tea pouring: a practical life skill

lets have a cup of tea

Practical life skills. 

I think they are important. 

And I think that kindergarten is a perfect time to teach and practice them.  

So, if my kidlets don't arrive knowing how to set a table, hang up laundry, or pour a cup of tea when they arrive in September, they will by the time they move on in June.

My kidlets can set the tablehang up laundry, fold laundry, wipe the tables, sweep the floor, and AND they can pour a cup of tea.

Maria Montessori believed in the importance and value of young children learning what she referred to as practical life skills.  She believed that children are naturally interested in activities that they have witnessed adults engaged in; learning practical life skills allows the child to adapt himself to his society.

Following Montessori tradition, I presented the tray to the class.

I demonstrated step by step the procedure for pouring a cup of tea.

The teapot is held by the handle with two fingers inside the handle and the thumb on top.  A finger from the other hand holds the teapot lid.  The tea is poured slowly and carefully into the teacup.

When the tea is poured into the cup, the teapot is returned to the tray, the lid removed, the funnel placed into it, and the water poured back into the teapot through the funnel.

And then the tray is left ready for the next person. Or the pouring and re-pouring is repeated.

We talked about trying not to spill any of the water.  But if some water did spill (by accident), that was okay, we are allowed to make mistakes.  And the cloth is there for a reason.

We also talked about the fact that the teapot and the cup and saucer were made out of china.  And that they would break if they fell on the ground.  Montessori philosophy is that children use real objects, not plastic child imitations of real objects.  I told the kidlets that I trusted them to be very careful with things that are fragile.

Again following the Montessori tradition, this (and all our "trays") are individual activities.  Our rule is that one person uses the tray at a time, and she or he is allowed to stay there as long as they wish.  "I'm just watching" is discouraged, since that often makes the tray user feel  rushed.

The trays and other practical life activities (except for sweeping the floor when they make a mess) are always a kidlet's choice.

I am delighted with the focus and concentration the kidlets engage when they are pouring.  The sense of accomplishment when they have completed all the tasks "without spilling one drop"  is tangible (and written all over their faces).

The Montessori philosophy of learning and teaching (guiding) and the beautiful Montessori environments challenge me to incorporate them into my classroom and teaching practice.

disclaimer:  I am not a Montessori teacher; I do not have Montessori training.  I have learned at the blogs (rather than the feet) of masters and by visiting Montessori schools and chatting with teachers who use Montessori principles.  I do not have a Montessori classroom; I try to use Montessori elements in my class.  Check out these blogs - they are the masters!

Montessori Journey - Laura ran a Montessori pre-school but is currently homeschooling her sons.  Check out her archives for fabulous ideas.

Living Montessori Now - Deb's blog explains the Montessori guiding/learning philosophy, has Youtube clips and loads of wonderful ideas that invite learning in any classroom.



  1. That's a lovely philosophy. I did lots of Montessori reading when my boys were little and I remember doing some of this with them. I just bought the most beautiful little table for my classroom. A tea service is the perfect thing to place on it.
    Thanks for another great idea, Sandi!
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. I can't wait to see your classroom when it is all set up. Pictures please!


  2. I am thinking about doing something similar in my new classroom. I have to think about what skills I want them to master. I wish I could teach egg cracking, but I'm pretty sure that'd be frowned upon.

    However, I was delighted to see that there were a ton of toys (very plastic-y but still) in my classroom. If you recall at my last first grade appointment, I had to hide toys because (and I quote) "we don't do toys in first grade."

    1. Baking is math. And it is cracking eggs!

      Glad there are toys in your new room. Means that toys are "allowed" in grade one. Tables?


  3. Thanks for sharing.
    The child is so great.



Back to Top