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One of the major areas in Montessori education, I am learning, is the practical life area. As the name implies, practical life activities involve the child in carrying out the tasks of daily living. The goals of practical life exercises are to help the child develop motor coordination and control and to be able to do everyday tasks independently.
Note: For more activities that use Montessori principles in the home, see my Montessori Activities page.
Because I have the kids at home with me so much, I am able to turn lots of everyday activities into practical life exercises for the kids. Here are nine practical life activities involving food that my kids have done as part of our daily routine.
1. Peeling an egg
I got this idea from the Montessori at Home! e-book by John Bowman. The book had a link to a video of a young child totally engaged in peeling an egg. Since my kids eat hardboiled eggs at least twice a week, seeing the video was a light bulb moment for me. The next morning, I invited the kids to peel their own eggs – and they loved it! Now they insist on peeling their own eggs every time we eat hard boiled eggs. It is so fun to watch their skills improve as they do this task over and over.
2. Scooping watermelon
We’ve been enjoying lots of watermelon this summer. Usually I do the cutting and serving, but on this day I brought the watermelon outside along with a spoon, a plate, and a large chunk of watermelon for each kid. I demonstrated how to use the spoon to scoop watermelon. And then the kids took over from there!
They worked so hard until they had scraped every last bit of watermelon flesh from the rind. And then, of course, they enjoyed their yummy snack. 🙂
3. Using a can opener
One day when the kids were helping me in the kitchen, I invited XGirl to use the can opener. To be honest, this task was too challenging for her still developing motor skills. If your kids are older, they might be able to do this with more success.
4. Mixing batter
I’ve been cooking in the kitchen with the kids for over a year now, and they still love helping me mix batter. (I think one reason they enjoy this so much is because I usually let them lick the spoon when they are done :-).)
It used to be difficult for them to stir without making a mess, but their skills have improved so much that they can now do this task quite successfully most of the time.
5. Preparing a snack
I’m learning to be better about letting the kids help me with snack preparation. Ants on a log (celery, nut butter of your choice, and raisins) is a simple snack that kids can easily help with.
6. Washing fresh basil
We love to make our own pesto sauce. XGirl helped me to wash the leaves one day. I showed her how to tear the leaves off the stem and put them in the water.
7. Peeling a yam
We love to eat yams! QBoy is developing his motor control and was able to do a pretty decent job using the peeler to remove the skin from this yam.
8. Cleaning the table
After we eat, there’s always clean up to be done! Young kids love to help with the cleaning. XGirl is always eager to help wipe down our kitchen table.
9. Sweeping the floor
I am really looking forward to the day when my kids can eat without making a mess of the floor! 🙂 But in the meantime, the kids love taking a dustpan and small broom to clean up the crumbs.
These are just some of the practical life activities involving food that my kids have done. I’m thankful to Montessori for opening my eyes to the all the learning that these activities provide for young kids. Of course I could do a better or faster job if I did these tasks myself. But instead of thinking of them as chores that need to be done quickly, I think of them as opportunities for my kids and I to work together.
More Montessori resources
More Montessori posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Apple Montessori activities
- Ocean Montessori activities
- Farm Montessori activities
- Winter Montessori activities
- Valentine Montessori activities
- Easter Montessori activities
- 4th of July Montessori activities
- Halloween Montessori activities
- Montessori caves unit
- Montessori mapping activities
- Montessori living / nonliving / once living activities
- Montessori printables