Tag Archives: Transportation

Sink the Boat: Practical Life Lesson

As part of my Montessori internship I was required to chose a theme or topic to present to the children over the course of a three week period. This assignment was know as, “the year end project.” This project included circle (or group) time activities, songs, books, etc., as well as shelf lessons for all areas of the classroom. The theme for my year end project was transportation.

One shelf lesson that I created for practical life was particularly popular with the children. I called it the “Sink the Boat” lesson. I felt that this lesson complimented our transportation theme as well as the sink and float experiments that are part of the Montessori science curriculum. This lesson also combines skills such as tweezing (fine motor) and straining.

Here is a picture of the shelf lesson:








Here is my write-up on how to present this lesson. Please remember that this is my original write-up and to my knowledge, my own unique idea (although I have seen a variation of it elsewhere) :

Sink the Boat

Transfer Using Tweezers


  1. One bowl (filled with water to “fill” line)
  2. One small condiment cup filled with shells
  3. One small, shallow boat
  4. Tweezers
  5. Small strainer
  6. Small sponge
  7. Small hand towel
  8. Tray

Invitation: “I would like to give you a lesson in the practical life area. I am going to give you a lesson on transferring shells with tweezers.”


  1. Select a mat and place it on table.
  2. Select the lesson from the shelf and carry it to the table.
  3. Remove the small hand towel from the tray and place it on mat.
  4. Pick up tweezers with your dominate hand.
  5. Using the tweezers, select one shell from the condiment cup and place the shell into the boat.
  6. Using the tweezers, continue to pick up shells, one at a time, until the boat floating in the bowl of water sinks to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Once the boat has sunk, place tweezers on the tray to the right of the condiment cup.
  8. Reach your hand into the bowl of water and carefully remove the boat (be sure not to spill the shells) and place the boat on the sponge that is located on your tray.
  9. You may dry your hands on the small hand towel that you placed on your mat earlier. After drying your hands, place the towel back on the mat for the time being.
  10. Pick up the strainer with your dominate hand and place it over the bowl of water (The strainer handle should rest on one side of the bowl and the curved tip of the strainer should rest of the opposite side of the bowl so that that strainer remains in place on its own).
  11. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and gently pour the shells from the boat into the strainer.
  12. Place the boat back onto the sponge.
  13. With your dominate hand, grab the handle of the strainer and pour the shells back into the condiment cup (Place two fingers from your sub-dominate hand near the rim of strainer to help steady the strainer as you pour.
  14. Return the strainer to the tray.
  15. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and carefully return it to the bowl of water.
  16. If there are any splashes of water on mat or table, use the small hand towel to gently wipe up the spills.
  17. Stand up, push in your chair and toss the small hand towel in laundry basket.
  18. Replenish lesson by getting a new hand towel and place it on tray above the sponge.
  19. Return lesson to the shelf and put away mat.

Note: If at any time there is water in the boat, you may strain out the shells as indicated above and use the small hand towel to dry out the boat.

Control of Error:

  1. Shells in bowl of water instead of inside the boat.
  2. Shells spilled on table or surrounding area.

Points of Interest:

  1. The sound of shells dropping into the boat.
  2. Watching the boat sink.
  3. The sound of pouring the shells into the strainer.
  4. The sound of pouring the shells back into the condiment cup.
  5. The strainer itself.
  6. The water itself.



  1. Develop coordination, order, concentration and independence.
  2. Development of self-esteem and confidence.
  3. Develop hand/eye coordination.
  4. Development of the pincer grasp.


  1. Develop the ability to use a pair of tweezers.
  2. Develop the ability to use a strainer.


  1. Change the size of the boat.
  2. Use a strawberry huller instead of tweezers.
  3. Change the type of material uses to sink the boat (instead of shells use beads or marbles).