Handwork, in the literal sense is the work done with your hands. In Montessori, we talk about hands-on learning and practical life as they provide experiences that enable the child to work to create himself. Practical Life attends to the development of a child’s physical skills, care of the person, care of the environment, and grace and courtesy. Each of these focal points provide for the development of order, concentration, coordination, and independent functioning, in turn, building self-confidence. These experiences, or exercises, contain the very essence of Dr. Montessori’s teachings.
While I am a needle work and all kinds of handwork enthusiast, myself. It makes me so happy as I see my Lower Elementary students find it equally calming and satisfying, when they work on their masterpieces. In addition to being therapeutic, handwork also helps immensely in the development of fine motor skills as we put our finger and wrist muscles to good use and exercise.
Our classroom creates several beautiful projects that the children are excited to share with their loved ones as they are completed. It is pure joy as the children assign their projects to someone dear, even before they are done with them.
Bluebonnets are one of the wild flowers in Texas. The students created beautiful masterpieces as they embroidered bluebonnets on burlap as a Spring Needlework project. While each child’s hands were actively working, still they demonstrated deep concentration and set an example of calmness and quiet minds.
For Valentines Day, the children worked on custom made hand towels as they learned the art of cross-stitching. It is pretty impressive to see them make connections of their creations with loved ones, as they decide to gift it to them.
Their comments just add to the joy of the whole process.
‘I will save this for my grandma, till I go to Austin.’
‘I cannot wait to surprise my mom.’
‘My mom will be so proud of me.’
‘My dad loves to cook, I will give this hand towel to him for his birthday.’
‘Mrs.Niazi, if I’m done with my first heart before everyone else, can I please start another one?’
One of the students from Upper Elementary spent one of his mornings creating a potholder with the loom. His sense of order was commendable. He was so particular about the order of the colors he wanted to use and it was a pleasure to see him put his fine motor skills to use during the whole process. Upon completion he presented his creation to the Lower Elementary classroom for their peace table. He set a beautiful example of ‘grace and courtesy’ for the younger friends.