Faith and Handwashing

Trusting the process of the Montessori method takes a lot of faith. Working with toddlers increases my faith in the method. This week I witnessed a toddler on her way to mastering the skill of handwashing. In the process, I also watched a younger toddler observing her work. I have faith that one day, he can master this skill as well. Through the spills, falls, and sometimes tears, my faith in the Montessori method continues to grow knowing that these important skills are being mastered.


Handwashing Work

The practical life skill of handwashing is introduced to the child at 18 months old. Supplies include a bowl, pitcher, soap dish with bar soap, apron, and hand towel. You will notice that we practice this skill at a table of proper height for the toddler. Doing this makes it easier for the student to focus on the task at hand without the complication of a step stool or awkwardness of a sink.


  1. Child puts on an apron.

  2. Child takes pitcher to a water source and fills the pitcher with water. They then walk it back to the handwashing table.

  3. Child pours water into the bowl.

  4. Child wets their hands in the bowl.

  5. Child takes soap and lathers their hands.

  6. Child washes their hands.

  7. Child dries their hands with the hand towel.  

  8. Child pours dirty water into a bucket.

  9. Child walks dirty water bucket to bigger bucket.

  10. Child pours the water into the bigger bucket.

  11. Child walks empty bucket back to the dishwashing station.

Beyond the obvious need to clean one’s hands, this work helps children to focus, concentrate, and practice hand-eye coordination. Importantly, it also helps children to learn patience. This is my favorite Montessori activity to observe toddlers to master.