Montessori Method: Learning to Pour

In August, I published the first Montessori Methods guest post by Tim Seldin. I’ve tried to be mindful about incorporating Montessori-inspired activities in our playtime. Although my son is 2.5 years and can easily (and enthusiastically) pour water, he still enjoys pouring and scooping dried lentils. I’ve noticed that pouring is an extremely calming activity for him and he often seeks it out when he’s upset about something as a way to calm down. Tell us about your experiences with this simple activity in the comments below!


Learning to pour liquids is much easier if you give your child small pitchers with handles that are the right size for her small hands, and which are not too heavy for her to control when they are full. The entire process is also made much easier if as a first step you teach your children how to pour something dry, such as uncooked rice or lentils, from one small pitcher to another. For this first exercise, very small pitchers such as those used for cream are the best size. If you put a colored tray under the pitchers, any spilled rice or lentils will be contained and can be easily seen and cleaned up.

Show your child how to grasp the handle of the pitcher using whichever hand she is most comfortable with. Demonstrate how to support the pitcher just under the spout with her other hand. This gives her maximum control. The exercise is to pour the dry rice or lentils from one pitcher into the other. When done, she repeats the process with the other pitcher. Emphasize the importance of being careful. “Darling, see if you can pour the rice from one pitcher to the other without spilling a single grain of rice.”

When your child has mastered this task, you can make it more challenging by giving her slightly larger pitchers, and then by having her try to pour the rice into a glass. You can make it more likely that your child will succeed by not putting more rice into the pitcher than the glass will hold.

Finally, when your child is ready, replace the dried rice with water. Challenge her to pour the water into the glass without spilling a drop. Remember, this process is not learnt in a day! It takes most young children many months of practice to gain the eye-hand control needed to pour correctly.


by Tim Seldin

President, The Montessori Foundation

Chair, The International Montessori Council


And a few more ideas…

DSC09899When my son was very young, one of the first things he poured was buttons. He loved the sound they made clinking against the glass bowls!

DSC09819It’s an easy travel game! I’ve let my son practice pouring his snack from one cup to another on the airplane. It keeps him occupied while he has a bite to eat.


 Sometimes I’ll add a few drops of food coloring for color-mixing fun. Of course, all the colors mixed together gets you muddy-green!


When I’m feeling especially patient and brave, I’ll let him use his pouring skills to help me bake.

How does your little one do with pouring? 


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