How do you use this material?
Pouring is used so frequently in the Montessori classroom, from various types of Pouring available on the shelf for the child to practice, to pouring water into a basin to wash hands or dishes, to pouring water to have a drink during snack.
It is a difficult process to get the contents of one container into another container, and there are many coordinated movements involved. There are many instances when pouring is required during regular classroom life. We help the child learn to pour through practice with just pouring, so that when she wants to pour for a purpose, the skill is ready.
The very first Pouring a child would be presented in a Primary classroom would be a simple Pouring Grains activity.
We begin with Pouring Grains, rather than Pouring Water, because grains are easier to pick up than water, when a mis-pour inevitably happens. Spilling is a natural part of the process, so we also learn how to tidy that spill. The first pouring might be beans, moving to rice, then to sand, then to water.
We begin with two small, identical pitchers prepared with a small amount of grains, sitting on a tray on the shelf. The tray and pitchers are brought to a table, where the child can sit.
The adult carefully grasps the handle of the pitcher and places the other hand to balance under the spout. Slowly the pitcher is tipped, pouring the grains from one pitcher to the other, until none remain. The first pitcher is set down, and the second pitcher is grasped in the same manner.
What is a child learning?
The child is learning to pour different materials into and from a variety of containers.
What does a child not know they’re learning?
With all the different levels of pouring come different skills. Pouring from two matching containers is different from pouring to different containers, pouring through a funnel, pouring into multiple containers.
A child might be learning control — stopping when or before the vase is full, rather than overflowing. This is in fact a preparation for math, as you stop counting when you’re out of items, not when you choose to be done.
A child might be learning about physics, that the contents will always come out when the pitcher is overturned, they will always flow the same direction, gravity always wins.
A child is learning coordination, and cooperative movement with both hands. A child is exercising handedness, intuiting if either side is easier or feels more comfortable when pouring.
What can you do at home?
- A small pitcher on the table at meals gives a child a chance to practice pouring. A small amount in a small pitcher can help lead to success. The pitchers for cream are perfect!
- Have a small Pouring Grains activity on the shelf for your child to use at playtime. It can change based on interest and ability.
- Pour the way you want your child to. We can pour a heavy pitcher with one hand, but when a child tries to copy, it can lead to spills.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder