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If you’re looking for fun, hands-on activities for your 3-year-old, there are plenty of options to choose from! Here are a few ideas:
1. Sensory bins: Fill a plastic bin with items that will engage your child’s senses, such as rice, beans, or sand. Add in small toys or objects for them to explore and manipulate.
2. Playdough: Making and playing with playdough is a classic activity for young children. You can easily make your own playdough at home using flour, salt, and water.
3. Painting: Finger painting or using a brush to create artwork is a great way to let your child express their creativity. You can use washable paints or even make your own using food coloring and water.
4. Nature walks: Take your child on a walk around your neighborhood or a local park and encourage them to observe and collect items from nature, such as leaves, rocks, or flowers.
5. Building with blocks: Blocks are a fantastic toy for developing fine motor skills and spatial awareness. You can use wooden blocks, foam blocks, or even recycled materials like cardboard boxes.
Remember to always supervise your child during these activities and provide age-appropriate materials and tools.
Montessori has the ultimate scientifically-based way to address children’s development. At the young age of three, we often can observe common threads and windows of opportunity that a child’s behavior displays – sensitive periods.
Sensitive periods in Montessori education refer to periods of time when children are particularly receptive to certain types of learning. During these periods, children are naturally drawn to certain activities and materials, and they have a heightened ability to absorb and retain information.
The sensitive periods typically occur during the first six years of life and cover a range of developmental areas, including language, motor skills, and social development. Montessori teachers are trained to recognize and respond to these sensitive periods by providing a prepared environment that offers the appropriate materials and activities to support each child’s individual needs and interests.
By understanding and supporting these sensitive periods, Montessori educators can help children reach their full potential and develop a lifelong love of learning.
It is always wise to refer to those sensitive periods when we plan to organize a learning environment for a 3-year-old child especially if we like to follow the Montessori approach. Before I share with you my suggestions and examples of learning activities for three-year-olds, I would like to revisit those sensitive periods. From the age of 0 to 6 years old, a child’s development can be characterized by the five types of sensitive periods:
fine and gross motor movement
For each individual child the time it takes to fulfill and pass each of those developmental stones varies. Only the child can tell us through many cues and personal tendencies what his or her sensitivity is most prevalent at any point in time. Hence we strive to show respect and follow the child.
Bouncing off that we can see how important it is for us to practice observational skills from the child’s birth and be attentive to what the child’s behavior is telling us. This lays a great foundation for creating an environment and activities that will drive and support the sensitive periods, enable the child to be in harmony with his or her intrinsic stimulus.
Sometimes, adults can get fixated on a particular aspect of development – like learning to read and write or social skills. And if the child does not show much interest in either of them or tends to like his or her own company, we begin to panic and push the child to reach the milestones without providing adequate support and inclining to start attaching labels.
I believe we always have to take the child’s character and individuality into perspective. Our eagerness to “fix” the child should never be imposed or make the child feel inadequate. We should most certainly seek support or reassurance if it’s the case.
In the post, I would like to share some ways I incorporate learning activities with a 3-year-old during our morning learning time. I plan and prepare 3-4 activities for the child 3-4 times a week. I trust you find these helpful and inspiring.
We have limited space with children in different age categories, hence I aim to make the most out of it to allow freedom of choice. Here is an example of a shelf arrangement with a silence game and a sand timer in the basket, cutting strips, counting the quantity and matching to the numbers activity, the knobless cylinders, learning to identify the initial sound “I spy” game, painting, matching cards, and a puzzle type activity.
Practical Life Activities
We use cloth nappies at night until we feel the child was ready to go without them. Hanging and fastening washed nappies with a peg brought a sense of accomplishment, encouraged self-care, and was a great exercise for little fingers.
I like to encourage care of the environment. For example, clearing the table after an art activity is a wonderful way to support a child’s desire for order and boost confidence and independence. It takes a lot of patience to prepare, assist and support the child from the educator’s perspective, however, it is definitely worth it.
Even when we don’t have store-bought flowers, the children often start picking flowers from the loan. I quickly organize a tray and tools to do flower arrangements. This exercise boosts a child’s fine motor skills, and concentration, and fosters a sense of beauty.
Fine motor exercises with lacing cards I find to be effective at capturing a child’s attention for an extended period of time. It is important to offer the child a demonstration first otherwise, they can become frustrated quickly as they run out of string shortly if they don’t practice lacing in the correct order.
Along with helping in the kitchen, children enjoy practical life trays with pouring and transferring activities to perfect those fine motor movements. It also allows the child to indirectly prepare for writing and extend their concentration time when they are allowed to work on it without interruptions.
Children don’t seem to get tired of pouring activities at this age.
It is always a good idea to extend the difficulty of the task and offer more challenging work if you feel the child is ready to move on.
Fine Motor Activities
Without a doubt, the shelf work, Montessori trays, and hands-on learning activities tend to and satisfy sensitive periods. With one activity the child learns the order of the presentation, the order in which all materials are organized on the tray, and the way they should be placed back on the shelf.
They learn language by naming the tools, colors, and objects on the cards. They learn to communicate when they need help with an activity. They learn to differentiate colors, sizes, and textures. Hence I find this time the child spends working on the activities invaluable for their development.
Generally a trip to a discount, thrift, or office supply store is sufficient to gather the necessary tools to prepare and set up learning activities for preschool children.
I love getting creative with manipulatives I can use for transferring, math, or loose part play. Here you can spot everlasting flowers I kept from one of the flower-arranging activities.
Playdough play with loose parts is a regular activity on our shelves for preschool children. We prefer to use natural loose parts we have collected in the woods or purchased from craft shops.
Fine motor work as such is always only done under direct supervision for safety reasons. As a rule, I do not leave it on the shelf for the child to access at any time without an adult being present. At the age of three many children still like to take small objects into their mouths.
Once in a while, the children enjoy sensory play. For example, we mix up cornflour with beetroot juice, some eco-friendly glitter, and a hair conditioner. This fun and engaging activity can get messy but it is very much child-led and can entertain them for a while. I like to use this opportunity to work with the sibling without destruction.
It is safe to say that at this age majority of activities I present to the children require a minimum involvement, presentation time, or guidance from the adult. I simply set up an activity on a tray, if the child takes it to work, I ask if I may have a turn. I demonstrate how to do it once and leave the rest to the child. Most of those activities are open-ended.
Playdough and plasticine are often favored by young children. Activities that require them to pinch, squeeze and mold prepare little fingers and hand muscles for writing and drawing.
Often all three children of different ages engage in an activity they can accomplish at a different level based on their skills.
I aim to always have a high supply of paints because a three-year-old can not have too many opportunities to do a painting. Self-expression is very satisfying. We make sure to place the painting on a wall to admire after it dries.
I encourage the child to do simple crafts to practice cutting and other important skills and often it is done to honor an important occasion or to make a card for someone. Meaningful exercise triggers intrinsic motivation that inspires children to complete them.
For example, here is an activity for making a card with a love heart shape the child punches with a shape puncher.
Children learn about creating patterns and simple designs when they have an opportunity to make papercraft.
In the preschool packs that I prepare, I include cutting and push pinning activities. Children enjoy those as they challenge them and help develop fine motor skills that are essential for their growth.
In my Spring pack, I included matryoshka cards for lacing. However, my daughter was more inclined to me to cut it up and glue the puzzle pieces as she was learning to apply pressure on the glue and put pieces together to complete the picture.
Pre-writing and pre-reading activities
Pre-writing activities for preschool children are an important stepping stone towards mastering cursive handwriting. I use colored sand to prepare a pre-writing tray. I may also have loose parts for the child to arrange first and then make continuous strokes with a paintbrush around those objects on the sand.
“I spy” activity for learning to identify the initial sound is very engaging for children at this age as they are curious to learn new vocabulary.
Here is another example of a shelf arrangement with a dusting activity and mystery bag for feeling and guessing objects to support the child’s sensitive period for touching.
Sometimes the child will initiate activities by watching other children work with materials. They come up with a way to use them that makes sense to them. I generally do not interfere and allow the use of those materials as soon as the child is doing it respectfully.
For example, here the child is organizing math beads by color and length.
This is the age when children start learning discriminating objects – grading and sorting by size. I adapt to our children’s needs and purchase materials I feel will benefit them the most for an extended period of time. The cylinder blocks are a perfect example.
As children encounter shapes and learn many other concepts from interactions in real life, we can start introducing hands-on activities with cards that reinforce that knowledge and draw attention to it like a magnifying class.
I created a series of cards that help children to learn through manipulating picture cards and learning small snippets of information – Nature Curriculum in Cards. I regularly use materials from the bundle with all my children to teach them about the natural world.
My daughter enjoys working with cards. Hence I use this opportunity to offer as many activities as I can to support her interest.
Our children eat their veggies without us nagging and they are not shy when it comes to spices. But that definitely didn’t happen overnight. We talk about food and nutrition all the time and in a fun way. We discuss cuisines and ingredients in our meals, the way food makes us feel, and how it affects our mood. I am very open with them about mistakes I made in the past when it comes to healthy eating habits. We talk about self-control and discuss what it looks like in practice. We are still learning every single day how to nurture our bodies but we try not to make it a chore. Having cards with whole foods available on the shelf to work with helped me with my littlest to normalize eating fresh and unprocessed foods that at times don’t seem to be overly attractive to children.
This is a shape-matching activity with animals that is very beneficial for even younger children. Cards like these indirectly reinforce the idea that we express affection when we feel safe to do so (we are a part of the animal kingdom after all) while learning names of different shapes, animals and applying logical thinking and observational skills.
Tracing worksheets are usually not my first choice when I prepare activities for my preschool children. However, they are like a magnet to them. If given a choice, they work with them practically daily. They serve the purpose of preparing children for handwriting, developing extended concentration skills, and learning pencil grip.
In my tracing no prep books I also include activities on logical thinking. If children are engaged, they can spend a significant amount of time working on an activity that boosts their ability to concentrate for longer.
There is so much to be admired about Montessori materials. They are made mostly out of wood and they are made to last. They are at the very foundation of the Montessori method. In our home, we own a few sets but I also find a way to substitute those materials with something that comes at a lesser cost and can be stored efficiently. Here is an example of our DIY color tablets II. These are easy to make with construction paper or cardboard.
Here is an example of an open-ended type of activity that allows free exploration. It is not material that requires a presentation. If the child asks questions, I am always there to give a short introduction and point to land and water, name continents. But the main purpose behind material as such is to allow the child an opportunity to manipulate its parts, to spark his or her curiosity, and to help gain information through play and observation.
When I think of puzzles for preschool children, I like to choose wooden ones with knobs. Indirectly it allows the child to practice pencil grip. Children can also trace shapes holding them by the knobs and then use the outline to do push pinning, coloring, or cutting.
Pattern work with shapes fits in perfectly with the sensitive period for developing sensory skills and satisfies the curiosity and desire to sort, match and make patterns.
Here is another way I allow to repurpose Montessori metal insets and be used like puzzles. Generally, these are used by older children to practice tracing, coloring, and making continuous strokes. In saying that, at the age of three, my children were ready to use them as intended as well.
Homeschool - Learning Resources and Must-Read Books
Back to School learning resources with hands-on activities gathered in one bundle. This bundle includes materials that help develop skills to support the main areas of a child's development - language, math, geography, fine motor, social-emotional, organizational skills, and sensorial. It fosters creativity and logical thinking and prompts moments of deeper concentration. The materials are suitable for use in a classroom setting at school or childcare and in the homeschool setting. It contains tools to help children transition and settle well into their classroom and support the development of their executive functioning skills. You will find many materials to include in your All About Me unit, editable name tracing printouts, and tools to help you organize your classroom such as a Linear calendar and Mobile calendar to start the day. Editable and Homeschool teacher planners are also included. The bundle contains language resources for learning to identify initial sounds and CVC words, and math hands-on resources for teaching basic mathematical concepts.
Chore Charts for children of different ages Fifty-six visual and thirty-six non-visual chore cards Blank rounds and editable blank chore cards to add your chores to the list Different chore board designs to choose from
Editable and customizable homeschool planner with daily and weekly planner templates for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and lower elementary students based on key areas of Montessori scope and sequence. It can be used by families internationally with the option to choose Jan-Dec or Aug – July academic year.
Seasonal printables were designed specifically for Montessori classrooms with a large variety of activities that cover different learning areas, such as geography, math – one-to-one correspondence, language – identifying the initial sound, reading, sight words recognition, classification, fine motor practice for students aged 3-6.
I Have, Who Has? Math Games help reinforce valuable lessons and math concepts whilst capturing students’ attention, focus and concentration in a fun and engaging way. Students will be learning while having fun and playing math games with their peers in pairs, in small and large groups. Once students are familiar with the subjects, these cards can be also used as an individual activity to review important math concepts.
Early Learning Bundle with 40 printable sets that contain 3-Part Cards for an object-to-picture matching activity. Sets are designed to match the classroom favorites – Safari TOOB figures. Use in any language. All sets include an editable PowerPoint file. Types labels in your own language and print.
When I first learned about Montessori, we had just welcomed our second son and I was in the midst of trying to figure out where my then 3-year-old son was going to go to preschool. He had been attending a 3-day-a-week autism therapy school for early intervention and was about to complete his time there since he had reached all of his targeted goals.
Homeschooling isn’t a new concept, but it sure has gained momentum over the last few years. But, is it effective? What does the research say?
You might be surprised to learn that while only 7% of American students were homeschooled in 2021 (an increase from 4%), over three quarters (78%!) of these students perform better than their traditionally schooled peers.
Should your family homeschool or should you send your child to a school? This question has crossed the minds of many parents in the past few years. So I am here to share with you my thoughts on whether it’s best to home educate or to send the child to school.
A homeschool space setup is an integral part of home education. How do we create a space for learning that is inviting, clutter-free, practical, budget-friendly, and efficient? Before we set up a learning environment we need to ask ourselves, what goals are we looking to achieve.
I often get asked where to purchase Montessori materials, what I consider Montessori essentials, what handmade items are best for those who prefer handcrafted materials, etc. Below you will find a list of materials, resources, and toys I sincerely recommend. Everything on this list is of high quality and value. I’ve gathered resources and products that I personally purchased, had in my Montessori classroom, reviewed, and would genuinely recommend.
Having a plan at hand, especially during uncertain times, can only benefit busy and overwhelmed parents. Sometimes parents can be going through a period of transitioning when they work on establishing new homeschooling routine.
Do you wonder sometimes what a day in the life of another homeschooling family may look like? Unless you are a part of a dynamic and large homeschooling community, you may not have time or energy to connect with others on a regular basis to discuss your routines and timetable.
When a family decides to take a route less traveled to homeschool their children the number of questions and choices you have to make is staggering and overwhelming. The list is never-ending – from what approach to take to how to manage household and expenses on one income, and of course, there is socialization.
Don’t fall for gorgeous looks! Beauty is within. The modern world portrays Montessori as a fancy method of education for privileged children. In its essence, the Montessori method is not about the status or gorgeous classroom interiorioir. It is about meaningful connection, respect and authenticity.
Are you new to Montessori?! Do you feel sometimes overwhelmed with the amount of new information you need to process? Would you like to hear advice from Montessori parents, bloggers, and teachers on common mistakes Montessori newbies make and how to avoid them!?
Our homeschooling journey is something that consumes my heart and mind these days. I guess because it is unknown territory that we are walking into. So far it has brought great fruit and I feel that our everyday life is bursting with colors like never before. My daughter’s “whys” have got a completely new dimension, and I love, love, love how excited she got from receiving a magnifying glass by mail the other day. I would like to share what happened when we emerged into our Montessori work 3 – hour session. You can read about our Homeschooling routine in this post. I hand-picked a list of Montessori materials for our classroom. Aside from this list we also use some natural toys and materials that carry educational purpose.
It is not a secret that the child needs stability in life in order to feel secure. Order in life creates inner order and peace, something that lays the foundation for successful learning, smooth transitions, and a happy kid. One of the first tasks for homeschoolers is to establish their own rhythm, and set up a daily schedule that is the backbone of the whole process.
Montessori is a truly unique method. One of the main characteristics of this philosophy is that it requires parents and teachers to acquire a particular list of habits, behavior, and attitude towards children, learning, environment, and a certain mindset.
by Jacy Ruwe (Author), Elin Johnson (Illustrator)
It’s a question that nearly every homeschooled child asks at some point. With its delightful, hand-painted illustrations and rhythmic structure, this charming book shows readers how they can learn scholastic skills through everyday life.
by Susan Stephenson (Author) Format: Kindle Edition
A fifteen-year experience of day-by-day, year-by-year, learning how to create an authentic Montessori education at home through elementary, middle, and high school. The main guide or teacher during these years had taken AMI teacher training courses for 0-3, 3-6, and 6-12 and had taught for many years.
by Christopher Lloyd (Author), Andy Forshaw (Illustrator)
Discover how history, nature, and science connect in this fast-paced, entertaining, and incredibly informative history of the world, from the beginning of time to the present day. How was our universe made from a tiny speck of energy? Where did the first trees, plants, animals, and humans come from? What happened to the dinosaurs? What was so miserable about medieval times? How were railroads and electricity invented? What are the perils of global warming?
A hands-on open-and-go Montessori math curriculum. Use as a supplement to traditional, physical Montessori math materials OR as a stand-alone math curriculum. Montessori math sets a firm foundation in concrete principles before slowly progressing into abstraction.
This is a learn to read book for kids 3-5 and5-7. Each age group will use the book in a slightly different way. The first group will be able to work with the help of an adult, while the older group can start the Montessori reading series mostly on their own, as they will be able to cut, paste and color most of the reading activities by themselves.
Number Concepts - number rods, cards and counters and one to one association Golden Beads - introduction and arithmetics with golden beads Linear Counting - bead bars, teens, tens, skip counting, hundred board Arithmetics - addition, multiplication, subtraction and division
by Frank Egholm (Author), Anna Cardwell (Translator)
Looking for an outdoor hobby to engage your children and encourage them to be crafty and creative? Wood carving is not only easy to learn and fun to do, but almost everything you need to get started can be found for free -- right outside your door!
by Vicki Cobb (Author), Tad Carpenter (Illustrator)
Kids take the reins in the kitchen with this hands-on book of edible science experiments! With revised and updated material, a brand-new look, and hours of innovative, educational experiments, this science classic by award-winning author Vicki Cobb will be devoured by a whole new generation of readers.
This beautiful art encyclopedia charts the evolution of the greatest cultural achievements in painting, sculpture, and photography. The greatest art exhibition at your fingertips! Packed with fascinating facts, clear explanations, and stunning photography, this awe-inspiring art encyclopedia for kids aged 9-12 years takes you on a magical tour through time exploring every artistic style and movement in stunning detail. From Leonardo da Vinci's iconic Mona Lisa to Vincent van Gogh's spectacular The Starry Night, this art history book celebrates the lives of groundbreaking artists and their most famous art masterpieces.
by Julie Bogart (Author), Susan Wise Bauer (Foreword)
Parents who are deeply invested in their children's education can be hard on themselves and their kids. When exhausted parents are living the day-to-day grind, it can seem impossible to muster enough energy to make learning fun or interesting. How do parents nurture a love of learning amid childhood chaos, parental self-doubt, the flu, and state academic standards?
MULTI AWARDS WINNING FUN LEARNING TOY - Family Choice, Mom's Choice Gold Metal & Tillywig Brain Child Award Winner 2018, and Creative Child Kids Product of the Year Winner 2019! The most popular interactive smart educational talking world map poster.
Continent Race Geography Game for kids was created by 6 year old Byron duringpassion for geography with a desire to help boys and girls like him learn and have fun during their hospital stay - and beyond! For 2+ players
The ShillerLearning Math Kit I - everything you need in a single box! No lesson preparation required by parents! Your package contains over a dozen different manipulatives based on Dr. Maria Montessori's method developed over a hundred years ago. Includes a balance, number cards, number tiles, operator set, foam ball, wood dominoes, a US/metric ruler, wooden shapes, dice, measuring cups, and probability bag.
Magnetic Fuel Tank Monitor Card. Magnets on the game board to hold Fuel Stations in place. 2 levels of game play. This game will arrive in new condition. Please note that each Mission to Mars Edition game was opened in the U.S. for the sole purpose of adhering the magnets to the game board, thus saving customers the task. The game will arrive taped closed with clear tape on all 4 edges of the color box.
It’s time to say NO to trying to fit square-peg kids into rounds holes, and YES to raising them from a place of acceptance and joy. Today millions of kids are stuck in a world that doesn’t embrace who they really are. They are the one in five “differently wired” children with ADHD, dyslexia, giftedness, autism, anxiety, or other neurodifferences, and their challenges are many.
Teaching children how to manage their intense emotions is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting or educating gifted children. Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings provides a much-needed resource for parents and educators for understanding of why gifted children are so extreme in their behavior and how to manage the highs and lows that accompany emotional intensity.
by Susan Stiffelman (Author), Eckhart Tolle (Foreword)
Our children can be our greatest teachers. Parenting expert Susan Stiffelman writes that the very behaviors that push our buttons — refusing to cooperate or ignoring our requests — can help us build awareness and shed old patterns, allowing us to raise our children with greater ease and enjoyment.