Today’s challenge is a personal favourite of mine — setting up a practical life invitation!
We love practical life lessons, but a good place to start is a simple invitation – today, I’m sharing several easy practical life invitations that you can provide to your child in the kitchen.
Day 5: Set up a “Practical Life” Invitation
Most of this week’s challenges have been set in the kitchen, and while this challenge is perfect for getting kids involved in the kitchen, practical life can happen in any corner of the house!
A Montessori practical life invitation has a few components:
- engages fine motor skills
- a real, practical purpose and might mimic an activity that the child has witnessed the parents doing
- an inherent order (one task must be done before another)
- isolate an activity or new skill
- and, must be inviting; the child must be inclined and want to engage with the activity
There are a few Montessori curricula which hold that pouring, folding, and other preliminary skills must be taught first, but I’m not going to be as purist in my approach. Preliminary skills are good to consider and should all eventually be taught, but I wouldn’t hold off on another age-appropriate activity just because a child hasn’t learned how to fold cloths yet.
Here are a few suggestions for practical life invitations, but really — anything will work! Think of something simple that your child has not yet done in the kitchen, and give them the opportunity. And, please don’t stop and get hung up on the activities that you don’t yet have the supplies for (or fixate on the foods that you currently don’t have in your kitchen) — look in the fridge, in the cupboards, find something that will work, and use it!
There are so many variations of pouring, and you can choose wet or dry pouring depending on your comfort. (Dry could use dried beans or rice, or even sand — we used rainbow-coloured barley in the the lesson linked to above.) Provide a cloth with wet pouring to encourage children to clean up any potential spills.
Picking Grapes off of the Vine
This is a great “gentleness of touch” activity, as smooshed grapes provide feedback (called “control of error“) that the child needs to be more gentle. I provided a handled colander so that the child can also wash the grapes after picking them, but a bowl would be just as good.
Make sure the butter is room temperature (or try to pick an easily spreadable alternative), provide a sturdy plastic knife or a dull metal one — I love our butter spreaders for their shortness, sturdy grip, and wide blade, but use what you have for now. I would personally opt for a cutting board or a plate without a “lip” so that the edge doesn’t interfere with the spreading process.
Making a sandwich
Maybe your child has already mastered spreading — why not get some ingredients ready and let them make their own sandwich! Ella started making sandwiches at 2 years old, and as much as I’m a frugal mama, it was worth purchasing pre-sliced swiss cheese for her to have that independence. (PS – how did my baby get so old?!)
Cutting up fruit
A banana is the easiest fruit to start with, but peeling an orange, using an apple slicer, or hulling strawberries, are all great practical life opportunities.
Which simple kitchen invitations would you consider giving your children?