Why, besides the fact that children love them, complete pouring activities? Well, as part of the practical life curriculum of Montessori, there are several purposeful reasons for pouring activties. First, it enhances their hand coordination. It takes a lot of patience and control to learn to pour into a container from another container, and at just the right speed so whatever they are pouring doesn't end up all over the place. Also, it prepares them for later on when they can pour their own juice for a snack. It teaches them how to clean up (inevitably there will be spills with this activity). And, it teaches them independence, the feeling they can "do it themselves". It is a great self-correcting activity-it either goes into where they want it to, or it doesn't. It is also very easy to complete this activity using items you already have at home.
You don't have to start your child off with water or any other liquid. Begin with things that are easier to clean up, such as rice, sand, popcorn kernals, cheerios, tiny beads, or small dried pasta or beans. Simply provide them two containers to pour the material from one to the other. This is very hands-on and can hold their interest for a surprisingly long time. As you present the activity, show them how to hold onto the container with two hands to give them more control as they learn to pour. Provide a method of cleaning up, it could be a sponge or cloth for water or other liquids, a dust pan and small brush for dry goods, or have them complete the activity on a tray so they can easily scoop up spills with their hands.
You can change this activity often to keep interest high. Just vary the material they are pouring, the containers they are pouring with, and add a funnel sometimes. As always, keep an eye on young children during this activity so they do not put small items used for pouring in their mouths. Simple, quick, easy, and so much fun!!