25 Indoor Montessori Activities for Toddlers

25 Montessori Activities  

Bad weather and the cold season can keep us indoors, scrambling for educational activities to keep our toddlers engaged. It is so easy to feel like you are running out of things to do with months of being cooped up.  Montessori activities are an excellent, fun, and educational way to help prepare children for their school years. Simple household tasks can be made into fun, hands-on, developmental lessons that provide opportunities to use fine motor skills and create good habits, as well as great memories.

The first three years of life for a child are very important for neurological development, and Montessori activities assist in exercising sensory acuity during this process.

The Little Organizer: 


Organization activities help children learn to concentrate on a certain skill, while working towards a small goal. It allows them to make connections between objects, build their developing memory, and it also helps a child to look for similariries in the world around them.  Matching gives a child the opportunity to think, reason, and problem solve. 

Sorting: 

  1. Sorting bears: There are so many different types of sorting activities, but “sorting bears” is one of our favorites. Your child can learn their colors while sorting these bright and colorful bears in different ways. These little bears are a cute way to also learn about patterns, colors of the rainbow, and transferring (see below).
  2. Spooning and Transferring:  You can use different tools to pick up, examine, and sort any sort of small object groups.  (For example you can use spoons, tongs, or scissor-like sorting tools to manipulate piles of sorting bears.)
  3. Sorting blocks: Take any of your existing types of play blocks and create new sorting games with them.

Matching: 

  1. Matching pictures in a memory game, like in this game by eeBoo, can build your child’s observation skills.
  2. Matching letters: Whether it is matching two of the same letters–captial and lower case letters–or small words, your toddler can begin to recognize all of the different letters visually. 
  3. Setting the table: Match the outline of plates and utensils on a table or other surface.
  4. Match socks: Ask your child to match socks for you while you are folding laundry. This activity is helpful to both the child and to mom and dad!
  5. Laying out a play mat and rolling it back up: Laying out a square of carpet or a small mat can be designated as their “work area” for various projects (such as one of the sorting actvities above) and it keeps their mess surprisingly contained as well as instilling the idea of a workspace.  This makes clean up after the projects much more simple.

The Little Explorer (Sensory Exploration): 


The aim of sensory exploration is for the child to learn about their environment and then utilize what they learn in an organized manner.  
  1. A sensory tub: Fill a shoebox with different textures and shapes (squishy, soft, rough, smooth or furry…)–the more unique items you find the better.  Use various textures and shapes.  Another fun idea is to add water beads to a plastic tub and then add items into the tub for your toddler to find.
  2. Sandpaper/glitter numbers or letters: Write large upper and lower case letters on cardstock notecards and then go over the letters with glue and sprinkle with sand or glitter. After it dies your child will have 3D letters to trace with their fingers! Help them begin to learn how each letter is formed or how the upper and lower case letters differ. 
  3. Touchy feely bag:  Close eyes and then feel the contents inside the bag.
  4. Color Exploration: Mixing colors with finger paints or brush paints can be such a fun way to learn primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Start with dabs of red, yellow, and blue and then watch your child experiement.  They will learn both visually and with their sense of touch as to how the color spectrum works!
  5. Lacing: try building hand-eye coordination with lacing cards. You can even make your own!
  6. Stringing beads is another fun activity that lets your child get creative with patters, shapes, and colors. All the while building their fine motor skills. 
  7. Zipping, snapping, and buttoning are all very necessary for a child  to learn as they prepare for school and each take a different set of skills. Practice all of these with a skill board.
For a low mess option try Color Wonder fingerpaints!

The Little Kitchen Helper:

  1. Measuring: Measuring ingredients teaches numbers and quantities.
  2. Stirring: Help your child grasp the spoon in a way that will enable them to stir effectively. Teach them to hold the side of the bowl with the other hand.
  3. Roll out dough with a rolling pin. 
  4. Cut cookies/cut dough.
  5. Decorate cookies: For further detail on Montessori learning while baking a recipe and other ideas, check out our post on Holiday Baking: Montessori Style.
  6. Wash dishes while learning the difference between hot, cold, and warm.  Relate the faucet’s operation with the water flow and temperature.  Demonstrate how soap makes things slippery and then clean.
  7. Cutting play food builds coordination and lets them practice cutting, without contacting anything remotely sharp. Play food can be cut over and over and it can be made into a fun imaginative play scenario of “kitchen” or “restaurant.” 

An alternative to real kitchen dough is to use a homemade play dough or natural play dough that can be used over and over.    

Hygiene:


Practicing simple hygiene techniques not only builds good habits for the future, but it also helps a toddler with their fine motor skills.
  1. Combing hair:  Let your child help to comb their hair, or, if you are adventurous, yours! 
  2. Brushing teeth: Because the habit of brushing teeth is so important for our health, it is the perfect time to make brushing teeth multiple times a day into a fun activity. Help them squeeze the proper amount of toothpaste and develop coordination with small brushing movements. 
  3. Washing hands: Another very positive habit to form, make it fun by using a stool, a faucet extender, and a fun soap for them to use.  

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For more information about what teachers want children to know before starting school be sure to check out our post!

Photo Credits: Kirsten; The Art of Making a Baby

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Kirsten

Kirsten is a military wife by day, an artist by night, and an around-the-clock-mommy to her (almost) two year old daughter and a son due in the Fall. She loves to travel and is always dreaming of her next adventure. Her interests include everything from extreme sports like skydiving and rock climbing to languages and studying philosophy. As a Californian now living in South Dakota, there is no taking that golden sunshine out of this California Girl.

Comments (2)

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    ivy

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    Thank you for this article! Just what I was looking for to get my 16 month old started on some Montessori activities. What sets your article apart is that you don’t list complicated instructions that require the mom to sit and do crafts for an hour or two on her own to make this activity happen. I love it that you included some product suggestions. Thank you!

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    Amanda

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    These are great ideas! I would add to #11 to try include familiar objects in the bag that your child can easily name. Demonstrate how you feel the object with your hand in the bag and “guess” what it is before pulling the object out of the bag. Also, a better title for this article would be “Montessori-inspired” activities since only a handful or two of these are technically part of the Montessori curriculum. Let’s not mislead anyone about what the term Montessori means when it comes to Early Childhood Education 😉

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