Transferring activities are one of the standard practices in Montessori classrooms. Moving small things or liquids from one container to the next gives children a chance to practice their motor skills.
I have been wanting to offer Greysen some new manipulatives for some time, but was not really sure what would interest her. I did not really want to buy anything new, so after a short rummage through my kitchen for inspiration I decided to offer her a transferring activity using dry objects for her first time. I gathered some dry beans from our kitchen cupboard, an egg tray, and a medicinal spoon, and invited her to try it out. This spooning activity required no explanation. She went right to work!
Working with smallish objects is challenging and requires both the attention and focus of the child. Just look at that concentration!
This spoon was ideal for this activity because she could see it fill with beans after every scoop.
I now wonder what else I can find in my kitchen for her to sort these into. She was so occupied with this that even when her Abuelita (Grandmother) dropped by for a visit, Greysen persisted in filling each space with beans.
At 18 months, Greysen is eager to try to do many of the things that I used to do for her for herself. To make the most of this emerging independence, I am always on the lookout for new ways in which she can assert herself constructively. In support of her developing skills, I offer Greysen a small pitcher of water or milk at each meal so that she can pour her drink into her cup.
In this video, Greysen is learning to pour her liquids from pitcher to cup. As she is learning, I offer her guidance. After she has poured her water/milk, I generally set the pitcher out of reach to reduce the chance she’ll play with it. In the first part of the video, you’ll notice that she spills, pours back and forth, and drops her glass pitcher. In the second part, a few days later she has become more familiar with the routine and she pours easily.
Foundational to Montessori teachings, the development of “practical life skills,” such as those developed while pouring your own drink, are opportunities for young children to be active participants in their everyday lives and routines. By incorporating the practical life skill of transferring water from pitcher to cup at meals, Greysen is making a genuine contribution to her care. Yes, this practice also hones her hand-eye coordination and strength, but it also contributes to her feelings of personal responsibility.
Any small creamer would make a suitable pitcher. We bought a glass creamer from Montessori Services, but in the classroom I have used stainless steel creamers that worked just as well, if not better.
My 3 Favorite Pitchers for Learning How to Pour:
1. A Small Stainless Steel Creamer
This creamer is small and lightweight, and since many toddlers first pour their drinks from the wrist rather than by lifting their arm and shoulder, this is a great choice for a first pitcher.
2. Faceted Acrylic Creamer
If stainless steel isn’t for you and glass is not an option, this pitcher still offers the visibility I look for in all Greysen’s dishes. The creamer is lightweight and easy for children to handle on their own.
3. Small Glass Creamer
Though this is the pitcher we have, I don’t think its necessarily the easiest to learn from. Though the design of some of the porcelain pitchers would make spills minimal, the tradeoff in lack of visibility isn’t worth it. The pitcher is a little heavy, and Greysen still needs a little help to lift it high enough to get the last drops. However, I like that there is still a little bit of a challenge left in a skill that she has nearly mastered.