Grab a spoon and go! I love our new game of racing plastic eggs on large kitchen spoons. B yells, “RACE!” And B can’t get enough of transferring marbles with the wooden, toaster tongs. I keep watching him to see why he likes it so much. Maybe it’s the shape and color of the marbles. We have also been working on cracking eggs this week. B LOVED cracking the eggs into a bowl and wanted to practice on all the eggs. I had to explain why we needed to save some – it’s always for Daddy or Papa. He’s okay with saving some for them. Earlier in the week we sifted flour. This activity keeps him busy for a very long time and he becomes completely engrossed (also covered with flour). Also, B enjoys pictures of himself that I post on the refrigerator. He likes to take them down and talk about them (himself). These were the top hits for this week and they were super easy! What are your kids playing with this week?
I learned from our Montessori teacher that up until about 4 or 5 years old, kids are focused more on the process verses the outcome or product of their work/activity. Around the age of 4 or 5, kids switch and become more focused on the finished product. I’m really glad that I learned this because my two-year old toddler’s actions and decisions make more sense. I can tell he isn’t worried about finishing an activity. In fact, I’ll often observe him taking down an activity from off our Montessori-inspired shelf, playing with it for a minute, and then putting it back on the shelf. He’s working on mastering the process of shelf work, the routine of pulling a tray down and putting it back.
Below is a picture of B working on sorting color bears. He never put more than a few bears into the cups. He never put all the bears into all the cups thereby completing the activity. Although he sorted them correctly, he was not worried about completing the activity. He enjoyed taking all the bears out sorting a few and putting all the bears back. Knowing that B is working on the process and isn’t worried about the product is powerful – and cool! Not only am I more patient, but I’m also better at preparing an activity for B’s shelf.
Have you noticed a focus of the process or the product when your children work on a project or activity?
Here is another picture where B is working on an activity. B is starting to work on lacing. I only put out 6 beads. I put out only three pipe cleaners and let him match the colored beads with the pipe cleaners. In this way, he was color sorting, something he already did well, and lacing without knowing it. Soon, I will add lace (string) and more beads. Later, I will make patterns with the beads that he can match.
A few other cute pictures…
Here are some new toddler activities you can do at home. As you can see, we use a Montessori-inspired method of learning by keeping activities and toys on a shelf. I rotate out the activities depending on B’s interest level. B has learned to take activities down and put them back when he’s done. He only takes one activity at a time. We do many of the activities together but B also plays independently. When not playing with these activities he is usually following me around the house helping with the chores, cooking and cleaning (as shown in my last post). At two years old, B can pretty much help with everything. He does laundry, makes snacks and meals, feeds the dogs, cleans up messes, and washes dishes – all with supervision. I hope you find some of these shelf activities interesting. I put much thought into what activities are placed on the shelf. I try to provide a variety of easy and challenging activities and ones that cover math, language, practical life skills (such as transferring), sensorial, art, music and creative play. I would love to hear YOUR ideas as well!
Here is our shelf downstairs in the playroom (right) and upstairs in B’s room.
The first picture below shows is a language activity. I read the word and have B find and place the object next to the word. The second picture is a sorting and counting activity with bears. B loves feeling the bears. He used to throw them but he’s gotten over that now. The third picture is a practical life skill where B transfers the beads into the other bowl. Always go from left to right. The fourth picture shows a sorting activity where B puts all the spoon in one cup and forks in the other. He likes real forks and spoons and it’s a challenge to keep the cup upright. We are also working on the words “spoon”,” fork”, and “cup”. The fifth picture shows some eco-friendly eggs that B can match and put together. It’s too difficult to pull them apart but he can put them together. The sixth and last picture shows a pinching activity with different sized clips. B practices clipping the paper and exercises the finger muscles he will later use for writing. Enjoy!
Here are some toddler activities that we have enjoyed recently! My little guy is 22 months but there is a wide range of ages that would enjoy these activities. What are your favorite toddler activities?
In this activity, B is matching colored chip clips with the same color cups. He can pinch them onto the side of the cup or just place them inside. This pincer exercise is a little easier than regular wooden clothespins and the color are interesting. I found these chip clips in the grocery store and the cups are from Ikea.
Here is another pincer activity with chip clips. If the toddler is just learning this type of work, he or she can pull the clip off and place them in the cup. Ounce they have mastered pulling off the clips, they can work on putting them on the side of the cup or basket.
Here are two color sorting activities. Since B is getting efficient at this activity, I added lids to the work. The orange, yellow and green canister lids that I picked up at Michael’s are challenging but manageable to get off. The second color sorting activity is a little more challenging because the bugs have some different shades and patches of other colors. Also, bugs are just fun!
Here are two practical life skill activities for your toddlers. The first is placing stirring straws in two different shakers. The second is a tea set. B has really enjoyed the tea set recently. He transfers water between the dishes. He spills it all over the place but we clean it up together with a dish towel.
We have recently enjoyed simple memory games. Here I put the red bear under a cup and let B find it among some other cups. B thought this was pretty funny! Silly bear. It’s like advanced side and seek.
Finally, here are some fun pictures from around our work/play room and house. B loves transportation so we count vehicles. He also loves it when I put up new pictures that I have cut out from magazines. He’ll point to pictures and we talk about them. I also bought some sunflowers. Just thought they looked pretty! Come on spring!
Here are some Montessori-inspired toddler activities that we are enjoying this week. The activities including a focus on math, sorting (early math), art mixed with language, music, practical life and more specific language activities. We are working on letter recognition and phonics. And we are working on number recognition 1-5 and the basic concept of numbers. Sometimes B (22 months) will seem to understand numbers and sometimes he won’t. If he isn’t “into it” on any given day, I just move on. B loves transportation and construction vehicles, so I integrated that into our art and language activities.
Here is a snapshot of our playroom and shelf this week. Below are a few of the activities.
Here is a number activity. We enjoy placing the numbers 1-5 on our felt board and in the bathtub with foam numbers. Here I chose to highlight the number “4”. This tray has several different ways of showing the number “4”. B loves the counting lizards from Melissa & Doug.
Here is a basic sorting activity. I am always so pleased with myself when I find a new way to display a sorting activity. I found this little art bucket in Target. It’s light and easy for B to carry. Here he will place the blue popsicle sticks on one side and the yellow sticks on the other. He loves it!
Here is an art activity. I added a small printout of transportation pictures. I actually snagged this from Chik-fil-a! It’s an eye-spy road game that came in his kids’ meal. B enjoyed coloring the pictures as we talked about them and then we put down transportation stickers.
Here is a language activity of sorts. It’s more about vocabulary than learning to read. They are sort of conversation starters and from there we talk about other things relating to the cow and butterfly, like where we saw a cow or butterfly and what they eat and the sounds they make.
This last activity is simply a music basket. I usually have a basket of musical instruments out for B to play with. I rotate the instruments almost every week. I swear I find my husband playing with them more than B, so I guess it’s for the whole family. We go to a toddler music class once a week too, which is fun. B is one of the first toddlers to jump up and put things away. Otherwise, he’s shy and quiet (like mom). The teacher noted the Montessori approach they use to set up and clean up! She noted last week that the class had “normalized” meaning that they had mastered the concept of taking instruments out of the basket and returning them (without a fuss) at the end of a song. Montessori is everywhere!
Here are some toddler activities we have on our Montessori shelf this week! B is 21 months old and is working on numbers, vowels, and the concept of big verse small. He does not seem to yet get the idea of counting but it’s a long-term process. I’ve seen that slow introduction of ideas works well for him. It took several introductions of sorting before he started doing those activities on his own. I use a very gentle, no-pressure approach. (Otherwise, I get frustrated too!)
B loves the organization of a Montessori shelf. He knows to get one thing out at a time. It’s fun to see what activities he picks first when I put out new trays. Here are two activities with numbers. I found wooden pieces at the craft store and wrote numbers on them. He plays with them or we count things (stickers, cars, etc) and put the number next to the items. I also made some number cups. B can sort and count the buttons inside each cup. We do this together and he needs lots of help but it’s VERY fun. He loves the feel and colors of the buttons.
B is learning his vowels. He can make the vowels sounds. He REALLY enjoyed putting the vowel wood chips on the mat.
Next is a practice life activity – folding napkins.
Next is an activity were we sort big and small animals!
And finally here is a video of the shelf work on YouTube!
ENJOY! And please share your favorite activities!
Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful morning opening presents with family. This year was special because it was B’s first Christmas were he actually understood the concept of opening presents.
Christmas Montessori-style in our home means most of the gifts are put away after an initial romp and brought out slowly as part of the regular toy circulation. After opening presents Christmas morning, B became tired and overwhelmed by all the new toys and quickly fell asleep before lunchtime. At just under 2 years old, he is sensitive to order and simplicity. Me too! Everything was cleaned up and put away before he got up from his nap and he didn’t mind one bit. The old(er) activities were just as fun. A few of the new trucks made an appearance later in the day but only one new toy at a time. This helps minimize messes and allows B to clean up his own mess without getting overwhelmed.
On our shelf this week we had a couple of holiday inspired activities. I pulled out some wooden Christmas mice that were fun to line up and organize by size. We talked about the concepts of “large”, “medium”, and “small”. I gave B a box filled with balls and he practiced opening the clasp. B also enjoyed sorting the red and green popsicle sticks that I had stuck in a small stocking. His new toys included a Brio train set, Tinker toys, a wooden truck, two battery-powered trucks, and puzzles. I think that was everything. His stocking had stickers, plastic bugs and lizards (for counting) and a book shaped liked a truck. Christmas afternoon we went to a park to play. By 6pm B was asleep again! He normally goes to bed around 7:30 pm or 8 pm. All the stimulation of Christmas wore him out! Me too!
What are your holiday family traditions? Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Stockings? Have traditions changed as kids got older? Favorite Montessori-inspired ideas for the holidays? I’d love to hear from you! Happy Holidays!!
Here are some other links to Montessori-inspired holiday activities: