Practical Life Exercises

In the Montessori classroom, young children are normally drawn first to the Practical Life area because these materials are most familiar to them.  The exercises of Practical Life have objects and materials normally encountered in everyday living experiences such as cleaning, sweeping, pouring, dressing, plant and animal care.  The exercises of Practical Life fall into four major categories: Care of the Self, Care of the Environment, Grace and Courtesy, and Control of Movement.  Many are fundamental exercises that the child needs to master to be able to live comfortably in the real world.

Practical Life activities help the child develop coordination, concentration, a sense of personal independence, and a sense of order.  Through the exercises of Practical Life, the child develops the self-confidence and attention essential for mastery of the other more advanced areas of the Montessori classroom.The creativity and imagination of the teacher will determine many of the activities in this area of the program.  The teacher keeps in mind that the main purpose of this work is the coordination of the senses, brain, and muscles.  The basic Practical Life exercises include, but are not limited to the following:

Care of The Person

  • Hand washing
  • Shoe polishing
  • Using a napkin
  • Packing and emptying a lunchbox
  • Blowing one’s nose
  • Dressing frames to learn how to button, buckle, snap, tie bows, and lace shoes

Hand Washing


Tying Shoes


Napkin Folding


 Care of the Environment

  • Squeezing a sponge
  • Washing a table
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Pouring grains, water, juice
  • Polishing brass or silver
  • Opening and closing doors
  • Washing and drying dishes
  • Arranging flowers
  • Using tools
  • Peeling and cutting vegetables and fruits
  • Using scissors

Nuts and Bolts


Using Chopsticks

Polishing Silver


 Grace and Courtesy

  • Greeting someone
  • Offering someone something
  • Making introductions
  • Manners at refreshment time
  • Acting as host
  • Passing objects politely
  • Shaking hands

Control of Movement

  • The Silence Game in which the children practice using their will power to make the silence
  • Walking the line or balance beam to practice body coordination and control

Control of Movement


Walking the Line