“This is a mess!” A child from our class picked up a branch with some twigs on the end and began to sweep pine needles into a pile. He examined the stairs that lead up the hill in the courtyard. He busily swept them off as well. Other children ran around him playing house; the big rock was their home and the sandbox was the airport (La Guardia to be precise). They were flying to California to get some sun. Two other children sat on large roots and made train sounds. One boy manned the engine while the other was fixing the motor in the engine. With all this going on, the child who was sweeping continued to busily make piles of pine needles.
After three piles were made, he began to walk around by the boundary carrying his stick broom. After he perused one pile of logs for a few minutes, he lay down his stick and returned to his piles. He picked up one of the piles, ran over to the boundary and dumped the pine needles into the pile of logs. He ran back to get his next pile of needles. Once the final pile was deposited in the log pile, he grabbed his stick and began to sweep up the needles that had fallen when he carried the piles over. “Look! I raked them all up. It was everywhere and now I have to get more” he called out to his teacher. He had already begun to rake together his next pile.
The role of Practical Life extends far beyond the classroom. These activities encourage independence, coordination, concentration and order. These are the foundational skills of the Montessori classroom and where a child truly begins their education.