A ready answer, a Montessori mantra, is "follow the child". What is she ready for and interested in.
With this in mind, I set-up little Practical Life trays--simpler, but still much like the ones you'd see on the shelves of my previous classrooms and on boards in Pinterest. Examples: 1) Hand transfer (2 bowls and some beans which she would have had to transfer from one bowl to another and back again); 2) Spooning (2 bowls, small spoon, some beans/kernels which she would have had to spoon from one bowl to another and back again); etc. I'm going to stop giving examples here because--
They weren't very successful. Even while my daughter can transfer by hand and with a spoon, little trays with materials such as these didn't get worked on much. Why? One, because children her age are more for explorations (more on this, maybe, another day). And two, I realized that before poring over pins and posts for Practical Life ideas, I should be looking at something else first:
Young children look at what we do and want to do those themselves. This is how they naturally work (so/how they acquire our language and culture). My little trays, no matter how cute, sat unnoticed on the shelf because my daughter doesn't see me do those things myself.
So I looked at what we actually do everyday and turned as much as I can into useful and practical Practical Life. Here I remember a recent video that just played on my feed (I have a point, promise) where a girl makes machines to do things for her like pour cereals and milk in a bowl. It was supposed to be funny (the machines just weren't doing what they're actually supposed to), but it stuck somehow because the girl said she wanted to make some parts of her life automated. With now-19-month-old Cara, our efforts involve, to support her work of increasing independence, making more aspects of her everyday life autonomous.
What work does your child see you do at home? What household chores do you do yourself? What's your routine with your child/ren? Looking into these can give us good ideas for Practical Life activities. Observe your day, go. Leave this post if you must.
But if you want to see examples of what we do in our home, here are some (the ones with * have links to videos of Cara doing the work--watch, they're fun :-)):
Food Prep and Meals
Pouring water into a drinking glass*
Drinking from a glass*
Squeezing citrus to make juice
Setting the table before meals and tidying it up after
Preparing a snack of cereals* (much more efficient and endearing than the cereals-and-milk-pouring-machine from that video I mentioned)
Peeling an egg and making an egg sandwich
Picking moringa / malunggay leaves to use for meals
Peeling an orange*
Washing fruits and vegetables
Our then 14-month-old washing string beans we picked from the neighbor's vegetable patch
Care for Self
Washing the hands
Putting on and taking off shoes
Putting clothes in the hamper
Choosing what to wear (clothes, shoes, hair tie/clips, even citronella patches)
Scrubbing the body with a washcloth during bath
Brushing the teeth
Combing the hair
Putting on lotion
A part of her Montessori-inspired bathroom
Care for the Environment
Cleaning the shelf*
Cleaning materials and other furniture
Packing materials away
Arranging flowers to decorate the house*
Mopping the floor*
Washing the gate, walls, and windows
Giving the pet some water*
How do we know we chose the right Practical Life activities--like this, her first time to use a hose to water plants?
We get smiles like that.
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