Stories of Discovery

You're viewing articles authored by “Zahra Abdulla- Casa Guide”:

Why Should Practical Life Exercises Be Taken Seriously?

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: May 1, 2017

At the end of January, I had the pleasure of attending a two-day refresher workshop emphasizing the importance of Practical Life work in the Montessori classroom. I was reminded of the many benefits this area provides to the child and how it helps create a respectful classroom community.  Practical Life exercises when completed with engagement have a calming effect for the child as they bring about a sense of peacefulness and a state of grace. Practical Life exercises reveal how caring, careful, and independent work requiring movement leads to higher self-esteem and increased concern for others. In addition, Practical Life work is a preparation for later academics along with the development of the will and strong work habits.  Practical Life exercises are a preparation to developing life skills.


All children are born with an innate drive to adapt and understand their new environment. When children first enter the Montessori classroom at age 2.5 or 3, Practical Life exercises provide a smooth transition to the Montessori classroom by linking the activities that the child is familiar with at home to the school environment. Examples include sweeping, pouring water and dusting.  A sense of beauty is also found in the Practical Life area. Observing a child arrange flowers or polish metal using child size materials is very calming. Beauty calls out to the soul of the child igniting a sense of care and appreciation. The attractiveness of an object is attributed to its shape, shine, design and cleanliness.  Practical Life work should not be limited to younger children (ages 3 to 4). Children of all ages in the Montessori classroom should practice Practical Life lessons as they are developing their movement skills and creating meaningful work for themselves.


Individuals that are unfamiliar with the Montessori philosophy may perceive Practical Life exercises to be a waste of time. One may say, ‘Why is my child washing a table, I want them to focus on academics like Language?’   Practical life activities are an extremely important area of the Montessori classroom. These exercises set the foundation for more complex lessons. For example, as a child is washing a table they are indirectly learning a sequential order of steps, which prepares the child for language and math lessons to come. Math, reading and language lessons require the child to have the ability to focus, complete a task following a sequence of steps, to concentrate and complete a work cycle from start to finish.


When a child engages and repeats Practical Life work many life skills are acquired. These skills include developing fine motor skills, strengthening the will, developing independence and concentration. These are the purposes of Practical Life activities.  As the child works with the Practical Life materials, a sense of order and increased independence is attained as well. Activities such as washing cloths, lemon squeezing or cutting vegetables strengthen the child’s hand.


When children are engaged with Practical Life lessons, they learn to calmly go about their work and to take pleasure and satisfaction from their efforts. When offered freedom of movement in a beautiful and orderly environment they learn that their contributions are valuable to themselves and the larger community (ex. Care of Plants).  The child feels a sense of pride in their work and a sense of peace is attained. Dr. Montessori believed that emphasize should not be placed on the word ‘Practical’ but on the word ‘Life.’ Montessori Practical Life exercises need to be taken seriously as they assist the child in his total development (physical and mental) as preparation for life therefore Practical Life should be taken VERY seriously.


Casa Summer Camp Reflection

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: September 9, 2016

Summer fun and adventure!

When I look back at 4 weeks of summer camp, I am reminded of the children’s excitement, curiosity and contagious smiles filling the classroom. I see the children enjoying many individual and group activities interacting with their friends.

Unlike a typical day in a Montessori classroom, during summer camp the children participated in themed lessons involving art, song, stories and activities both indoor and outdoor. New and repeat lessons were also presented to the children from where they left off at the end of the term.

During the first week of camp, ‘Under the Sea’, the children took a dive into learning about marine life around the world. We read stories and sang songs pertaining to the theme. We learned about sea creatures that live close to the seashore, like starfishes and oysters, and others that live deep in the ocean such as whales and sharks. Many other fun art and water activities were part of the ‘Under the Sea’ adventure as well.

For week 2, the highlight of the week was going on a role-play Safari adventure. The children imagined packing their backpack with binoculars, a hat, a journal and their camera. Then they imagined taking a Safari Jeep to see the animals on an African Safari. It was a fun-filled adventure! In addition, the children created some wildlife art projects including a finger-paint giraffe, tropical birds, and lion.

For the next week of camp, the children explored forests from around the world. We went on a nature walk to collect rocks, leaves and braches. As a gift to their families, the children created personalized photo frames with leaf prints. We also learnt about different animals based on the theme ‘In the Forest’ and sang animal songs.

During the final week of camp, week 4, we celebrated the summer season and its many fun outdoor activities. We made kites, sailboats and flower-petal photo frames. The children enjoyed a picnic style snack at the park including delicious watermelon slices! After the picnic, the children flew their hand-made kites and played with bubbles.

4 weeks of summer camp flew by so quickly. It was busy and an absolute pleasure working with the children every morning. They came ready to explore and excited to be at school. They looked forward to the themed activities, art projects, new lessons and outdoor time.

I noticed the social interactions and conversations between the mixed age group of children. Children felt extremely confident and comfortable in the classroom. This is a key concept in the Montessori philosophy, as young children are very aware of one another. This promotes independence as the children learn to use their own pro-social conflict resolution skills. Children learn to work peacefully and cooperatively with one another. It was wonderful to witness this natural process of developing communication and problem solving skills.

Nicole Swan, my camp assistant played an instrumental role in the success of the summer camp program. The children and I loved having her part of the camp program. Her expertise, kindness and compassion working with the children were truly appreciated. I wish her the best in her next endeavor.

After an inspiring, energizing and restful summer break, I am very excited to work with the new and returning children at North Star Montessori!