Before we show you these 30 activities, we must emphasize that one of the important rules of Maria Montessori is that you should not help your child unless he asks you to! That way, it won’t matter whether what he’s doing won’t be perfect from the first attempt. The moments when he actually manages to do something on his own are way more precious. Of course, it’s vital that you build a safe environment around your child, where he feels comfortable to perform any activity, and to be by his side, because, especially when they’re young, kids can swallow small objects or stick them up their noses or in their ears.
With no further ado, here are the 30 Montessori activities that will help you keep both a toddler and on older child busy.
1. Take a few jars and small bottles of different sizes, take their lids out, shuffle them and ask you child to find the right lid for every jar and put it on.
2. You need a sponge, dish detergent and dishes. When you’re together with your child in the kitchen and he wants to do the dishes, show him how to wash a pot, then let him wash a plate, a mug or something else.
3. Any type of grain can be allowed to spill on the floor and can be later swept.
4. Offer your child the chance to pour water in a tray and to get it out using a sponge.
5. Button and unbutton, cap and uncap (a mommy who’s passionate about sowing can even make a bunny and a carrot out of felt, that can be joined together by a button or a cap), tie and untie shoelaces etc.
6. Kids like to feel textures, so offer them pieces of fabric with different textures: silk, cotton, wool, and while he’s exploring them, describe them to him as soft, slippery or rough. Or you can shuffle pairs of different pieces and ask your child to put them back in pairs.
7. Throw – either yourself or the child – small things (buttons, marble balls, pebbles, beads) in a jar filled with water and ask your child to pick them up with a spoon.
8. Put 10 familiar objects to the child (a ribbon, a pencil, a tooth comb, a chestnut, a pebble, a toy etc.) in a small bag. Your child must pick each object and name it, with his eyes closed. This activity can be more complex for an older child: you can ask him to find all the objects that start with a “p” or a “c” etc. This way, your child develops touch, learns the letters of the alphabet and develops the ability to distinguish between the sounds that make up words.
9. You need two plates, a sponge and a funnel. Pour water in one of the plates and, using the sponge, move the water to the other plate.
10. If you have a few beads and boxes, you can mix different colored and different sized beads and ask the child to separate them in two boxes, according to their colors or sizes. An older child can put the beads in more than one box, depending on their sizes and color.
11. A small hose split in two on its length can become a “slide” for beads. The child drops a bead and watches how quickly it reaches a bowl. Let him observe the movement of the beads depending on the angle of the slide and on the weight of the bead.
12. Working with paper, origami, develops fine motor skills. Origami also stimulates imagination and encourages creativity.
13. Work with 1, 2 or 3 kg bags – depending on the child’s age and weight – tied together with a rope. By lifting them and moving them around, the child develops strength in his arms, as well as gross motor skills.
14. Any type of beads or figurines, small toys with a hole in them, can be strung on a wire.
15. You can hammer small wooden nails, using a small hammer, in play dough or clay.
16. You can drop corks, beads, small balls, buttons, and coins in a jar with a small hole in the lead.
17. You need bags of beans or grains. You then ask the child to move them from one bowl to the other or sort them. Or you can hide small toys in them that the child must discover.
18. Older children can take part in activities using colored pins that they stick in Styrofoam.
19. Drop beads or small fruit (cherries, sour cherries, raspberry, blackberries etc.) in an ice shape, and ask the child to pick them up using tweezers. Kids younger than one can pick them up with their fingers.
20. When the child sits in his table chair, pour flower on it, so that he can draw shapes with his fingers, a stick or a brush.
21. Pour semolina in a tray and mix beans in it. Offer your child a sieve that he can use to separate the beans and put them in a jar.
22. The child must place pegs on the side of a box without a lid. Younger kids won’t be able to place them on their own, but they can remove pegs already placed by an adult.
23. Offer your child a larger magnet and different metallic and non-metallic objects. Offer him the pleasure of seeing which of the objects are attracted by the magnet and which are not.
24. Pour water in a plastic mug and some dishwasher liquid soap and offer your child a whisk to make foam with.
25. Pick three pots of different sizes. Take out their lids and let your child pick the right lid for each of them. You can also ask him to place the smaller pots in the larger ones.
26. Ask the child for help when you take out the dishes from the dishwasher. He could, perhaps, take out the forks and spoons. Be careful with sharp objects!
27. Take a tall glass or a vase and fill it with water and small objects: acorns, chestnuts, nuts, plastic toys, corks, beads, balls etc. Your child must throw the objects in the water and notice which ones sink and which ones float. This activity will help him learn the concepts of light vs. heavy.
28. Your child can tear an old newspaper or magazine into little pieces, developing fine motor skills for his hands. When he’d done, he can help you clean up.
29. Activities for play dough. First, your child could mold it with his hands, strengthening his muscles. Then, he can pierce it with his hands, each piece at a time or all at once. Then, let him stick small objects to a larger piece of dough.
30. Kids like to zip and unzip zippers, to play with Velcro etc. Even if you don’t have toys that he can use for these activities, let him practice on other objects: clothes, purses, caps etc.
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