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Practical Life

Practical Life for Life

My favorite age of preschool development, believe it or not, is the (not so) terrible twos. In fact, I love the terrific twos. The twos are just made for Montessori practical life skills; exemplified by the “I can do it myself!” attitude of most two year old children.

What is practical life? Basically, it is any physical activity that helps a child grow in motor skills, cognitive development, self confidence and development of his or her own personality, and most of all independence. Any controlled movement of hands, arms, legs, feet, eyes, etc. helps your child achieve independence and mastery of his or her environment. Sitting up, crawling, walking, grasping a toy are practical life skills for infants. Soon, your toddler is ready for new areas to conquer. Dressing, brushing his or her teeth, washing face and hands, eating properly, not slamming the door, manners, and so on are all practical life skills that prepare your child for life. Being able to take care of yourself gives not only self-confidence and freedom, but helps with ones concentration in the mastery of concrete learning that eventually leads to abstract learning, such as reading and math.

How long are parents required to help their children achieve practical skills? I recently taught my 16-year-old son how to drive in a very methodical Montessori approach. I slowly showed in a step by step process how to start the car, use the brake, how to shift gears, how to center the car, how to hold the steering wheel, the list is endless! I had to remember to be patient and most of all, not talk too much! It seems like practical life skills are something we continually develop during our lives.

Here are some practical life ideas that help with developing motor skills, eye hand coordination, order, sequence, concentration, and independence. Most importantly, a child who can control his or her environment is a happy well-adjusted child. Use these ideas when cleaning, cooking, getting ready for the day, just use any situation to let your child help become a real part of the family routine.

Practical Life Areas

Dressing oneself
Knowing parts of the body
Putting on jacket and zipping it
Hanging jacket on low hook
Putting clean clothes in drawer
Washing hands & drying hands with paper towel & throwing towel away in the trash
Blowing nose and throwing away tissue properly
Table manners
Setting the dinner table
Cleaning up spills with a sponge

Polishing shoes
Fastening clothes on a line with clothes pins or pegs
Using scissors with skill
Washing linen or dolls clothes on a wash board (you can buy these at a hardware store)
Learning home address and phone number
Pouring beans, rice, sugar, etc. without spilling
Pouring liquids without spilling
Sitting on the line
Sitting next to the line
Walking on the line
Carrying objects without dropping them
Carrying liquids without spilling
Walking without knocking into furniture or people
Dancing without knocking into furniture or people
Using knives with good control

Cracking nuts

Putting materials, books, and toys away on the shelves
Working carefully and neatly
Dusting and polishing exercises
Sweeping with small broom and dust pan
Flower arranging
Caring for plants
Caring for animals
Folding napkins, towels and own clothing
Simple use of needle and thread
Use of tweezers, tongs, eyedroppers, and locks
Spooning exercises
Small hammer and nails to make wood projects out of scrap lumber

Weaving and bead stringing

Sorting Beads

Sorting and Sequencing 

Sorting Colors with Magnet 

Activity with soap dish 

Marbles and bath mat 

Sorting According to Height 


Modeling with clay
Cutting and pasting

Simple cooking and food preparation and baking with mom or dad

This handy cooking stool makes cooking much easier and enjoyable.

Here are some favorite kitchen activities:

Using an old fashioned egg beater or whisk
Sifting flour
Scooping flour, sugar, salt, etc. with large and small scoops washing vegetables and fruit, peeling with a vegetable peeler
Spreading (like peanut butter on a cracker)
Stirring mixture
Basting with a large turkey baster
Using a ladle
Opening and closing lids
Screwing and unscrewing lids on jars
Dish washing and washing table with a sponge

Using a rolling pin

As you can see the list can be endless. Anything your child wants to learn to do, encourage him or her by breaking everything down into small steps and slowly and patiently teaching your child by actions and very few words.


Concrete academic experiences are essential at this phase of learning.  Puzzles, stacking blocks, sorting shapes and colors are all concrete skills that you can do with your child.


Barbara Showell

posted at 10:13 a.m. on August 15, 2009

Yes I am wondering if you have any ideas for magnets for toddlers. The non magnet,and the magnet. Thank you very much for the information.


posted at 1:19 a.m. on August 14, 2010

very detailed list of epl its a wide range of epl GOOD WORK


posted at 1:25 a.m. on March 30, 2011

good work about EPL.well done


posted at 4:04 p.m. on July 16, 2011



posted at 11:52 a.m. on March 12, 2012

thanks its very helpful

Maryam Asim

posted at 2:33 a.m. on April 9, 2012

Really helpful...Thanks

azra erum

posted at 8:38 a.m. on May 5, 2012

Thanks alot

Rahat moazzam

posted at 10:18 p.m. on October 9, 2012

I really appreciate you its a good effort for new generation and make the impressive personality of kids.I have a great passion for kids personality development.I have a lot of ideas for kids learning pattern.

Arosha Bakthi Silva

posted at 1:32 a.m. on April 6, 2015

Thank you So much. Good luck

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Last Updated: June 9, 2012
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