Sunday, April 13, 2014

a little tour: e's practical life shelf

^^e's practical life shelf^^

A few lessons I've put together to support the development of Elise's coordination and control of movement...

 ^^posting toothpicks^^

 ^^fragile objects^^

 ^^transferring eggs (whole hand)^^

 ^^transferring pom poms (melon baller)^^

^^play dough^^


Lately, I've been debating whether or not to continue preparing these types of lessons for Elise...  Is it as meaningful to spoon pom poms between two bowls on a tray as it is to scoop spices into a pot of soup?  Yes?  No?  While I don't think these lessons should replace authentic practical life exercises - cooking, cleaning, caring for oneself, etc - I do think they can be offered as a valuable supplement. 

Like authentic practical life exercises, these lessons:
  • develop strength, coordination, and muscle control
  • encourage concentration, carefulness, and precision
  • provide indirect preparation for writing, reading, and mathematics
  • foster independence 

Ultimately, the biggest benefit I see in preparing practical life lessons for Elise, in addition to including her in authentic practical life work, is that it offers her freedom of choice - she can decide when, where, and for how long she wants to work.  Honestly, at 21 months of age, she has limited freedom in choosing authentic practical life work - she often has to wait for me or work at my pace to reach my adult goals.  I know this will all change as Elise gets older, and I'll probably reevaluate the purpose of her practical life shelf several more times...  but for now, it stays.  

What do YOU think?  Do you prepare practical life lessons in addition to including your child in authentic practical life work?  Why or why not?  


  1. I have been thinking about the same thing, but decided otherwise based on Finn's lack of interest for this type of activities! He has never enjoyed transferring or sorting activities on trays, but he loves his play kitchen and uses the pots and pans to transfer beans and glass beads with a variety of small sized kitchen tools. I have decided not to present "posting" activities on trays but rather leave the container and objects separate for him to discover the match on his own. Same with eggs (golf balls) and egg boxes. They are in his play kitchen and he found out about this activity spontaneously. I like how you display Elise's play dough - seeing your set up made me realise that I have far too many play dough accessories! Oh, and your heart shaped box is beautiful!

    1. Hi Elsa! What good suggestions - I like the way you incorporate skills like transferring and posting into Finn's play. That certainly sounds more natural than setting things up on a tray - spontaneous discovery! I'd love to see a photo of Finn's play kitchen area sometime. Elise is just becoming interested in hers, but I feel like she needs a little more counter space. ;) What kind of accessories do you have with Finn's dough? I'd like to offer Elise a little more variety, but I need some inspiration! Hope you're having a lovely day!

    2. Finn's "kitchen area" is really simple. We were given this$dw_large_mc$ in a well used state with no accessories. The back doesn't stay attached to the base anymore so we just prop it up against a wall at the moment. It's really battered! I bought a set of small pots and pans to go with it,and Finn seems happy. I really should fix it though! For playdough we have a big variety of random things. Actually, when I can't find a place for something, it often ends up in the "playdough basket". So we've got some candles, a syringe, a piping bag with various attachments (that's quite fun but he cant do it himself), a spare curtain ring, a pinecone, a marble, candles, goggly eyes to make people and monsters, small craft sticks, a rolling pin, a toy car... it's really quite eclectic! Does he play with it all? No. I think less would definitely be more in this case!

  2. Anne! My photos are retrieved, we are almost back to our normal selves so here I am!
    I genuinely love reading your posts and it is always nice getting them in the "mail'.
    Anyway, even though Six is older than Elise, Vic isn't far off and I find you can almost always adapt "activities" to a certain level.

    I too love your play dough tray (especially the candles! I think Six would love that - why didn't I think of that?).


    1. Deb! Thank goodness! I've been thinking about you and your missing photos a lot - I would have had a panic attack! How did you get them back?

  3. I like that you have all those activities there ready for Elise to do as and when she feels like. I would like to do something similar but find that we spend so much time out in the garden or doing day to day practical things that I don't get much time to set up such activities. Lotus (16 months) loves participating in whatever I am doing, whether its sweeping, hanging the washing, making a veggie juice (we have a slow juicer and it makes a great real life 'posting' activity), transferring chickpeas, rice or lentils etc into pots for cooking and pouring liquids for cooking. Whenever we have a guest I ask her to pour them a glass of water which she absolutely loves! Actually, there is one practical life tray that sits on Lotus's shelf and she loves it: a money box tray! Lotus just loves putting coins in and out of wallets and money boxes. A real life extension of this is whenever we go to the shops I often ask lotus to either give the cashier the money and then put the change back in the wallet or if I pay with a card to put some coins in a donation box.


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