Three-Year-Old Having a Hard Time with Montessori Practical Life Activities

Multi-colored children's socks pinned (to dry) on several clotheslines

I am not very experienced with toddlers and I am having a hard time with my son who is about to turn three in May.

I have used Montessori principles with him since he was born, but he has been a challenge lately...I am having a hard time keeping up with his needs and it seems that any practical life work I put out becomes a disaster.

He takes great pleasure in dismantling anything and everything I prepare. Currently, my front porch is covered with beans...he will start to sweep with me but then he just throws them everywhere. This is the same for almost all the work I put out. He is very busy. He masters things easily, then becomes bored and will not choose the work again. And I feel like I can not keep up!

Sweeping: we had a dustbuster in the classroom (and I had one at home for my son for a few years--it finally died!). And use rice for pouring, because it can be dust busted a lot easier!

Try some larger motor movement (gross motor) activities, instead, and focus less on the activities that involve fine motor (like pouring and picking up/sweeping beans). Some boys take longer to develop their fine motor, and it usually develops stronger at age four, including drawing and writing.

Try washing works: washing a bike, a window, a pumpkin, a truck, or a doll. Three-year-olds love water, and brushing and sponging are very age appropriate! You can have the same washing and scrubbing works, just change the object to be washed weekly or daily.

Do more outside activities as well: working outside (and being in an outside classroom) can have a very calming effect on active boys! Digging in the compost was a favorite at our school! Also, raking, watering plants, and art.

Here are some books of interest:
  • Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning: Using the Outdoors as an Instructional Tool, K-8
  • Sharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
  • For older kids (8 and up): The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms
~Lisa Nolan

My Free E-books @

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Montessori Sewing Works by Aimee Fagan, author of Sewing in the Montessori Classroom: a practical life curriculum

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