Practical Life Skills – In and Outs with Small Holes

A few months ago, L noticed the holes in my mom’s crocs and thought they were the coolest thing ever.  She kept trying to stick her fingers in.  I realized that she needed an in and out work with smaller holes, something that would require more control to put the objects into each hole.  One day a few weeks ago, we took a trip to the dollar store — the Montessori teacher’s dream!  When you have a small monthly budget for classroom materials, the dollar store is the place to go for bits and pieces for different works.  I had found some reusable coffee stirrers at Target earlier, so I was searching for something with the perfectly sized holes to put them in.  I found this colander for $1 and snatched it up.
I asked my husband to build a special floor table for this work.  It’s simply a low table that the child can kneel beside to do work.  In this case, the work stays at the table — it does not have a space on the shelf.  That’s because this work is rather large and would be difficult for L to carry back and forth easily.  The first time she did it, L was a bit mad that she wasn’t allowed to put it away on a shelf, but she quickly caught on.                                                                                                             I placed the coffee stirrers in a basket to the left of the colander.  In Montessori works, everything is placed from left to right, laying the groundwork for reading.  I showed L how to take one coffee stirrer and place it in a hole.  She loves this work and will do it until all the pieces are in place, then remove them one by one and put them back in the basket.  This work teaches hand-eye coordination.  There are quite a few coffee stirrers, and the repetition of placing them in the holes one by one builds focus and concentration.