The Most Overlooked Element of Practical Life Transfer Work Trays: The Importance of Sound

Practical Life works in a Montessori classroom are prized for their ability to develop fine motor skills, focus, and concentration, all while instilling practical life skills that the child will use for a lifetime. But do you know what it is about these materials that will keep a child coming back over and over again to practice those skills? The sound.

Sound is the most overlooked element in practical life transfer works, but it’s a really important one. The sound the material makes as it is spooned or poured from one bowl to the other is a major point of interest for many children. If you have a wooden spoon with some pom-poms in a rope bowl, guess what you’ll hear when you transfer those pom-poms? Nothing. Silence. But if you have a metal spoon with some wooden balls in a ceramic bowl? Some jingle bells in a wooden bowl? Some rice to pour through a funnel into a glass jar? Magic.

So when you’re putting together those practical life transfer works, yes — test that the spoon can actually pick up the objects, test that the bowls don’t slide around too much on the tray, test it with your non-dominant hand to mimic the fine motor skills of a toddler. But don’t forget to consider the element of sound as each material touches the others.