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Montessori Practical Life – Dressing Frames


The Montessori Practical Life Dressing Frames are a staple in a Montessori classroom. The good news is, if you are looking for frugal ways to homeschool, there are ways to produce the work without purchasing the frames. You can create a DIY frame, use a doll and baby clothes, or real objects like a shoe with lacings.

The Montessori Dressing Frames include a buckling frame, zipping frame, bow-tying frame, snapping frame, button frame, and lacing frame.

Montessori Dressing Frames

#1 – Buckling Frame Lesson

  • Identify parts of the frame: “Wood. Fabric. Buckle. Guide.”
  • Hold the point of the strap with a 3-finger grip, thumb on top
  • Push the strap through the guide slowly until hump forms. Pause.
  • Use forefinger to pull hump up through the guide.
  • Grasp the tip of the strip and pull back very hard to the right
  • Pick up the tooth and pull through the strap ending with a strap over the tooth. Do this step with each strap
  • Point to buckle
  • Hold down the tooth with your finger and pull the strap through with the opposite hand’s finger. Do with each until all straps are free
  • Open up flaps

#2 – Zipping Frame Lesson

zipperframe e

Zipping Frame Practical Life Lesson

  1. Have the child bring the frame to the table.
  2. “Wood.”
  3. “Fabric.”
  4. Zipper.” Grasp the top of the zipper with the thumb on top, and fingers on the bottom.
  5. Slowly pull the zipper down
  6. Carefully complete
  7. Gently pull the metal piece from the channel.
  8. “Channel. Separator. Tab.”
  9. Pull apart flaps. “Open. Close.”
  10. Hold the base firmly, take the tab in another hand, and zip up slowly. Exaggerate the slow movement, ensuring the child sees the “teeth” engaging.
zipper frame

#3 – Bow Tying Frame Lesson


The child carries the frame to the table. Identify the frame: “Knot. Wood. Fabric.”

  • Use the 3-finger grip, grasp the ends of the tie and pull the ribbons out.
  • Fully extend ribbons
  • Place hand on subdominant side of fabric, tuck forefinger under the bow & pull up the bows to untie.
  • Allow the ties to fall flat.
  • Use a 3-finger grip to pull ribbons to respective sides, with the red one out to the dominant side, and the white ribbon to the sub-dominant side.
  • Open and close flaps
  • Cross the white ribbon over to the dominant side. Cross the red ribbon over to the sub-dominant side.
  • Point out the parallel position of the ribbons in the center of the frame
  • Pick up white ribbon, place above the red ribbon
  • Push under both ribbons while holding the red one down. Pull the white ribbon toward the dominant side.
  • Grasp ends of ribbons with a 3-finger grip and pulls out
  • Pick up the red ribbon about 1/3 of the way from the cross
  • Use a 3-finger grip of the sub-dominant hand to pinch lace and make a loop
  • Grasp the white/blue ribbon with the dominant hand and loop clockwise around the red loop. Push the white ribbon through the loop formed by the previous motion. Pause for a child to see a white ribbon pushed through the loop
  • Grasp each loop with a 3-finger grip and pull out to tighten the bow. Do with each bow. Invite the child to do the exercise.

#4 – Snapping Frame Lesson

snapping frame

Snapping Frame Lesson

  1. Identify the parts of the frame. “Wood. Snap. Fabric.”
  2. 3-finger grip to pull open top snap.
  3. Hold down the fabric opposite hand. Pull the snap apart. Repeat until complete.
  4. “Open. Close.”
  5. 3-finger grip. Hold back, snap. Identify the parts of the snap: “Socket. Plug.”
  6. Focus on the left snap with the dominant two fingers and thumb still holding the top, overlapping piece of the snap, secure with the dominant forefinger: “Snap.”
  7. Complete snapping. Invite the child to do the exercise.

“The preference is for education in movement – the practical activities are simply an external incentive to the education process – they provide the motive for the child to organize his movements.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

#5 – Button Frame Lesson

A girl using a Montessori button frame

You can create a DIY frame, use a doll and baby clothes, or real objects like a shoe with lacings. Below is a lesson for the Montessori Large Button Dressing Framelarge button dressing frame.


The Button Dressing Frame Lesson

  1. Have the child carry the frame to the table. Identify the parts of the frame: “Wood. Button. Fabric.”
  2. Line up button and hole
  3. Tip the button on its side, push the button halfway through the hole
  4. Do #3 with all buttons
  5. Take the bottom of the button in one hand, the fabric in the other, and ease the button through the hole. Do this step with all buttons.
  6. “Open.”
  7. Open up the frame like you’re opening up a shirt.
  8. Bring the fabric back together with the button side under. Line buttons up with holes.
  9. Tip the button on the side, pull halfway through the fabric, grasp the button and ease through the hole, and push down the fabric on the other side simultaneously.
  10. Complete all buttons. Turn to the child and ask him: “Would you like a turn?”

#6 – Lacing Frame Lesson


After the child carries the frame to the table.  Point out the parts of the frame to the child: “Bow. Lace. Eyelets.”


Slowly pull laces out of the eye-lit and open flaps


Open and close flaps: “Open. Close.”
Pull ends until even and place stretched out lace above the frame


“Eyelit.” Use dominant hand to pick up end of lace and push through the eye-lit.
Repeat procedure on opposite side


Pull laces through evenly. Continue to push the lace through with the dominant hand.
Pull the lace through with the subdominant hand.
Hold fabric down with thumb and forefinger to pull lace taut


Continue to lace up the frame to make “X”s with taut laces until you reach the top


Once you reach the top take forefinger of the dominant hand
Follow the bow-tying procedure to tie the ends of the laces at the top of the frame

If you want to purchase frames, check out the following resources:

  • Kid Advance Montessori 12 Dressing Frames with StandMontessori Dressing Frames
  • Constructive Playthings Dressing Frames SetDressing Frames
  • Montessori Outlet

For additional ideas and lessons, please take a look at my Montessori Practical Life Pinterest board.


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