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In practical life activities there is specific terminology with precise meaning. It is necessary to thoroughly understand the way the terms are used, to avoid confusion.


Is always approximate, depending on the child's readiness to perform a task with a reasonable degree of success.


Are focal points in an activity to which the child's attention is directed. The attention and interest of the child is fixed upon these highlights in the activity, and may act as a challenge to greater effort.


Every action is made up of several movements. The teacher must analyze her movements into their component parts in the interests of clarity, precision and exactness in the presentation so the child can see how these movements are performed. This requires practice with the materials to attain absolute clarity in the presentation. "To teach the action, and at the same time destroy the possibility of imitation." By being precise but not ‘affected’, and by allowing the child to see the actions clearly the child is able to understand the steps and learn how to do them not just mimic them.


In order to perform an activity satisfactorily, children need to develop control of body movements, large and small, so as to direct their efforts toward mastery of themselves and the environment. The development of intelligence and other mental functions through purposeful activity (goal directed) requires that children develop control co-ordination of movement to experience growing confidence and competency.

There are also specific activities in Practical Life grouped under the title of Control of Movement.


A clearly defined objective that directs the manner of usage of materials. Montessori materials in a prepared environment are developmental and not teaching aids. Children need to be initiated in their use, encouraged to repeat the exercise at their own pace for as long as they wish.

CYCLE OF WORK (not to be confused with “Work Cycle)

A young child's work is intrinsically motivated, because he/she is in the process of constructing his/her personality. The child works tirelessly and repeats an activity many times. When something "within" is satisfied, the child stops, having satisfied a need. The cycle of work is complete. A degree of psychic maturation is accomplished in such a cycle of work, and the child emerges satisfied and refreshed. This phenomenon must be respected by the adult and should not be interrupted. Concentration is an integral part of a cycle of work, and most often occurs when an activity is self-chosen.


Experiences needed to prepare for functions which emerge later in development. These experiences create a readiness, a state of receptivity so when the moment occurs these experiences are already a part of the mental/physical equipment. It leads to a quicker and more accurate comprehension later: i.e. sensorial impressions prepare for mathematics which are supplied within the prepared environment to answer the child's need for purposeful activity which fortifies the total personality, physical, psychological, emotional and social.


The practical life activities have a simple concrete understandable purpose which allows the child to be actively involved in self education. Motives of activity respond to the "Sensitive Periods."


Specific links of mind/body experience. These are realizations the children become conscious of. Points may be related to the purpose, to the points of interest or to where else the skills developed can be used. An example of a point of consciousness related to the purpose of the exercise would be with window washing, the child comes to realize that it is vinegar, not all polishes that can be used to clean glass/windows. A point related to a point of interest would be that when the jug is emptied directly into the drain it makes a different sound than when the water is poured into the sink. The child may realize that she can sew a button on a piece of clothing, not just on the squares in the Sewing a Button exercise.

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