Pom-Poms vs. Broccoli

Practical Life activities should be, above all else, practical: real activities that have a purpose and a goal. Practical Life IMG_0309should never, EVER be busy work. Busy work is insulting to the child’s intelligence and developmental drives.

So, let’s say you want to introduce transferring with tongs. Instead of the ubiquitous pom-poms you see all over Pinterest, how about using broccoli?

Here’s what I did with Zach (who just turned 3), when he asked if he could help in the kitchen:

I had already chopped some broccoli (before he asked to help), so I put it in a bowl and had him transfer it piece by piece from the bowl to the hot buttered pan with a pair of long tongs (he has small ones but I didn’t want him to burn himself by getting his hand too close to the pan).

Then, I showed him how to use the tongs to toss the broccoli so it would cook evenly. When the it was ready, I invited him to transfer it back to the IMG_0306bowl.

He’s been cooking over a hot stove for over a year now, so I only had to remind him at the beginning to work carefully and not touch the pan or the heat source. When he was transferring the cooked broccoli back to the bowl, he dropped one stalk.  He picked it up with his hand, and immediately dropped it again.  It was hot!  Good learning experience…

He was so proud of his contribution to our meal, and he learned so much in that short amount of time.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take broccoli over pom-poms any day.

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5 thoughts on “Pom-Poms vs. Broccoli

  1. In the toddler classroom of my former Montessori school (currently taking time off to stay home with my children), they have a practical life area. In the past, this area used pom poms and other such materials for the children to transfer/pour. They often struggle with finding items that one actually transfers for a purpose – other than transferring/ pouring real food items during meal/snack times.

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to what they can use for transferring and pouring. Or should there not be an area set up with these materials?

    1. I’m not A to I trained, so I can’t speak for the Toddler Community. But if you do enough food prep in the classroom, children will get plenty of opportunities to transfer items. Scooping flour into a bowl for a recipe, transferring tomatoes from container to bowl with tongs for a salad, etc. Just think about the skill you want the child to practice, and where you would use it in a real-life setting.

  2. We have a pom pom sorting work (colour sorting) that my daughter loves and I think it has helped her learn how to use tongs a little bit. How she really learned to use tongs was putting croutons into her tomato soup! Ability to use tongs + eating more vegetables!

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