twisted it to form a little ball.

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Some children loved this activity and repeated it many times. The concentration demonstrated during this task was amazing. Montessori practical life activities provide many opportunities for children to develop their ability to concentrate.