Practical Life activities are the activities of everyday life. The child observes these activities in the environment and gains knowledge through real experiences of accomplishing life skills in a purposeful way.
Food preparation and cooking are some of the most fun practical life activities in a Montessori environment.
Learning how to prepare one’s own food is a critical life skill, and it has always been a part of Montessori learning. Children learn to sit together and gracefully serve and enjoy their food.
In our Montessori classroom, we treat food preparation the same as we would any other subject. We teach small skills in isolation and with intention. The key is teaching them a skill so that they may master it themselves.
“I can, I am capable, I am worthy, my collaboration is needed by people with whom I live, my work is important to others and I can transform the world around me with my work”
(Understanding the Human Mind – Silvana Quattrocchi)
Food preparation shouldn’t be a one-time experience. The long – term goal is to encourage children to gain skills independently while building up their interest and confidence. To do this, we must give children ongoing opportunities to prepare food for themselves.
By taking part in food preparation activities the child can develop a high level of concentration, a sense of order, respect for their surroundings as well as increase their independence and improve their fine motor skills — both in general and with an eye to the particular skills that a child will need for more cognitively demanding work later in their life.
These skills are a natural progression of development from which most children gain great inner satisfaction. In the pictures above – you can see the child juicing a lemon, pouring the juice into a glass and then enjoying the fruits of his labour!
The pictures below show a child peeling and grating a carrot and then enjoying eating the result!
A fundamental advantage of these activities is that the child is engaging with real healthy foods that they may not otherwise be exposed to or consider trying. These activities also provide the opportunity to talk about the benefits of different fruits and vegetables.
This child is using a knife to slice a pear. She understands that the knife should be handled with care.
This activity, which is part of our Practical Life Fruit & Vegetable prep, is repeated daily in our Children’s house. This activity strengthens the child’s motor skills and teaches the child to be confident using the various kitchen utensils.
In this picture the child is using a wavy chopper to chop a carrot. This tool has a small easy to grip handle on the top which makes it easy for the child to push down.
They love the fancy crinkle cut carrots!
This child is using a knife to cut pieces of capsicum for our guinea pigs!
She is not only developing self-help skills but also learning the responsibility of caring for our pets who rely on the children to look after them. Responsibility is a valuable skill for life.
This child is developing an intense sense of order. He has completed his food preparation task and is now cleaning up after himself. This is a very long process that develops the child’s will and task persistence to see a process through to the end. The complete process is immensely satisfying and helps to develop self-efficiency.