DIY Montessori Inspired Activities for Toddlers

“… the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature.  This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do what he likes.  But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient to one of her laws, the law which decrees that development comes from environmental experience.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 89)

What does a prepared environment look like at home? It is the environment where a child can operate and accomplish everyday tasks without, or with minimum help from adults. The environment that offers age-appropriate challenges, and helps a child feel in control. In our home I try to do the best I can to support my toddler to achieve her independence: a bin to leave in her dirty clothes, a bed from which she can easily get in and out, a table and chair with which she can use without help. She knows where to find a towel to wipe her hands and face after a meal, reach for her bottle, find her shoes and her clothes. We have a set of simple rules, like “eating and drinking only at the table”, “water play is an outside activity”, etc. When introducing rules I say: “At home, we play with water only in the backyard”.

By nature child’s brain development is connected to the work of their hands, that’s why fine motor activities stimulate brain development so well. That is where activities like these come to place. I would love to share with you DIY Montessori-inspired activities for toddlers that designed to engage those little hands, stimulate five senses, develop concentration, teach basic concepts of math and language.
CAUTION: these activities contain small parts and glass and should be demonstrated under the adult’s supervision.
Memory game:  I place a set of different boxes – with small objects inside on a mat, open them and take the objects out, then show her that next, we put objects back exactly where we found them. I quietly present every step very slowly and carefully. She loves it! The first time she did it on her own – she mixed the items all up, however, she managed to put them back exactly where she found them. 

“Soft and loud” game: one egg shaker is significantly louder than the other. I demonstrate the difference by shaking them one at a time.

Sorting activity with nuts. What I like about this activity is that it offers a contrast of texture. Brazil nuts are rough and macadamia nuts are smooth. The first time I presented it to her she loved it so much, she worked with me for quite a long time, then carried it with her from room to room. It is something that a child does when she gets a new toy. Melted my heart.
Activity with Christmas tree balls. I used these because they fit perfectly into the egg carton. It allows her to grab the top using a pencil grip.

I made this jello with some fruit and let her eat it using her hand.
Sensory activity with ice cubes and manipulatives. After having a play with it she decided to sort objects out. 

After I saw how much she enjoyed working with the wooden pyramid, I offered to put hair ties instead of rings on the pyramid stand.
These are our favorite books at the moment.“Crocodile” by S Parish , “Leaf” by B.McClish and “Amazing Animals” series. I usually read my toddler books using Montessori three-period lesson. For example, I say: “This is a drum”. Then I ask her to point to it: “Show me the drum”. And then I ask her to name it: “What is this?”
Fine motor activity with mirror, rock salt, and brush.
Fine motor activity with ribbons. First, I tied them to the ball and it turned into a fun toy, then I put ribbons inside the ball for her to pull them out one by one. 
  About Anastasia. Anastasia is the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 19 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Learn more here. 

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