Five Winter Practical Life Activities that require little to no preparation from parents or teachers, including a full lesson on How to Present a Hot Chocolate Practical Life Tray.
Montessori Winter Practical Life
There are many purposes to Montessori Practical Life lessons – preparing children for later (orderly) work and lessons, to develop finger strength and dexterity (fine motor skills), and to teach children practical skills that they can use in their daily lives.
Practical Life Lessons tend to fall into these four categories: care of self, care of environment, control of movement, and grace and courtesy. However, you often see these categories overlapping – for example, our making a hot chocolate tray is great for control of movement but it can also be a grace and courtesy exercise.
For the following five activities, I wanted to pick activities that were practical for the home, required little to no preparation, and provide skills that are really useful during the winter. If you think of a great winter practical life activity – please describe it in the comments below and I can add to this post.
Putting on Winter Clothing
Practicing putting on winter clothing is a great practical life activity with no special prep needed.
Kids can start learning how to put on hats and gloves independently (surprisingly hard for little ones), and graduate to putting on snow pants and coats. Children as young as 2 years old can do the “Montessori Coat Flip” which you can see an example of below – in a group setting where the floors may be wet, using a bench for the coat flip keeps the coats clean and is also a bit easier for the kids to pick up.
I also like to teach the kids to tuck their boots into their snow pants and put them on “fireman style” – it helps create a snow seal that keeps their socks dry.
The ultimate winter practical life activity – and one that also has the added perk of helping mom & dad clear the drive-way – shovelling snow is also a “heavy work” activity that helps kids work their whole bodies. The pressure that heavy work puts on children’s muscles and joints provides sensory input (“proprioceptive input”) that helps kids self-regulate.
For the best success with this activity:
- provide a kid-sized snow shovel
- designate an area for each child – my daughter’s “job” is clearing off our small walkway and steps (which helps our community workers such as mail carriers access our door easily)
- teach them how to work orderly, clearing off small areas at a time and putting the snow into the same “deposit” area (don’t just fling it in front of you)
- teach them to take small shovelfulls of snow at a time
It’s important that every day take into account providing heavy work or stimulating physical activity for these reasons. When it’s too cold to go out and shovel, Winter Yoga for Kids (or Rudolph Yoga) is a low-key indoor activity you can try.
Outdoor Winter Prep
We buy kid-safe salt so my daughter loves helping “salt” the walkways when she is done. I keep an empty salt canister and just add a few scoops to it so that it’s not too heavy for her.
It’s basically a modified dry pouring activity! They have to learn how to salt the entire area with the salt provided – being conservative and controlled in their distribution (shakes).
If you have winter birds, setting out bird seed is a great outdoor winter activity (you can even make your own Bird Seed Wreath or Cookie Cutter Bird Seed Ornaments, too).
Blowing Nose Practical Life Activity
Manners and self-care both come into play with this deceptively simple Montessori Practical Life activity. Usually, when the kids come in from outside they get a bit of a runny nose, so teaching them to address it independently can prevent a lot of germs spreading and prevent habits like wiping noses on sleeves from forming.
First, I have children stand in front of a mirror for a self-check. Show them how to hold the tissue and blow their noses. After you’re done, check to ensure that your nose is fully wiped. Dispose of the tissue in the garbage and go wash your hands. If you have a Montessori classroom, this is such a great nose blowing set-up.
Hot Chocolate Practical Life Tray
- Direct: to learn the steps needed to make hot chocolate (for personal use or entertaining)
- Indirect: sequencing, independence and concentration.
- wooden tray
- measuring cup or pitcher filled with warm milk or water (child’s preferred drinking temperature for hot chocolate)
- 2 small bowls – one with cocoa powder and one with mini marshmallows, optional
- napkin or cloth for spills
Age: 3 1/2 +
- Bring materials to the table.
- Put on aprons. (optional)
- Using the spoon, measure out the cocoa powder into the mug.
- Pour the milk into the mug.
- Stir the cocoa powder and milk together to form hot chocolate.
- Adjust quantities of cocoa powder as needed.
- Add mini marshmallows on top of the hot chocolate.
- Wipe up spills.
- Enjoy hot chocolate!
- Then clean up materials.
Points of Interest:
- Does the child center the spout? Does she watch for the last drop?
- Is the cocoa powder added sufficiently on the first attempt, or is adjustment needed?
Variation: Making this activity again, I would make the tray with two mugs to encourage a sense of hospitality – inviting a friend or parent to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate as well.
For more Montessori Winter Activities, check out these posts from my fellow Montessori bloggers:
Yarn Paper Plate Heart Craft – Beginner Sewing for Preschool and Kindergarten | Natural Beach Living
Montessori-Friendly Ways to Teach Kids about Animals in Winter ~ Printables Included | The Natural Homeschool
Hundreds of Montessori-Friendly Resources for Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) | Living Montessori Now
Montessori Arctic Activities and Printables | Mama’s Happy Hive
Montessori Self-Care Essentials for Winter | The Kavanaugh Report
How Polar Animals Keep Warm Experiment | The Pinay Homeschooler
How To Make A Felt Penguin Life Cycle Every Kid Will Love | Uno Zwei Tutu