Material Highlight: Dressing Frames

So much of what we do in our Montessori environments is with the goal of the child’s independence in mind. They may need our support sometimes, but children are capable of much more than many people realize.

Each of our environments has ways of implementing practical life skills and practice activities that are developmentally appropriate and engaging for the children that will use them. While children of all ages benefit from practical life work, it tends to be the most obvious and discussed in the primary classroom. This is likely because between the ages of three and six, children are achieving physical autonomy for the first times in their lives. Their days revolve around finding ways to be physically independent from the adults in their lives.

What could be more empowering to the primary child than being able to dress themselves?

Enter: the dressing frames. Simply put, this series of materials was created so that the child is able to practice a wide variety of closure methods that they will encounter on all different types of clothing.

It all begins with a tall, narrow, wooden stand. This stand was developed to store and display twelve separate wooden frames in a way that is accessible to the children without taking up excessive floor space in the classroom. This four-sided tower has enough space for three frames on each side.

Each frame is made of wood with fabric attached to create a surface. On each frame two separate pieces of fabric meet in the center with various types of fasteners for the child to learn about and use. These include:

  • Small buttons

  • Large buttons

  • Bow tying

  • Lacing

  • Hook and eye

  • Safety pins

  • Snapping

  • Zipping

  • Buckling