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Pouring Beans

Sweet Pea is 30 months old.


From: I found this activity in the book Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives by David Gettman, Teach Me To Do It Myself by Maja Pitamic and also on the exceptional Wonder Years blog.


  • 2 small, equally-sized measuring cups or other spouted containers.
  • Enough beans to fill one of the cups about two-thirds full.
  • A tray (optional, but highly recommended for containing spilled beans).



  • Fill one of the cups with the beans.
  • Arrange the two cups facing each other on the tray as show above.  Put the cup with beans on the same side as your dominant hand.
  • Sit next to your tot and tell them you are going to demonstrate pouring the beans and then you will let them try it.
  • Place your non-dominant hand on the handle of the empty cup to stabilize it.
  • Carefully wrap your fingers around the handle of the bean cup, making sure your thumb is on top and slowly lift it off of the table.
  • Use an exaggerated slowness as you pour the beans into the empty cup.
  • Gently set the now empty cup back down.
  • Rotate the position of the cups so that the new cup with beans is near your dominant hand again.
  • Repeat the demonstration.
  • Let your tot have a turn.


Observations: Most adults pour things multiple times a day without thinking much about it, but pouring makes an excellently challenging activity for tots.  This was the perfect skill level for Sweet Pea.  (It’s good to know that I can occasionally get one right.)


At first she went too fast and the beans would spill.  I had to remind her to slow down, but she got better with practice.  It required a lot of concentration, but she loved pouring the beans back and forth.  She worked on this for quite some time.  I would highly recommend this activity for other tots.

I am pretty sure Sweet Pea is right handed, but she frequently used her left hand to pour the beans back into the starting cup (instead of switching the cups around).   I thought about correcting her, but decided not to say anything.  I’d hate to think that she’s actually left handed and I’d forced her into using her right.


Notes from the Trenches: We used baby Lima beans because that’s what I had, but I think that smaller (navy beans or lentils) would have worked better.

Beans are obviously a choking hazard and they end up on the floor easily.  Make sure you keep an eye on your tot and be careful about picking up all the dropped beans.

The book Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives suggests using your non-dominant hand to stabilize the cup as you pour.  I tried this several times and thought it was  terribly awkward.  Since I couldn’t do it smoothly, I decided to just use one hand for pouring.  Sweet Pea didn’t seem to have any trouble holding the cup steady in only one hand, but if your tot seems to be having difficulty, you might want to have them use both hands when pouring.

Rating: 4 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Independent, Frugal)

7 comments to Pouring Beans

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