Practical Life is one of the areas of the Montessori classroom that is so important for far more than just the obvious reason of teaching the child skills she can use in her daily life. In addition to that, it helps the child to learn how to care for her materials, builds up focus and concentration through repetition, and allows the child to take pride in making something old new [or clean] again.
On the hunt for some new Practical Life works for my girls, my friend Ashley of Diamond Montessori recommended wood polishing and I knew they would love it! I ordered some wood polish (we use this kind) and cut up a few of my husband’s old shirts to use as waxing cloths. I prepared a tiny 3-part card tray by turning it upside down and putting the wax on the left and the cloth on the right. When the wax tin is opened, the lid fits perfectly in the label compartment of the tray.
To present this work for the first time, I first brought the tray to the table and then said, “Let’s find something made of wood that we can polish!” We walked around the classroom and settled on one of our red rods. Bringing the rod back to the table, I showed Lila how to get some polish on her rag…
…and then rub it on the wood using small circular motions. After applying the polish, we used the opposite end of the cloth to buff it using the same small circular motions.
When the child is finished with this work, she puts the cloth she was using in the laundry and prepares a fresh cloth for the tray. We keep a small bin filled with clean cloths on the Practical Life shelf, so she just takes one, rolls it up, and puts it on the tray for the next child to use.
This work gets chosen several times a week, so the wooden materials in our homeschool preschool room are looking better than ever!