Activities and lessons that teach the control of water and the importance and fun of order and cleanliness
Practical Life / Daily Living Activities, as seen from an art education perspective, center on the acquisition of two important skills: the ability to control the materials and tools needed for each art form, and the ability to clean and restore the activity. Only starting from a clean work space can one discern what needs to be done in order to restore the area. Children need the opportunity to make messes and successfully handle their cleanup, which usually means knowing how to control water. The development of the art environment follows the development of the children’s cleanup skills. This way, both the children and adults can relax and learn from each new upward step in difficulty and complexity. The Montessori Curriculum is rich with appropriate practical life activities. Simple activities involving transferring small amounts of liquid only require the basic skills of putting an apron on and off, plus controlling the water. Later, the simple activities can be designed to have a higher level of difficulty in order to add interest. It is an added level of difficulty to carry water to and from a sink. The Montessori Art Mentor (MAM) activities presented here are ones that strongly build cleanup skills children favor. In order to help your day to go well, prepare extra materials, such as pitchers of colored water, or anything that might be used up. If everything is at hand, replenishing is easy even while the children are still working. Use only materials that will not stain clothing or furnishings. When there is no time left for another cleanup lesson, call upon a child more for help. It is very possible this kind of help will be spontaneously offered. Note: When a child is having difficulty doing any work that involves a motor skill, your verbal directions may have little meaning. If needed, you can ask the child if you might join in their work. This means your hands are over the child’s, moving them as needed, so as to help them experience the task. Using a sponge may require such a direct lesson. The lack of having such a lesson could discourage children from choosing the work. A child is not always aware of his/her need for help, and your suggestion of help may be what will engage the person with the work. Cutting with scissors is another activity where direct help may be needed. It is difficult to coordinate cutting with one hand and moving the paper with the other. (See: Basic Skills) Learning to weave on a simple loom, wrapping the sticks to make a God’s Eye, or painting with your fingers may also require direct intervention. These activities are covered in other MAM Curriculum sections.