Montessori Activities for Toddlers at Home
The same principles and ideas that make the Montessori classroom a fulfilling and calming environment for toddlers can be brought to your home. Though the home and classroom are two different entities, continuing on with the same environment will have remarkable benefits for your child—plus, these Montessori activities for toddlers at home are fun, easy, and effective! After all, all these activities are inspired by the Montessori phrase, “Help me do it by myself.”
Setting Up the Montessori Environment
There are a number of ways you can create the same Montessori classroom feel at home. You will want a number of low shelves to store the activities, and supply those shelves with baskets and trays. Also, you should procure a toddler-sized table and chair set and also real child-sized tools and utensils. Keep in mind that the environment where the activities are taking place should provide the child with opportunities to take care of themselves.
You can set up a room in a number of ways, but most of the time you will see that beds have been lowered onto the floor, clothing is lower in closets for children to dress themselves, and toys are always within reach.
Now that you know the basics of a Montessori environment, let’s look at ways you can turn the space into a stimulating place of learning and discovery.
When you want to help your child differentiate between colors, you can make a simple color sorting activity. You can gather up wooden blocks and paint them the primary colors (yellow, red, and blue) and have your child sort those blocks into boxes or baskets of the same color (either handmade or bought). Once your child gets used to sorting these 3 colors, you can begin to add in complementary and tertiary colors.
Though you can make this a game, you can also think of it as a lesson. Simply begin the lesson by naming the color and placing the block in its appropriate space. Continue until all the blocks or items have been put in the correct box or basket. Once your child has seen how the game works, you can even incorporate more items into the game, such as stuffed animals with bits and pieces featuring the color you are teaching (ex. A bear with a blue bow goes into the blue box).
You can also make color sorting into a scavenger hunt (i.e. “bring me something that is red”).
Similar to the above activity, you omit color and create different shapes instead. Pick two different shapes, such as wooden blocks and spheres or circles. Find boxes or baskets fighting this feature (such as a square-shaped basket next to a circular-shaped one). All shapes should be the same color to eliminate confusion. You can also create a board with the shapes you wish your child to identify. Once they have found the right shape, they will rest it on a cutout or drawn on the section.
Like the above activity, you introduce the game by picking up a square piece and saying, “This is a square.” Do the same for the circular piece. Either place the item on the board or in the right box. Do it a few times then invite your child over.
Soon, you can add more shapes. Once your child has mastered shapes, you can add in multiple colors to sort.
In one of the many baskets that you will have available for your toddler, you can create a sensory game. The “hard and soft basket” is a barrel full of surprises that is simple but enjoyable. Your child’s attention will be brought to a number of objects of varying hardness. To make the hard and soft basket, you gather up safe items from around the house—4 firm, 4 soft. Examples of firm/hard items include bouncy balls, wooden sticks, plastic containers, and action figures. Examples of soft items would be balled up socks, tissue paper, pieces of fabric, and fake flowers.
You mix up these items then introduce the basket to your toddler. You can say things like, “Is the sock soft or hard? Is the ball hard or soft?” It’s a fun scavenger hunt in a controlled setting and helps toddlers understand the difference between hard objects and soft ones.
Another sensory activity that is easy to make and safe for toddlers would be “shaker cylinders.” Children are also intrigued by different sounds, especially when they can’t see what is making the sound. New learners will enjoy the varying sounds of the containers when shaken, while older toddlers can play games like finding which containers hold similar materials.
To make the shaker cylinders, you can take coffee cans, mason jars, or even plastic containers that are either dark colored or not see through. You want to make 3-4 sets of shaker cylinders. For example, you can use sugar, rice, beans, coins, sand, buttons; and you are going to want 2 sets of each if you’re playing the matching game. Once you have gathered your cylinders, you can glue in construction paper if you were unable to find plastic containers that aren’t clear. Fill each container with your chosen materials.
From there, let the child shake the cylinders, ask them what the sound could be, and sort the cylinders from loudest to softest sounds or vice versa.
You can take magazine clippings or original drawings, paste them onto construction paper, and then cut-out different shaped pieces to create paper puzzles. Not only is this a simple activity that allows for some creativity when scrapbooking or drawing, but is also a great way to teach young children how to differentiate between different shapes and sizes. If your child really likes the puzzle you create, you can always cut and laminate the pieces to save them for another playtime.
There are a number of Montessori activities that you can bring home from the classroom to keep your children entertained, engaged and learn at the same time. It is about creating an enviroment that helps the child feel welcome and aids in development. Remember that most activities are simple and can be made from paper and other craft items, meaning that as long as you are willing to get hands-on and creative, you and your child will never be without something to do.