The first learning materials that the child is likely to encounter in the Montessori classroom are those that make up the Montessori practical life curriculum. The young child enters the Children’s House which reflects an extension of home with some of the same kinds of activities which are typically human.
Practical Life Activities strengthen and develop a characteristically human foundation to the personality, of co-ordination of movement (unity of thought, will, action). They are most important to the whole development of the child.
These are activities that involve pouring different materials, using utensils such as scissors, tongs and tweezers, cleaning and polishing, preparing snacks, laying the table and washing dishes, arranging flowers, gardening, doing up and undoing clothes fastenings, and so on.
Their aims, in addition to developing the child’s skills for independent living (“Help me to do it by myself”), are to build up the child’s gross and fine motor control and eye-hand co-ordination, to introduce them to the cycle of selecting, initiating, completing and tidying up an activity, and to introduce the rules for functioning in the social setting of the Montessori classroom.