Clink, clink, clink. The sound of a whisk gently hitting the side of the glass bowl is heard across the classroom as a child focuses intently on whisking soap bubbles into a bubble frenzy. After sufficient bubbles are created, the child carefully walks the bowl of water over to a bucket, empties the water slowly, and returns to the table where he neatly dries the bowel and tray with a towel. The work is then returned to the shelf and the child moves on to the next self-chosen activity.
A visitor observing our Montessori classroom might wonder, “What is the point of this activity? Shouldn’t a child be focusing on reading and writing rather than making soap bubbles?” Practical life activities do seem a little mysterious to the untrained eye. However, they play an important role in the development of a child in a Montessori classroom.
Consider, first, the steps a child must remember in order to do a work like whisking successfully. Recalling and executing sequences prepares a child for academic works in language and math. Next, the fine motor that the work requires of the child readies their hand for writing. Even the way that they are taught to maneuver the whisk mimics letter formation. Finally, the child develops their ability to concentrate and focus on a task. Developing their ability to concentrate prepares the mind for completing challenging academic works in the future. Beyond all of these preparations is the subliminal lesson in independence and respect for the environment that the child is receiving. Who knew a simple activity such as whisking could teach a young child so much?
“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence,” Dr. Maria Montessori