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Entries in Montessori Practical Life Exercise (9)


Tea Cup Matching

This lovely place-setting excercise is a great Sensorial precursor to a Practical Life tea-serving activity.












Developmental Aims:

  1. Sharpen visual discrimination of gradations of size in series
  2. Develop visual discrimination of colors and patterns in sets 
  3. Develop fine muscle coordination through careful manipulation of small porcelain objects
  4. Develop sense of order, concentration, and independence

(Activity displayed at a PNMA Spring Sharing Fair in Seattle, WA)


Tasting Olive Oil

What a great idea! Sylvia Muccillo, owner of Peachtree City Montessori School says, "Just wanted to share...we just added this olive oil tasting activity in our Practical Life area...the children love it!"

 The tray shown on the shelf: (ready to carry)

  1. Bread container with lid
  2. Jigger glass with a control line for pouring olive oil
  3. Small see-through glass pitcher with olive oil
  4. Plate with small tongs for picking up bread
  5. Rimmed container for olive oil dipping 


The tray shown on the table: (ready to taste)


Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a simple Valentine's Day sewing activity for your Practical Life area.

Simple modification for the children: Glue a few cloth heart shapes together and sew a button in the center. (Too many felt pieces glued together makes it difficult to pull the needle through.) Then use a safety pin to wear on shirt or dress...SWEET!


A Boy and his Tea Set

Daphnea Solomon, owner/director of Children's House Montessori - Tupelo, sent us this priceless photo of her son, now a teenager... From the archives of the Solomon Montessori Home:


"Hayden serving up some hot (warm) tea to mama and then himself from his glass tea set. As you can see, 'every boy NEEDS a glass tea set'! This was the summer before kindergarten. I think he was covered in mud from head to toe about an hour after this picture. He's a well rounded kid, I have to say!"

So what are all the benefits?

Grace, Poise, Courtesy, Concentration, Hand-eye Coordination, Refinement of Movement (gentle hands), Balance (carrying), Confidence, Self Control, Respect, Independence, Appreciation for Beauty, Order, Responsiblity...

The Joy of Serving Others!



Side note: If you are planning to provide a tea set at home or in the classroom, NO PLASTICS! Glassware or porcelain is essential.



Coconut Puffs!

UMA attended the PNMA Sharing Fair on April 30th at the beautiful Cedar River Montessori School in Renton, WA. There were many fun and creative ideas shared by Montessorians from around the greater Seattle area. Here is one entitled "Cocounut Puffs" by Fances Mead of Sunnyside Montessori in Seattle (Columbia City).  


  • To push the puffs into half-coconut shell through the "eye" of the shell
  • Develop eye/hand coordination
  • Stengthen hands
  • Practice concentration
  • Enjoy the beauty and touch of the coconut shell


  • Half a coconut shell (coconuts at some grocery stores are scored - these are easier)
  • After you have cut it in half, choose the half that has the eye(s); open one eye with a pointed knife, taking care to not make the hole too wide (you can widen it later if need be)
  • Puffs, about a dozen, made from yarn; wrap yarn around 2 fingers several times, tie in the middle, cut joined ends (should be somewhat challenging to work them into eye…they get fuzzier with use)
  • Coconut and Puffs may be arranged on a woven plate or tray 


  1. Take out the Coconut Puff Work and take it to the table
  2. Say, "This is the Coconut Puff Work"
  3. Take the puffs up one by one; twist and poke each into the eye of the coconut
  4. When all the puffs have disappeared, lift the coconut and show all the puffs, stacked in a colorful pile

Essential Movements

    Twisting puffs into eye of coconut



Crayon Sharpening Exercise

Kelly Mannning of Horseshoe, North Carolina shares her original project for her UMA Practical Life assignment. 


  1. Large Tray
  2. Smaller tray holding: 
    • 3 different colored large crayons with marked lines (permanent marker used)
    • 1/2" painters brush
    • Small folded cardstock "dustpan" (for picking up spilled shavings)
  3. Small bowl holding large-holed pencil sharpener
  4. 3 small jars, marked with colored sticker to match crayon color

Point of Interest:

  1. Colors of crayons
  2. Creating shavings
  3. Seeing the colorful shavings inside the glass 

Control of Error:

  1. Black line on crayon
  2. Colored sticker on jar
  3. See-through glass jar to view the color of the shavings


  1. Order of procedure
  2. Decision making
  3. Hand-eye coordination
  4. Fine –muscle skill
  5. Building upon prior work of opening jar lids
  6. Building upon prior work of sweeping
  7. Independence with skill of sharpening writing/drawing apparatus
  8. Concentration
  9. Self confidence
  10. Satisfactory and appealing work cycle
  11. Indirect Language: left to right movement
  12. Indirect Sensorial: color recognition/matching

What I learned from creating this original project:

I shopped around trying to find a pencil sharpener with a clear container so the child could see the color of shavings more clearly, but I was unable to find one.  Also, it may take several tries to find a sharpener that will sharpen the crayon easily and not cause the tip of the crayon to break off in the sharpener- that could be very frustrating and we don’t want children putting their fingers in the sharpener.  From my trials, it seems that when you can place the crayon straight into sharpener it rarely, and for me, never broke off.  It takes a lot of working the process through to make sure that the work cycle is successful.  I also found that the sharpener had to have enough empty space around the actual blade and the side of the container that holds the shavings so that the shavings could fall down off the blade easily.

 What I learned from demonstrating this activity:

I learned about the importance of emphasizing and slowing down each step of the exercise.  I have to take a breath and wait for those spaces of time to let her take in the enticement of the activity.  I had to work out the work cycle many times before I showed her so that the demonstration would go smoothly.  It is surprising how much thought has to go into all the steps to clearly and simply achieve the desired results. 

What I learned from the child's responseEven though this seems like a simple activity, it was very appealing to my almost 6 year old daughter.  Since I demonstrated this to my own child, she saw some of the process of creating this work she and was completely drawn to it.  I would leave it on my worktable and she would come and tear the paper of new crayons and prepare them by marking them with the black line.  Once I came back to it and she had the whole pack of crayons ready to go!  I didn’t expect her level of interest and participation.   We enjoyed a lot of conversation about how wax works and melts during our extension exercises. I am truly understanding the value of the many steps in a single piece of work and how challenging it is for the child to think through the steps to complete the whole process.  There is a lot of reasoning skills that the child is faced with.

Final note:

Because she is older, we went on to some extension crafts that she really enjoyed.  First we placed shavings on contact paper and then she learned how to peel and stick the two together.  We also melted some shavings in between two pieces of wax paper with an iron and when cool she cut them into shapes of leaves that we had previously collected.  

Thanks for sharing, Kelly!


Making Guacamole

A very clever and adorable "Montessori moment!" Christina demonstrating to her 4-year-old cousin, Sammy, how to make no-tears guacamole. Thanks to Thelma Reindollar of Reno, NV for sharing.


Practical Life: Felt Sushi

Looks good enough to eat!

Here is a more advanced Chopsticks Exercise, displayed at the PNMA Spring Sharing Fair in Seattle, created by Laura Possinger. The "sushi" looks lovely on the wooden plate which is on top of the bambo mat. Other items include chopsticks and chopsticks rest below the plate. The "soy sauce" dish is placed at the top right of the plate. 

Command cards may be used to set up different plates or simply to identify the varieties. A child can even fill orders for their friends!

These "sushi" patterns and instructions are available via email at this website: (search word: "sushi")



Eat Your Noodles With Chopsticks

A Practical Life -Transferring Exercise. 
Contributed by UMA student - Jaisri Gangadharan of Seattle, WA

Thank you Jaisri!