Dollar Tree- Practical Life Materials

Practical life activities help your child learn to help themselves. By giving your child materials to help with everyday tasks, they become a lot more confident in their ability to do things, and actually want to help you around the house with various tasks. It's nice having a little helper who wants to keep things as tidy as you do. (Okay that might be exaggerating, but you know what I mean!) I also love having a little helper in the kitchen and love teaching Ella things at a young age, that I didn't learn until I was much older. Many assume that implementing Montessori-related activities is expensive or impossible to do on a budget, but this is simply not true. Here are some very affordable practical-life materials you can find right at your local Dollar Tree. (Not sponsored, I just love The Dollar Tree.)

Practical Life Materials-

Flower Arranging- There's a great selection of glass and ceramic vases, as well as faux plastic flowers, perfect for flower arranging. The vases can also be used for pouring and transferring activities. We also like to use the plastic flowers (without the stems) in our sensory bins. The glass vase scares some parents but using breakable materials presents a great opportunity to teach your child about caring for those materials and the environment. Always do what you're comfortable with though.

Plant Watering- The Dollar Tree has a great selection of watering cans for your little one to start practice watering plants and the garden. I have also seen mini metal watering cans there, which are super cute and possibly meant for decoration but would work great for your learning little.


Towel Folding- Kitchen towel and washcloth options are endless. If your child is new to towel folding, choose a smaller option like a washcloth vs the kitchen towel. We drew on our wash clothes with a sharpie so Ella knows where to fold. While you're shopping towels, grab some for your little one to use for cleaning up as well. 


Sweeping- House cleaning is something you should definitely get your little one involved in, if you haven't already. The Dollar Tree has a great selection of hand-held brooms and dustpans, as well as miniature brooms and dustpans. 


Window Washing- There is a variety of spray bottles at The Dollar Tree, but be sure to buy one that fits your little one's hand, and one they can use and spray independently. You can pair this with a microfiber cloth or a squeegee for a great window washing activity. Ella loves using her spray bottle to 'clean' all over the house.

Dusting- There are a few different dusters options, but find one that fits your littles ones hand the best. We like this blue duster and Ella uses it to clean the shelves on the TV stand often! 

Sock Matching- You can easily do a sock matching activity using your child's own socks too. But if you want to have socks just meant for practicing sock matching, The Dollar Tree has a great fun selection of options. I prefer to have separate socks for this activity because I don't want all of Ella's good socks going missing. Just because it starts on her shelf, doesn't mean it always gets put back on the shelf. We're working on that... :) 

Drinking- In a traditional Montessori setting, you would have your child use an open cup for drinking pretty much immediately. We did and still use sippy cups and cups with straws. However, we have several of these little jars (lids removed) and Ella used them as her very first open cups. They actually worked for us really well. Any shot glass would work well too.

Snack Preparation- There are so many small kitchen gadgets and tools that are so perfect for your toddler to start gaining some independence in the kitchen. Ella has her own little basket of kitchen tools and she loves knowing they are HERS and loves using them even more. Preparing her own snacks has become a favorite activity of hers. She loves using her mini wooden cutting board, using her corer for her apples, and squeezing her own lemon juice on top (to prevent the leftovers from turning brown.) There's many options of cutting boards and juicing materials, so take a look around! 

Cooking- The Dollar Tree has a great selection of miniature cooking utensils, and they come in a variety of fun colors. Ella has the little whisk and a set of tongs, which she loves. They also have tons of measuring cup options- plastic, metal and glass. Get things you can keep strictly for your little one to use. Ella's favorite thing to do in life is help me prepare meals. I always try to find something fun for her to do, whether it's peeling the onions, picking leaves off the cilantro, or pouring things for me. Egg cracking? Her FAVORITE. 

Pouring & Transferring-

Look for a variety of different bowls, cups, and pouring vessels to set up pouring and transferring activity trays. We actually love the plastic cup and dishes that you can find in the 'party' section. I don't like to have TOO many breakable materials out and about, just because I am then always in a state of paranoia. Ella treats her plastic dishes just like the glass ones, but there's less worry on my end. In addition to bowls, cups and pouring vessels, the Dollar Tree has a variety of beans and rice which act as perfect fillers for these types of activities. 


Open & Closing-

Jars with removable lids, boxes with removable tops and boxes with removable drawers are all great practice for opening/closing. Many of these materials can be used to create great shelf activities too. Find the best material for whatever stage your little one is at. I have even seen little boxes like this...

Although there are none listed on their website right now... Boo! 

As you can see, Dollar Tree offers lots of practical life materials for your toddler. Creating these activities for your toddler does not need to be stressful or expensive. I hope you found this information useful if you are looking to incorporate Montessori practices into your home. Happy shopping! :)

-Ashley & Ella


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