Wood Polishing

From Montessori Album
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Wood Polishing
Practical Life - Care of the Environment
Wood Polishing 14.jpg
Age4 - 6
PrerequisitesEyedropper Transfer
Using a Sponge
Materialswaterproof placemat
wood polish in dropper bottle
3 minute sand timer
small glass or ceramic dish
cloth to apply polish
cloth to wipe off excess polish
cloth to buff polish

This activity teaches the child how to polish wood.


Have a stack of each type of polishing cloth on the shelf next to the tray. Lay them out in the order that they will be used.
Have objects to be polished in a contained to the left of the tray (The objects that have been polished go in a container to the right.)

  1. Put on an apron. Have the child put on an apron, also.
  2. Take the placemat to a table.
    Wood Polishing 1.jpg
  3. Select an item to be polished and place it on the tray.
  4. Take the tray to the table. (Set the tray above or to the left of the placemat depending on space available.)
    Wood Polishing 2.jpg
  5. Set the item to be polished on the placemat. Set out the other items along the top of the placemat.
    Wood Polishing 3.jpg
  6. Put a dropperful of polish in the small dish.
    Wood Polishing 4.jpg Wood Polishing 5.jpg
  7. Take the first cloth and fold it over the fingers as shown.
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  8. Dip the cloth in the polish.
    Wood Polishing 11.jpg
  9. Apply the polish to the wood in the direction of the grain. Do this until the object has been coated in polish. Set down the cloth.
    Wood Polishing 12.jpg Wood Polishing 13.jpg Wood Polishing 14.jpg Wood Polishing 15.jpg
  10. Turn the timer over and wait the three minutes to let the polish soak in.
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  11. Take the second cloth and fold it over the fingers as with the first cloth.
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  12. Wipe off the excess polish with the cloth.
    Wood Polishing 22.jpg
  13. Set down the second cloth.
  14. Take the third cloth and fold it over the fingers.
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  15. Use the third cloth to rub in little circles on the wood until the wood is shiny.
    Wood Polishing 27.jpg
  16. Set down the third cloth.
    Wood Polishing 28.jpg
  17. Take the object to the contained for finished items.
    Wood Polishing 29.jpg
  18. Wipe out the excess polish from the dish with a cloth.
    Wood Polishing 30.jpg
  19. Take the cloths to the dirty laundry hamper.
  20. Place the other items back in the tray.
    Wood Polishing 31.jpg
  21. Use the sponge to clean the mat. Start in the top left corner and wipe to the right. Then go down a bit on the left side and wipe across to the right again. Continue in this way until the whole mat has been wiped off.
    Wood Polishing 32.jpg
  22. Return the sponge to the tray.
  23. Return the placemat to the shelf.
  24. Return the tray to the shelf.
    Wood Polishing 33.jpg
  25. Place one of each of the polishing cloths on the tray so that it is ready for the next person.
    Wood Polishing 34.jpg
  26. Wash hands.
  27. Hang up the apron.

Points of Interest

  • Seeing the difference in the shininess of the wood
  • Using the sand timer


Direct Purpose

  • To teach the child how to polish wood

Indirect Purpose

  • To teach care for items in the environment
  • To develop fine-motor skills
  • To practice patience
  • To develop attention to detail
  • To teach left to right directionality (for reading)

Control of Error

  • The polished areas will be shiny and the unpolished areas will be dull

Variations and Extensions

  • You could have one larger item to polish and each child polishes only a part of it
  • A piece of furniture could be polished


  • A cotton ball could be used instead of a cloth to apply the polish, but be aware that some children find touching cotton balls to be super creepy.

Make Your Own


  • These can be cut from old towels, old flannel shirts or sheets, old t-shirts or dress shirts
  • Cut into 4 inch squares (this is a great task for parent volunteers, or for older children)
  • If you'd like the cloths to last longer, you can hem or serge the edges (another task for a parent volunteer)

Where to Buy

Prices and links checked: 23 January 2022
(Amazon/Bookshop are affiliate links, which help cover costs of running the site.)

Montessori Wood Polishing Set
Store Price
Montessori Services $95.00
Montessori Services $46.00
Wood Polish
Store Price
Montessori Services $8.25
Montessori Services $8.25
Polishing Cloths
Store Price
Montessori Services $25.00