1. Flowers sensory play.
Who would think that just giving a bunch of flowers to a toddler, would keep them busy for over half an hour? Scarlett was really excited, as you would expect from a girl 🙂 She took them all apart, shook them, took petals off some of them. It’s a great sensory activity that trains motor skills and develops general awareness of the world.
2. Spices sensory tray.
This activity is also a hit for us. I assembled a tray of spices for Scarlett to explore. I tried to use spices that don’t have sharp flavors (like peppers), since we opened and smelled and touched some of them. Most of all she enjoyed shaking them, she checked the sounds that different bottles make. She also took her time playing with cinnamon sticks. This activity develops senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, helps them understand rhythm and it’s a great sensory awareness training.
3. Monochrome color tray.
Sensory trays or bins are great ways for a toddler to interact with objects and learn about them. They can be categorized by color, shape, texture, purpose, theme. In order to get your toddler familiarized with colors, Maria Montessori recommends to start introducing primary colors first: yellow, red and blue, then add secondary colors: green, purple and orange. Look for any objects in your house of the same color that could be interesting to your toddler but safe to play. It’s best to collect objects of different texture and size. Some ideas are: ribbons, kitchen items, duplo blocks, books, construction paper, thread rolls, toys, balls, large straws, plastic cups. Benefits: development of the concept of color, sensory, discovery and motor skills.
4. Fridge time
Since we are practicing Montessori home, we allow our child to explore our home naturally. She seems to be most fascinated by the fridge. We put glass bottles and jars up on higher shelves where she can’t reach them, and let her discover the rest. You would be surprised how many objects your child would be interested in. Scarlett especially liked throwing potatoes on the floor and rolling limes around the house. This activity is great to feed your child’s quest for discovery.
5. Musical tray.
It’s recommended to develop your child’s musical skills as early as possible. Offer to your child any musical instruments that you have. We used egg shakers, a harmonica, ringbell, a whistle, a tambourine, two spoons and a recorder. If you don’t have any, empty bottles filled with stuff that can rattle would work great. It’s easy to make drums out of a pot and 2 spoons. It’s also recommended to let your child listen to different types of music. Create playlists of different genres: jazz, flamenco, classic, polka and see which style your child prefers.
6. Nesting objects activity
The best toy for this activity is a set of nesting dolls, but you can also use different size boxes and hide one inside the other. A set of nesting cups or a set of measuring cups also works well. Our toddler really enjoys assembling and disassembling them. It’s a great activity for learning the concept of big and small, learning to open boxes or nesting dolls, and for trying to fit things inside other things. Our toddler plays a lot with nesting dolls by shaking them, taking them apart, trying to assemble them, carrying them around the house, and pointing to their eyes, mouth and nose. Nesting dolls are highly recommended for this age and even though kids at this age mostly can’t assemble the toy, they can get a basic understanding of concepts, and it’s just a great wooden toy to have around.
7. Looking for toys inside boxes.
Scarlett loves to discover things so here is another discovery game. For this one, look for boxes around your house that have different closing mechanisms, and put a toy in each one. Encourage your baby to look for a toy, you can shake the box or open it to show what’s inside to get the child interested. We used a plastic container, 2 different jewelry boxes, and a regular gift box. This activity is great for motor skills development and for teaching object permanence.
8. Fruit sensory play
The set up is easy, just cut some apples and oranges and add water! Scarlett was trying to catch apples from the water and was putting them on a plate. I also gave her a cup from a play set, and she started to drink water from the bowl! It’s a great activity for teaching kids how to drink themselves, great sensory activity and it’s just healthy.
9. Sensory rice play
There are many ways to play with colored rice. At 14 months Scarlett’s favorites are: hiding small toys in rice, walking on rice, transferring rice to small containers, making rice rain, and pouring rice through a funnel. There are more ideas at 12 colored rice play ideas.
10. Matching lids to bottles
This is an easy to set up activity that your toddler would probably like. All you need is a couple of empty plastic bottles and lids. It’s tough for little hands to put a lid on a bottle, they might need a lot of practice. When they get a bit older, this activity can be done with a variation when there are lids of different sizes and they need to pick the right one.
Benefits: development of fine motor skills, grasping and shape and size recognition.
Most of Montessori activities are done on a tray. The purpose of having a tray is to concentrate the child’s attention on one activity, to isolate distractions and to have order in the play environment. Also, aesthetics is important in Montessori education, Maria Montessori paid special attention to wooden materials.
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