Part of our day involves the preschool children doing their “work”. Maria Montessori called school activities work because she considered play to be the work of children.
One type of work in our classroom is practical life. This area is unique to Montessori and is always very popular with our preschoolers. The shelves have trays that hold various activities including tongs, tweezers, screwdrivers, nuts and bolts, spoons, buttons, snaps, a child size broom or mop, dust pan, clothes pins, and more. The children take the tray of work to a desk, do the work, and return the tray to the shelf when the job is completed. The children build their fine motor while learning to care for themselves and their classroom environment.
The reason practical life activities are so important is that they help children develop order, concentration, coordination, and independence. By developing these qualities, the children and the learning environment are calmer, and learning is easier. These are also prerequisite skills to learning other things, like math and reading. We love to see the concentration on their faces as the children work!