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October 18, 2022

Montessori Practical Life - A Child's Drill

Offering opportunities for children to participate in practical tasks in the real world is probably one of the ways that Montessori is super unique to other parenting and educational methods. As Montessorians we know just how important it is for our children to have access to real and practical work throughout their days. It boosts confidence, builds fine motor skills, and sets the table for further academic learning. Practical life work really is all it claims to be! 

But it can sometimes be difficult to decide what types of practical life work you should introduce to your children. I try to keep two things in mind:

  • Relevance: ideally practical life work should be relevant to your child's life or your family's culture
  • Interest: what kinds of things is your child interested in helping or getting involved with

Hand Drill Activity for Montessori Toddlers

For Teddy, with our home renovation this summer and fall what is relevant and of interest - all things tools, building, or workers. He has gotten to sit and watch all sorts of tradespeople working and creating our new spaces. He has wanted to get in on the action in any way he can. Often this has meant pretend play about workers and construction, but it has also sparked an interest in practical tasks involving tools. 

So, I introduced our hand drill! And, it quickly became his favorite new work on his shelves. Ted has reached for this work every single day since it's been put out. To create this work, I simply made a tray with the hand drill, eye protection, scrap wood, and the drill bits. (Teddy has added other random tools to the tray but they are just there for show.) 

But, as much as Teddy loves this work, I really love it too. This work is great because: 
  1. Encourages repetition and precision - can't get through the whole block of wood at once so he has to go back to the same spot over and over  
  2. Maximum effort - its a great amount of work for little hands
  3. Super satisfying - this drill really works and to see that visual progress really captures their attention
  4. Appropriate level of risk - since it's a hand drill it's hard for them to hurt themselves because it doesn't do anything if they aren't cranking it
  5. Coordination - a fair amount of two handed coordination is needed to hold the drill upright with one hand and turn with the other, it's great motor planning 

So if you're looking for a fun practical life option, consider a hand drill. This isn't just limited to 3-year-olds, this has been a huge hit for Gus at 5 too. It's a great way to practice a practical skill in a safe and controlled way before moving on to bigger wood working projects! 


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