Wednesday 10 April 2013


Montessori Activity: Transferring Rye Grains

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes


1. To train the child’s fine motor skills - also pincer grip when picking up spilled rice.
2. To teach the concept of empty and full.


1. 1 cup filled with rye grains
2 canister jar
3. 1 spoon
4. 1 Tray


1. Demonstrate to your child by pouring rice from the cup on right hand side into the cup on the left hand side.

2. Encourage and let your child try it.

Additional Information:

J (2Y1M5D) tried this activity this morning 10 April 2012, while I was busy preparing his breakfast, but it lasted only 5 minutes, before he started declaring "Mommy, I have finished". And it was not as if he has perfected scooping - there were rye grains spilled on the tray (although he could pour his own milk every morning well without spilling). I would have like him to last longer now at the age of 4. While putting back the tray, he spilled all the grains! That means cleaning!!! Fortunately, the thought of it as another opportunity for practical life activity took away my dread of having to bring the vaccuum cleaner out. I took out the vaccuum cleaner and J and I enjoyed the cleaning up. In fact, he enjoyed using the vaccuum cleaner more than transferring the rye grains.

Boy, it was 2 years ago since I first put out the pouring tray. It brought back fond memories. It has been quite some time since I did practical life activities with J, as I was busy compiling Maths lesson plan and doing them with J. Yesterday, I tried this with more interesting items so that it is not an "old" activity.

I am kinda paranoid. When I am doing academic activities with J such as Maths, writing, etc. I worry that I am too academic-focused, and not giving him a good grounding in practical life skills (one which I did not have growing up in academic-focused Singapore).

When I focus on practical life skills, I worry about not being rigorous enough with the academic pursuit to give him a good head start. Arrrhhhhh.... I am a very insecure mom, be it with child's education or parenting.

A friend of mine told me that perhaps it is too young to start writing practice with J. Sometimes, he is not holding his pencil perfectly correct. At times, he is leaning his head a little too down when writing. It is important to have correct pencil holding when a child is young, my friend told me, which I agree. And posture is very important too. J is leaning towards the worksheet too much, my friend told me.

In times like this, it is comforting to run to Daddy for a second opinion, who is usually more objective and less of a worrier than Mommy. So I asked him every now and then, "Am I pressuring J too much? Am I killing his joy for learning? Am I doing the right thing with these activities to train his concentration and ability to complete a task? etc. etc." Daddy assured me that J seems to be loving his homework, and willing to do it, and that I am not pressuring J at all with the academic work that I am doing. Of course, I tend to see the places he needs to improve - for example, I think he should be more focused and last longer in an activity. Of course, he is still quite a typical boy, compared to girls his age, Daddy reminded me. And I trust Daddy's judgment more than anyone else.

Anyway, I am bringing back practical life activities, and going at a more relaxed pace with the academic (if I can help it)... I don't want to take away J's childhood at such a young age.

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