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A huge part of the Montessori Practical Life section [especially for toddlers] consists of different types of “transfer works.” This is as simple as it sounds — work that is focused on transferring objects from one container to another. The point of these works is to help develop fine motor skills, hand control, and self-care skills as the child progresses from transferring with just her hand, to using a spoon, a scoop, a ladle, tongs, tweezers, and then pouring. The repetitive motions that are necessary to complete the full transfer of objects help to build concentration and focus.
I recently cleaned out and organized my work closet, and it gave me the idea for this post on what types of things you can use as transfer work fillers and where you can find them — without spending an arm and a leg. These materials can all be used in a variety of ways over and over again, so you’ll really get good use out of them. They can be adjusted according to a theme, if you like to go that route — for example, use certain colors to represent an upcoming holiday, or certain shapes for seasonal effect.
At the end of this post, I will link all of the transfer works that I reference below so you can mix and match your objects with each activity. Once you see just how many options there are, you will never shop the same way again!
Wooden eggs are great for beginning transfer works with younger toddlers because they require the use of the palmar grasp. Plastic Easter eggs work similarly, although without the extra effect of the heavy weight. You can find these at any craft store — check right after Easter to get them on clearance!
Pebbles are also great for full palm transfer, and depending on where you live, you might be able to find them for free out in nature. I got these at a craft supply store.
Large pom-poms are one of my favorite materials to use because they are so versatile! These are great for palm transfer, spooning, ladling, using tongs, etc. They also provide a sensory element as they are soft and squishy.
I honestly don’t know what these small wooden balls are supposed to be used for, but my first thought when I saw them in a craft store was… Practical Life! I like to start my spooning works with objects that are small enough to spoon but large enough that only one of each object will fit in the spoon at a time. You could use any kind of round bead for this. These would also be good for palm transfer, ladling, and dry pouring.
These acrylic jewels always entice my girls no matter what the activity is! I often find them in the dollar section of Michaels. We currently have them on the shelf as a spooning work, but they’re also great for tong transfer and dry pouring.
Dry pasta in fun shapes is always a great transfer work filler. Aldi always has some great seasonally-shaped pastas, and Kraft usually has some fun character shapes. We use these for spooning and pouring. If you’re really cheap like we are, you can even cook it up for dinner once your child has lost interest!
Seasonal mini erasers are the perfect way to freshen up a Practical Life activity and make it seem completely new! These can be used for spooning, tong transfer, dry pouring, you name it! I always find these in the Target bargain bins — they usually have new ones for each season.
Jingle bells provide a great sensory element to any transfer work — sound! I like to use these for dry pouring because if amplifies the sound, but they can also be used for palm transfer, spooning, ladling, and tong transfer. You can find these at any craft store — usually on sale right after Christmas!
Buttons are fun and come in such a variety of shapes and colors that they are perfect for all kinds of works! While they’re great for spooning, scooping, and dry pouring, I prefer to use them in a posting work (pushing them through a slot, like a piggy bank).
Glass stones are another one of our favorite materials. Depending on how large they are, they work for palm transfer, spooning, and a large-slotted posting work. You can find these at any craft store — they’re usually sold as a vase filler, but I’ve never used them for that!
Seasonal mini erasers are also great for posting works — I especially love the sound they make as the rubber erasers hit the bottom of the posting jar.
I have no idea what the above objects are called or what you’re supposed to use them for, so I can’t link them for you — but I found them in the Target bargain bins. Little seasonal miniatures are great for transfer works in so many ways! These can both be used for spooning, dry pouring, and posting.
Mini bouncy balls can be used for a variety of different transfer works — palm transfer, spooning, ladling, tong transfer, and dry pouring. You can find these in the party favors section of any party supply store.
Mini pom-poms are just as versatile as the larger ones. I think they’re particularly fun for dry pouring, but they can also be used for spooning, scooping, ladling, and tong transfer.
You may be surprised at how your mind works while you’re grocery shopping and pass by some beans and rice! These are great for spooning, scooping, ladling, and dry pouring — BEFORE you cook them, of course!
Here are the links to all of the Practical Life works I mentioned above:
HERE’S THE BEST PART: These fillers aren’t ONLY for transfer works! You can easily use many of them as math counters, pattern-making pieces, in color sorting works — the possibilities are endless. 🙂