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Picture of DIY Montessori Dressing Frames for Practical Life Skills

In 2018, I won the biggest lottery of my life. That is, my son was drawn by lottery to take one of the two openings of Montessori school in the district on public basis.

Upon first visit of the classroom, I was impressed by the didactic materials and classroom environment. I thought we were lucky to have the best teacher in the world, it's all her ideas. Before the visit, I knew almost nothing of the Montessori Method except the name. So my son was not raised in accordance to the Montessori education philosophy or approach up until then. For example, like many others, we dressed our son, doing things like button his shirt, zip his coat and tie his laces so that life seems to go faster and easier. This is exactly the opposite of the Montessori Method.

In the Montessori method, Dr. Montessori created a series of dressing frames, which she called the fastening games for children to practice practical life skills. Through the use of such toys, the children can practically analyse the movements necessary in dressing and undressing themselves, and can prepare themselves separately for these movements by means of repeated exercise. Thus, parents or teachers can succeed in teaching the child to dress himself without his really being aware of it, that is, without any direct or arbitrary command he is lead to his mastery.

Dr. Montessori started her work with deficient children. The difference is plainly seen from the fact that the same materials, such as dressing frames, used with deficient children makes education possible, while with normal children it provokes auto-education.

Provoking children's auto-education is a huge part in the Montessori education and the difference from common parents' and others' practices which give direct commands or do the movements for the children. It is quite common once children pass the stage of learning certain skills, they have neither mastered the skills, nor have they any interest to learn them anymore. This is a confirmed tough truth I knew from raising my first child and also from the famous wild boy found near Aveyron. Every time when I think of my being ignorant of the scientific pedagogy of The Montessori Method up until now, and the areas of my first child's formation that could be better, I felt regret, to say the least. However, there is no medicine for regret. I decided to read more about it and try to practice more of it in my remaining parenting-educating life. So far, I have read three books on the topic. I'm listening to the fourth book. And I compiled a list of 12 books plus one DVD to awake the Montessori educator potential in every parent.

For Montessori dressing frames, as far as I know, there are 12 frames. There are usually kept standing in wooden box stand or in a wooden shelf stand. They are quite expensive. In this Instructable, I show how to make six of the most common dressing frames using used toddler clothes. And I decided to hang them on a wall at the height of 3- to 4- year old in his activity center. If you have a two or three years old child, it's perfect time to make these toys for them. Hope this Instructable will come in handy as reference.

Materials and Tools Used:

  • 6 Toddler shirts ( preferably one button shirt, one zipper shirt, one snap shirt, thus the job to install these fasteners is eliminated in later steps.)
  • 1 Piece of long lace or 1 piece of yarn and 2 pieces of 1" packing tape to tape the ends of the yarn
  • 2 10 feet long 1/2" PVC pipe or 5/8" wooden dwell
  • 24" long 1/2" wooden dwell, cut into 6 of 4" long each

Below are the steps.

Note: This article may contain affiliate links as references for the same or similar products used in this project. If you click on the links and make purchases I could receive a small percentage of commission from the advertising company with no extra cost to you.

Step 1: Collect 6 Used Toddler Shirts


Preferably one button shirt, one zipper shirt, one snap shirt, thus the job to install these fasteners is eliminated in later steps.