I’m a huge advocate of Montessori, in particular in the early learning phases of a child’s life. They say people come into your life for a reason and my friend Mandy did just that. A trained Montessori teacher, Mandy opened up my eyes to learning and development in children. We used to have the most fantastic mum and toddler classes all in a Montessori environment and my little one thrived.
I’ve put together my top Practical/ Life Skill Montessori activities. These are specifically tailored for toddlers aged about 15 months to about 3 years old I would say and have literally saved me on so many occasions, when I just need 10 minutes. My boys really focus and get involved in the tasks. Most of these materials you would already have either in your Kitchen or Bathroom and cleaning up is a breeze (in fact the kids should do the cleaning up through play).
Montessori activities are life-based. They help children build skills for everyday life, building upon the necessary foundations needed in academia. Most of Montessori activities are done on a tray. The purpose of having a tray is to concentrate the child’s attention on one activity, to isolate distractions and in a typical Montessori school a child will select their own tray from the shelf, and put it back again after.
Here are 5 quick and easy Montessori activities to keep a toddlers learning mind busy.
Basics you’ll need are:
A large tray/ sensory bin
Two similar sized bowls
An empty bottle
These should be a staple in any toddler household. The trigger action is great for development and coordination and the wiping motion helps them cross the midline. Get your toddler to spray a large window or mirror and wipe it up after. Crossing the body’s mid-line is an important developmental skill needed for many everyday tasks such as writing, hitting a ball with both hands etc.
Shaving Cream Fun
Want to keep a toddler busy for at least 20 minutes? Give them some shaving cream ! The possibilities are endless and as your kids get older it really aids in writing skills as well. I digress, if you have a big window or mirror spray a little cream onto the surface. Taking a plastic fork, or their finger, let your toddler draw designs through the cream. Afterward get them to wipe the surface down with the cloth.
Sponging and transferring water
Sponging is one of the first basic lessons a child learns in an Early Childhood Montessori classroom. It works on fine motor development, focus and concentration. They also indirectly learn about absorption. Take two bowls and place a little water into one. Your toddler must place the sponge in the bowl with water and transfer and squeeze the water out into the other bowl until the activity is finished. Then complete moving the other way.
The Spooning Exercise (Transferring)
This activity saves me on a weekly basis. Cooking in the kitchen and have a toddler in your hair? Stick two bowls in front of them and let them work. It develops control and movements in your toddler, learning independence and concentration. ALL toddlers LOVE sorting and I vary this activity with different ingredients. Flour is a favourite but we also use lentils, dry beans and popcorn seeds. In one bowl pour in your ingredient of choice and give your toddler an appropriately sized spoon. My boys are so careful to try and ensure each and every lentil falls into the bowl and they dont stop this activity until each piece has been transferred.
Placing Straws Into A Bottle
This activity is actually perfect from as young as 12 or 14 months old. As your toddler gets older you can also add in a degree of complication by adding in varying factors. For example: Adding in pipe cleaners and sticks to the tray, your toddler must sort them out and ONLY add the straws to the bottle, or get them to list the colour of each straw the place in the bottle. As with each of these activities you’ll have to show your toddler what to do first and then let them take over.
Toddlers from about 14 months onward are probably at my favourite age for learning. Everything is fascinating and exciting. These activities are great for calming kids and encourage independent learning. I’ve got a whole lot more to share but I hope these simple activities will inspire you to get your child involved in daily activities around the home. What are your favourite activities?