It is December, the last month of the year 2021. We hope your year has been going well so far. This week we will talk about ideas that will give your practical life area a refresher just in time for the new year.
Control of Movement
An important focus of the Practical Life area of the classroom is control of movement. Control of movement has two parts: gross motor and fine motor. Gross motor relates to the Montessori topics of caring for the environment as well as various lessons in the classroom such as walking the line and the setting up of various works in the sensorial area of the classroom.
Fine motor control and movement is deeply related to the lessons in the practical life area of the classroom. Through the use of various tools, children must learn the important skills of grasping, pinching, twisting, squeezing and more to be successful in this area of the classroom. Most commonly, these tools are used to practice transferring solid objects of different sizes, such as grains of rice and beans. Let’s go through one of the most common transferring tools, tongs, and talk about why they are important for the classroom.
Adding tongs to the practical life shelf helps children
practice their gross motor and fine motor skills. Children must learn how to grasp and squeeze the tongs in order to successfully grab an item, such as a bean or bead and move it to the next container or bowl.
This work strengthens the hand, builds coordination, lengthens focus and repetition, and provides opportunities for children to practice crossing the midline. Tongs can come in all shapes and sizes and can be matched to the object being transferred. For example, if you have pom poms or larger beads, circular tongs are the best tool for the job. Meanwhile, metal tongs that vary in shape, size and opening direction can add variety and new interest to a popular work that has been on the shelf all year.
When setting up the practical life shelf, adding a variety of difficulty is important. While transferring with tongs works should be accessible to all students in the classroom, adding wooden tongs or chopsticks can add some complexity to the task at hand. Adding both simpler transferring work and trickier transferring work helps all children find an interesting work on the practical life shelf that speaks to their needs.
And while it seems obvious, make sure as a teacher to always test the new tong or tool when setting up a new work for the practical life shelf. The tongs added to a work should make transferring the objects between the two containers challenging and accomplishable. Sometimes with the rush of classroom work set up, the wrong tool won't be discovered until a child uses it for the first time, so feel free to invite a child to help you with the testing process as well.
This week’s newsletter helps small hands practice another important fine motor skill, using scissors. These colorful cutting strips are the perfect addition to add scissor practice into your classroom.