Water and the Montessori Toddler

The Importance of Water in the Toddler Classroom

Water is always of high interest in the Montessori Toddler Classroom. A toddler who is learning to wash their hands, how to pour water from a pitcher, or free playing with a variety of tools is also discovering comfort, excitement and ultimately, independence. While it may seem messy at times, the exploration of water is work that is refining fine and gross motor skills and developing eye-hand coordination. Each exercise the child takes part in is allowing for greater success and confidence.

“Under the urge of nature and according to the laws of development, though not understood by the adult, the child is obliged to be serious about two fundamental things … the first is the love of activity… the second fundamental thing is independence.”  – Maria Montessori

Water Work

There are many ways that water is incorporated into the daily curriculum of a Toddler Classroom and the benefits of water exploration and use are endless!

Our water table is a perfect space for toddlers to use their hands to explore a variety of tools while playing in the water.  Children strengthen their hand muscles, use hand-eye coordination, and take in new information through their senses by exploring water with their hands.

The water tray is always available for children to pour themselves a glass of water when they feel thirsty.  Through the use of a small glass pitcher, this practical life work allows toddlers to learn how to maneuver their hands and body to carefully lift, tilt, and pour water from the pitcher into the cup.  Toddlers develop the concept of volume by seeing how much water can fit into the cup and refine their control and coordination. Pouring gives the child more independence both in the Montessori classroom and at home. It is a self-correcting work that needs no teacher intervention.

Dish washing is one of the most popular care of environment works in the Toddler Classroom.  In this lesson, toddlers use a larger pitcher to fill from the water jug, carefully carry and pour it into the water basins, and then use a sponge and soap to scrub, wash, and then lay to dry each dish and cup.  When toddlers take part in dish washing they are developing early physics concepts such as motion and flowing water.  Toddlers may be making predictions about which items may sink or float, how much water would fit in the cup, or practicing transferring water from one object to another.  This lesson is also a wonderful opportunity to provide toddlers with an abundance of new language.  When the dishes have been washed, toddlers empty the basins of water into a large bucket and carefully carry it to the sink to get dumped out.  This is one of the greatest parts of the lesson, as it provides toddlers with the opportunity of using maximum effort of their bodies and muscles to complete a task.

Other activities that include the use of water in the Toddler classroom include watering plants, water transferring activities, Zen board, and lessons on hand washing.