Bringing Montessori into your home or classroom doesn't have to break the bank. There are simple and inexpensive ways to put together and to present Montessori Infant & Toddler Activities. Here are a few ideas for one-year-olds and two-year-olds!
Montessori Toddler Activities
Sensory bottles are wonderful material for toddlers and infants. Plus the use of sensory bottles begins to ingrain important lessons of mindfulness that will help with anxiety later in life. Babies' are mesmerized by discovery bottles. These bottles ignite the senses Isolating a quality is a great way to approach bottles whether with sight (e.g) color, sound (loud versus quiet), texture (soft versus hard), and even smell.
Hole in a Box or Can
Recycle a box or can, cut a hole in it, and experiment with different items like Pom Poms, coins, beads, beans, or pasta.
Sand & Water Play Toddler Activity
Go to the beach, go find a sandbox at a park. Let your child get his fingers, hands, and feet dirty. Give the opportunity to explore with tools for scooping, sifting, and pouring. Water play can be as simple as taking a bath. I sometimes lay out a towel or shower curtain with a medium sized container of water for my infant.
My one year old can't get enough of these textured balls. Great for sensory exploration, playing, and early science concepts.
There are a number of hammering or pounding materials available for infants and toddlers. My sons like this hammering toy. Pounding works those hand-eye coordination skills. My son also enjoys “making music” with the pounding sounds.
Finger Painting Toddler Activity
There are plenty of safe finger paints to buy off the shelf but also try mud and these amazing homemade fingerprinting recipes from Tinkerlab. Learn Play Imagine has a great round-up of all sorts of painting fun for infants and toddlers.
Real Life Tools for Toddlers
Yes, you read correctly. Young children can explore with real tools. Obviously, don't hand a child a chainsaw but the basics are a good start. Make sure you introduce and demonstrate how to use the tool (whether he takes your lead or not!) in a safe environment where the child isn't going to break anything or injure anyone. Montessori Services offers a Tool Set for Young Kids. The whole set is not infant and toddler appropriate but a few items, like the small hammer and the stubby screwdriver, are perfect for that stage. You could also go to your local hardware store and purchase large nuts and bolts (to avoid choking hazards and help those little hands develop) to screw on and off.
Montessori Music Basket
This one is so much fun! Our basket is filled with a mix of “toy” instruments (like Melissa & Doug's Band in a Box, which we love!) and real instruments I found at a local thrift store. Score! Add a few fun books and you're good to go!
Climbing & Balancing
Find a safe space to let your child climb up and climb down. You don't need to hover and you don't need to totally hands-off if that makes sense. Just give the child an opportunity to practice those big gross motor skills. Examples include an open gym session at a local community center, climbing pillows, climbing stairs, and mini scooters (my one-year-old likes to sit or kneel on a scooter and push himself around the yard).
Tearing Paper Activity
Sounds odd, I know, but this activity is beneficial and worthwhile for a wide age range. The sound of the paper tearing and the fine motor work makes this simple activity perfect for kids and caretakers. Offer different types of paper to explore sound, textures, and the use of different muscle groups depending on how difficult tearing the paper may be for the child.
Pulling Scarves from a Box
Scarves offer a variety of learning for kids with color, texture, coordination, and fine motor. Stuff an old tissue box with scarves and your child will adore you!
Pulling Laces or Ribbons through a Hole
Anchor the ribbon or lace with knots at each end so that the child can pull from one end and then pull from the other end. Super simple and inexpensive!