“Practical Life” is a huge area of the Montessori Curriculum. It’s about giving children opportunities to engage in real everyday activities such as taking care of themselves and their surroundings, preparing food, cleaning up etc. Real. Life. Stuff.
Many Montessori teachers call their fine motor activities Practical Life activities. I think of them more as preliminary activities. The activities we create for refining fine motor development are mainly to support the child’s ability to engage in actual real life activities. As the child uses these skills in the context of real life activities, she fully integrates her senses, her coordination, her sense of order, her concentration and level of independence. These experiences lay the foundation for further more advanced academic work.
There is a lot that can be said about the details of how to prepare a fine motor activity using Montessori principles. But today I thought I’d share with you some pictures of how our fine motor shelves look through the course of a year.
I personally enjoy changing out the materials and bringing in a variety of ways to practice a particular skill. However, this is not at all necessary, specially if you’re homeschooling! Once your child has mastered a particular skill, there is no need to keep putting it on the shelf. Move her along to more complex activities where she can use that skill in a broader context. When you’re in a classroom and dealing with a wide range of abilities, it is helpful to have some essentials available for the younger ones to practice with.
There are a wide variety of fine motor activities that are appropriate for young children. The shelves below contain activities for practicing the following skills:
- Pouring: stability and rotation of the wrist
- Squeezing: developing hand strength
- Spooning: developing a 3-finger grip and wrist control
Click the images below to go to the actual post which has close up images of the activities on the shelves.
Getting Your Supplies Organized
I have a post from 2013 that outlines how I store my fine motor and practical life supplies.
Sort by theme and color
Store miniatures in tool drawers
Utensil organizers are great for fine motor implements like tongs, spoons, basters, etc.
Rotating Activities Throughout the Year
At the beginning of the school year
Start introducing breakable items and draw attention to their fragility.
This adds an extra layer of motivation to control movements.
Wait, what happened here?! I forgot to take a picture of the completed shelf :-/
But check out photos of the activities for February here
April or around Easter
More Fine Motor Shelf Themes
Of course, you’re not limited to seasonal themes. Sometimes I’m in the mood for changing up the shelves to coordinate with our unit studies.
Click the images for details. (Affiliate links may be included in this post. See full disclosures here.)