“I want to do it all by myself!” These are words often said by determined toddlers, ready to take over the world.
If your little one is striving for independence, as young children tend to do, then Montessori activities are the perfect answer. These activities are not only engaging, fun, and full of learning, but they also meet your child’s deep need to feel independent.
Whether your child attends a Montessori preschool program or you simply want to bring some Montessori activities for toddlers into your home, we’ve put together some fun activities to try. You probably already have most of the items you need to get started!
How to Present Montessori Activities for Toddlers
Before diving into the activities, it’s important to keep in mind that Montessori activities are presented in a very special way. If you’re not sure how to do it, don’t worry! We’re here to help. First, prepare the materials. Then, invite your child to the activity. If your child doesn’t want to participate, that’s ok! Simply wait and try it again at another time.
When your child is ready, here are some other tips to make sure your activity goes well. When presenting a Montessori activity to a toddler, it’s best to demonstrate more and talk less. Toddlers are still developing language skills, so it can be confusing for them if you give a long list of instructions. Instead, invite them to watch you do the activity and then ask them if they’d like a turn. You can say something like, “I’ll go first, and then you can try!” Finally, let your child repeat the activity as long as they’d like, or as long as possible. Toddlers can often achieve their best concentration if adults are nearby, but not hovering over them. So, while your toddler is working, you might get some chores done in the same room or read a book. Then, when your child is finished, you can clean up the materials together.
Five Montessori Activities for Toddlers
Here are five fun Montessori activities for toddlers to try with your little one. These activities are all appropriate for children aged two and up. You know your child best, so pick an activity that you think they’ll enjoy and succeed with. Most of all, have fun!
1. Preparing a Snack
Materials: Child-sized table, child-safe knife, stool, ingredients for snacks
How to Do It: Pick a snack that your child would enjoy. Some examples are sliced fruit with yogurt and granola, sliced cucumber, crackers with cream cheese, or mini sandwiches. Many children especially enjoy using cookie cutters to cut out pieces of bread. Then, they can spread cream cheese, peanut butter, or jam on the bread.
Set out the materials on a child-sized table. Show your child how to prepare the snack. For example, bananas and strawberries are easy for toddlers to chop with a bread knife or child-safe knife. Demonstrate how to slice them and invite your child to try. Then, invite your child to spoon some yogurt into a small bowl and arrange the fruit on top. Finally, sprinkle some granola onto the snack. Invite your child to enjoy their snack. Then, clean up together.
Other snacks and meals can be prepared in a similar manner. If possible, keep supplies and snacks where your child can easily access them. For example, you can store a few plates, cups, and some cutlery in a low cupboard. Also, add some crackers or non-perishable items there. You can keep fresh fruit in a basket on a child-sized table. Or, keep cold items on a low shelf in your refrigerator. As your child learns to prepare more and more snacks, you can provide more supplies and show your child how to access them.
Benefits: Cooking and preparing snacks with children brings many benefits! This Montessori activity for toddlers helps children build practical skills, improve their hand-eye coordination, improve hand strength, and become more independent. Plus, research shows that when children cook, they tend to enjoy healthier diets and be more willing to try vegetables.
2. Stinging Beads
Materials: A shoe-string, large wooden beads, a basket
How to Do It: Place the materials in a basket. Tie a knot on one end of the shoestring. Then, demonstrate how to add a bead to the shoestring. Invite your child to try the activity. When finished, your child can remove the beads from the string again and repeat the activity if desired. Finally, find a place in the house to keep this Montessori activity where your child can easily access it and do it again.
Benefits: Stringing beads offers many benefits such as improving concentration, and enhancing fine motor skills.
3. Using a Salt Tray to Make Shapes or Letters
Materials: A large tray, salt, letter flashcards or index cards and markers
How to Do It: Pour salt onto the tray so that there is about a quarter inch of salt on the tray. Ideally, the tray should be a darker color. That way, when you use your index finger to “write” on the tray, you can see a pattern. Then, choose a letter such as the letter “o.” Get out that flashcard or make a flashcard using an index card and marker. Observe the flashcard and then write the letter on the salt tray using your pointer finger. Gently shake the salt tray to erase the letter. Then, invite your child to try. If necessary, reinforce how your child can use their pointer finger to point and trace.
If your child is very young, start by making your own flashcards for very simple shapes such as a circle, straight line, zig-zag line, oval, wavy line, etc.
Benefits: This Montessori activity for toddlers helps introduce children to the idea of writing and the alphabet. Plus, as children work with the salt try, they work on fine motor skills. If the tray is large enough, children also do something called “crossing the midline.” This means they reach their right or left hand to the opposite side of the body. It’s important for toddlers to work on this in order to achieve the smooth movements needed for writing, reading, drawing, and more.
4. Washing Windows
Materials: A spray bottle, a rag, dish soap, newspaper
How to Do It: Is anything quite as fun as using a spray bottle for a toddler? Probably not! This is one of the best Montessori activities for toddlers because it is engaging and can often keep your child busy for quite a while.
To set it up, fill a spray bottle with dish soap and water. Then, show your child how to wash your window or glass door using the spray bottle and rag. Dry the windows using newspaper or paper towels.
Benefits: While washing windows, toddlers build hand strength. If your child can’t manage the spray bottle, you can also use a small bucket with a very small amount of water. Plus, your child will build self-confidence. There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to say “I did it!” and “I helped!” to boost your child’s sense of self-worth.
5. Walking on a Line
Materials: Masking tape, a bean bag, a bell, a pitcher of water
How to Do It: Use masking tape to mark a straight line or circle on the floor. You can start with a straight line and then make a circle to make the activity harder if your child enjoys the activity. Then, demonstrate how to hold the bean bag in your open hand while walking foot to heel on the line. Invite your child to try. Make the activity progressively harder. For example, instead of holding the bean bag in your hand, put it on your head. Can you walk the line without the bean bag falling to the floor? Or hold a bell. Can you walk the line without the bell ringing? Do the same with a pitcher of water. Or, make a large circle on the floor instead of a straight line.
Benefits: Walking slowly and carefully requires self-control and great gross motor skills. This Montessori activity for toddlers helps children build their concentration and self-control. Invite your child to repeat the activity whenever they’d like!
Including Montessori Activities for Toddlers in Everyday Life
You can include these Montessori activities for toddlers in your everyday life. Simply store the materials within reach of your toddler, and then invite your child to try them whenever they’d like. Slowly, you can build up the number of activities. Over time, your child will build their skills and achieve more and more independence.
We hope you will enjoy these activities with your child. Which one will you try first?
Are you looking for more Montessori activities to try? Try these outdoor activities for preschoolers.