Holiday events provide a wealth of opportunities for children to practice their practical life skills. Of course children should be reminded of the basic grace and courtesy skills if they will be guests or hosts (if you will entertain at our home). However, do not forget other activities which are natural practical life lessons, as well. Choosing, washing, and donning holiday clothing are all good self-care activities. Straightening the house for guests or before putting up holiday decorations teaches care of the home environment. Participating in decorating activities and/or food preparation gives the child a sense of their part in the event, as well as a chance to practice toward mastery of these household skills.
In guiding children through the many interesting activities and chores of the holiday season, remember the words of Maria Montessori “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” We all need to develop a sense of mastery and confidence, and these experiences when we are young provide the foundation for lifelong self-esteem and self-reliance.
Please enjoy the following practical life lesson resources.
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North American Montessori Center has provided a whole array of interesting holiday-themed activities that help children practice many different skills. Don’t miss the interesting and versatile Furoshiki fabric package wrapping instructions, the cute cinnamon-scented gingerbread men project, the counting exercises, flower arranging, and more.
Find another nice activity that is appropriate for the holidays in their Napkin Folding Exercise. http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2009/11/montessori-practical-life-activity.html
For more general information on day-to-day mastery opportunities, NAMC offers a very useful listing of Practical Life lessons here: http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2008/07/montessori-practical-life-at-home.html
Fun Felt’s Handprint Towel craft/gift project is a nice way to combine a fun craft with an item that can be used during daily activities. http://www.amonco.org/winter5/montessori_winter5.pdf
Kimbo’s Self-Regulatory Exercises use music to help young children learn to concentrate and control their own bodies. http://www.amonco.org/winter7/montessori_winter7.pdf
Manners are the building blocks of the characteristics of grace and courtesy mentioned in the NAMC 3-6 Classroom Guides (http://www.montessoritraining.net/classroom_guides/default.htm). Find many manners books at Farm Country General Store. They have a wide selection for different ages and personalities. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com
Another important life skill for children to practice around the holidays is writing “thank you” notes. Find some good hints on the subject here: http://www.drdaveanddee.com/thank.html and http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art37036.asp
Working together as a family is also a practical life exercise. Find suggestions for modeling positive perspective, gratitude, generosity, and more in Rethinking Holiday Priorities During Tough Times by Sara L. Ambarian. http://www.amonco.org/winter8/montessori_winter8.pdf