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July 14, 2022

Practical Life Hack - Toddler Measuring Made Easy

Over the last several months, Teddy has finally becoming more and more interested in participating in practical life activities around the house. I know it doesn't really matter and comparing children is a useless practice, but he has been a little slower to show interest than Gus or Nora were. So, it's been fun to finally have him join in to some of our favorite practical activities. But, the thing about Teddy is that once he gets started in a particular practical life work that he enjoys, he has a lot of difficulty stopping. 

This makes complete sense. Maria Montessori was very clear about a child's need to repeat work that they are called to do. Children, especially children in the first plane of development, are called to repeat things an uncertain number of times. The number of times they need to repeat is determined by their inner life - something we cannot know or understand. As the prepared adult we need to know that the repetition is purposeful, meaningful, and will eventually stop. 

"The aim of his work is the working, and when in his repetition of an exercise he brings it to an end, this end is independent of external factors... his work is the satisfaction of an inner need..." Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood


When it comes to most practical life activities, repeating to your heart's desire isn't a problem. I don't care if you want to wash the windows six times in a row. But, that's not necessarily true when you're cooking in the kitchen. Turns out that recipe is a little bit important! Ha! Or, we can't cook the entire bag of rice in one sitting. So, we've been using this simple trick to allow for repetition but also still get close to the recipe we need. 

And the one change we've made? Scoop ingredients into a batter bowl! Instead of pre-measuring ingredients (where they get to pour once) or trying to measure for real in a measuring cup (and only pouring once or twice) a batter bowl doubles as a measuring cup. Let your toddler use a smaller scoop and repeat for a much longer time. 

This way you can see how much has been measured without needing to stop all that purposeful work. Now, eventually it will reach your desired amount, but hopefully by that point, your toddler has gotten enough repetition to satisfy their urge for now. It's a simple change that can help to avoid big feelings about stopping fun work too soon, and an easy way to help your toddler practically help in the kitchen! 
A simple change for practical life work in the kitchen with Montessori toddlers that allows for repetition and less big feelings


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Anonymous said…
I’ve run into a similar challenge with my son. When we cook, I use a smaller measuring device than the recipe calls for with my two year old. If the recipe calls for one cup, we may do two half cups or four quarters. He gets to do extra scooping and pouring and we can do some practical counting which he recently has been showing an interest in.