stories of discovery

Welcome to North Star Montessori’s blog.  Stories of Discovery is a place where faculty, students and parents share knowledge, experiences and things that motivate and inspire us.

Keeping Practical Life Practical

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Student life, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: November 6, 2018

The Practical Life area in the Montessori classroom is one of the key ways to help a child achieve normalization. This area is the basis for all the rest. It directly and indirectly prepares the children for all the Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics activities. The skills that the child learns through the Practical Life activities will help them be successful in everyday life. And, they must begin right away, from the moment the child enters the classroom!


The dictionary states that ‘practical’ is an adjective, meaning:

Of or pertaining to practice or action,

Consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action,

Of, pertaining to, or concerned with ordinary activities,

Adapted or designed for actual use.


So in general, we can say that in the Montessori environment, the Practical Life area is where the child ‘practices’ life. What does that mean? For us, Practical Life includes all of the activities that we do to survive.  These are activities that we do to ourselves and to the environment such as dressing and undressing, preparing food, washing dishes, etc. These activities help us to care for ourselves and others, and also help us to provide hospitality and courtesy as a form of human expression.


There are three main purposes of Practical Life:


  1. Adaptation-

Introducing these activities of daily living to children help in assisting their adaptation into their particular environment. Adaptation is one of the main necessities of human beings in order to develop. Without adaptation, the human will not be able to function in his environment. Adaptation is the starting point in our work with the child. The child will be able to incarnate the environment and make it a part of him. The child is making himself Canadian, Mexican, Indonesian, etc., adapting to whatever environment he or she is living in.


These Practical Life activities are present in every single culture around the world. Children show great interest in this and are drawn to these activities. Their motivation is purely for developmental reasons, which produce a positive outcome if they are allowed to participate.


What changes with these Practical Life activities is the way that the different groups of people perform them. Our needs as human beings are the same; just the way in which we perform these activities in our culture differ from group to group.


  1. Independence:

The Practical Life activities have been part of the child’s life since the moment they were born. These activities sometimes were done to the child such as feeding, bathing, or changing, and sometimes were done around the child such as making the bed, washing the clothes, etc.


Through these activities, the child begins to acknowledge his own needs and the particular way in which these needs are satisfied in his own environment. Aided by the Absorbent Mind, the child will then come to understand how to take care of his own needs. He will get the sense “I am worth it”.


The physically prepared environment assists the child’s development of independence in the Montessori classroom. As we can say, external order creates internal order. Our materials are set out logically in order from simple to complex, with each activity being self-contained within itself for greater independence. The materials are child-size, colour-coded, and provide the child with a control of error which lets him or her be aware of when a mistake is made – independently.


  1. Control of Movement:

During the first 3 years of life, the child’s movement changes dramatically. From being basically motionless as a newborn, the child within the first year learns to slither, crawl, pull up, stand, and then walk. Over the next few years the child works at perfecting this gross motor skill, along with finding greater coordination with his or her fine motor ability.


Children need to be active learners, not passive. Children experience their work through doing, especially through the connection between the hand and the brain.


By experiencing the real activities of Practical Life, we are helping the child achieve greater coordination between the mind and the body, which leads to normalization through a purposeful goal.


The Practical Life activities encourage children to develop concentration, which also helps in the refinement on movement. The activities have a set sequence with a beginning, middle, and end, which grow in complexity as the child progresses through the materials.

Finding the Solutions Behind the Symptoms (ADHD, anxiety…)

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Parent's perspective, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: November 1, 2018

In Canada, 6.1% of school age children have ADHD. 11.6% are diagnosed with mood and/or anxiety disorders. 31.5% are overweight with 11.7% classified as obese and these percentages are increasing. Parents, teachers and medical professionals are equally concerned about these alarming statistics. So it was to a packed room of Early Childhood Educators, that I found myself attending a lecture given by Michelle Riddle, Occupational Therapist and Holistic Nutrition Consultant. In two hours she offered tantalizing solutions to many symptoms including anxiety, attention deficit, brain fog and lack of co-ordination.


Riddle’s answer was based in the study of epigenetics – the biological mechanisms that will switch genes on or off. She drew on the example of Type 2 Diabetes – a disease more likely to manifest symptoms when a person is overweight, eating a high sugar diet and/or living under a lot of stress.


We all know our bodies suffer under strain. Who hasn’t noticed a dramatic drop in patience levels just before you get sick? So children demonstrate mood changes when their bodies have to fight against tiredness, inflammatory reactions to allergens and/or excessive stress levels. There is only so much wear and tear a body can cope with. This will vary between individuals but overloading the body can lead to poor digestion, excessive release of cortisol and the acceleration of any disease lurking in the body – think “fight or flight” all the time.


The solution, according to Riddle, is to choose activities that support healthy functions within the body. By giving the body a “S. E. N. S. E. of Regulation” Riddle believes you can build resilience against chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, ADHD, mood disorders, learning disabilities, and more. S. E. N. S. E. being an anachronism for:


Sleep: The symptoms of sleep deprivation – inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, disorganization, forgetfulness, difficulty following social rules and easily distracted – look suspiciously similar to the symptoms of ADHD.

Build opportunities for solid, age appropriate sleep.

Exercise: Move your body for at least one hour everyday. Get outside. Interact with nature. Strengthen the immune system by getting dirty.


Nourishment – To access the nutrients that manage the functions of our brains and bodies choose a variety of chemical free, whole foods. Avoid processed food. Remove reactants and identify digestive imbalances.


Stress – Learn relaxation techniques and build social/spiritual wellness to help balance the stressors in life. Practice gratitude, listen, master the art of conflict resolution and treat others with care.


Environment – In 2013, Environment Defense Canada discovered up to 121 active toxins in the cord blood of newborns. To minimize personal exposures and build resilience use natural cleaners, such as vinegar and baking soda, reduce the use of plastics, stop any pest and herbicide use and reduce electromagnetic frequency exposure.



Would you like to learn more?

Contact Michelle Riddle: [email protected]

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