Montessori Toys & Activities By Age

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On a regular basis I am asked ‘what can I do with my X month old child?’ so I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post about activities and toy ideas by age group.

Each age bracket starts with activity ideas you can do around the home with a few toy ideas underneath. In brackets, you will see a link to purchase items for both the UK and the USA. I am working on building up a database for other countries, too.

There is so much variation between children that it is difficult to narrow down exactly what would be suitable for a ‘X month old’ child, so please take each category with a pinch of salt and feel free to look both before and after your child’s current age, too. Do not worry at all if your child appears to be unable to do something or did it months before – every child is different! Arlo is 2 now and he still loves his stacking rings. He plays with them regularly and has done since he was able to sit up. There is no age limit on anything, really, as long as it is safe.

It is also important to remember that the key is following the child! If they have shown an interest in balancing or stacking then go for that. If they are climbing over everything, maybe go for a pikler or pile of sofa cushions. It is entirely individual to your child, but hopefully you will find some ideas or toys you haven’t seen before!

If you have had success with anything that isn’t on the list, let me know in the comments box below and I will be sure to add it on!

0-3 Months

Activity ideas

  • Nursery Rhymes – sing songs and nursery rhymes. Your baby will find your voice very soothing.
  • Story time – Read, read, read! It’s never too early to start!
  • Take a tour – walk around the house or garden and talk about everything you can see along the way!
  • Tummy Time – great for strengthening muscles! Use a play mat, tummy time pillow o

r rolled up blanket.

  • Free Time – don’t feel as if you need to constantly entertain your new born. Give them some time to absorb the world around them without the distraction of toys.
  • Outdoor explore – if the weather is appropriate, allow your baby to lie on a play mat outside to see what passes by.
  • Mirror Play – lay a mirror down on the floor next to your baby so that as they play on the floor, they can see their own reflection.
  • Baby Massage – check out a YouTube video or join a massage group if you aren’t sure.

3-6 Months

  • Outdoors – Get outside and explore the outdoors. All those sights and sounds will be fascinating to your baby.
  • Contrast Cards – lay some contrasting cards out around your baby as they are engaged with tummy time or look at them together while having a cuddle. If you don’t have any, just draw some shapes on white paper with a black marker such as zig zags, circles, faces.
  • Photograph time – share photographs of familiar faces with your little on. Begin to develop language by discussing who they are and features such as nose, glasses, brown hair etc.
  • Give them a rattle to shake and watch their surprise as it makes a sound.
  • Allow them to explore different textures by giving them things to touch and explore.
  • Show them lights. Cover them, move them and explore the different sensory experiences.

6-9 Months

  • Muffin Tray & Balls – present child with various balls and a muffin tray. Can they put the balls into and out of the tray?
  • Saucepan band – present a saucepan upside down and a wooden spoon. Let them bash away and create some interesting sounds! Experiment with other equipment such as a whisk or a plastic bowl.
  • Stacking rings – Can they begin to grasp and position stacking rings? You could use bangles on a peg.
  • Treasure basket – put a few select items into a basket and present it to your baby. You could give related items for example a blue ball, blue cloth, blue flower etc. or completely unrelated items. Anything could be suitable as long as it is safe to go in the mouth.
  • Sensory bottles – fill a bottle with interesting things such as water and glitter, beads in water or washing up (dish soap) liquid and give it to your baby to examine the contents. Make sure the cap is secure!
  • Sensory bottles – fill a bottle with interesting things such as water and glitter, beads in water or washing up (dish soap) liquid and give it to your baby to examine the contents. Make sure the cap is secure!
  • Shaker – you can buy these or you can make your own by filling objects with lentils or rice and sealing closed. You could use small bottles, hollow egg shapes or whatever you can get your hands on!
  • Play the drums! If you don’t have any, make your own!
  • Messy Play –You could begin to introduce simple messy play here as long as your baby can sit up unaided. Always begin with taste safe play. For example, strip your baby down to their vest or nappy and put them onto a sheet or tuff tray with mash potato, beans, custard… anything your baby would like to squish and experience!

Toy ideas

9-12 Months

  • Hot or Cold! Fill one bowl with warm water and another with cold water. Put some toys in each one and let your child experience the difference between the two. This one was one of Arlo’s favourites!
  • Wooden blocks stack – stack a few blocks and let them knock it over. Stack a few and let them place one on top. Stack a block on something else like the back of a toy animal. The possibilities with blocks are endless!
  • Toy rescue! Tape toys down inside a box and allow your child to ‘free’ them by pulling at the tape. Or you can weave string back and forth through the holes in a washing basket so your child has to reach through the gaps to rescue their toys.
  • Ball scoop – put a ball in a bowl of water and allow your child to try and catch it with a slotted spoon.
  • Jelly play – lay a few toys into a small dish and cover with jelly. Put in the fridge to set and let your child get messy trying to get the toys out of the jelly!
  • Messy Play – If you haven’t already, definitely introduce some messy play! You could use shredded paper, ice, homemade play dough (taste safe – there is a recipe on the website), tapioca beads, dyed pasta or rice.
  • Head outside and explore. What can you find?

12-18 Months

  • Help with the cleaning. Can they use a dustpan and brush to clean the floor? A wet cloth to clean their toys? You could even smear something like Nutella or jam onto toys and give them a bath to make them clean!
  • Card Match – Match physical objects to cards. Can they match the toy cow to the cow picture?
  • Mark Making – Give your child a square of paper and one or two different coloured crayons to mark make.
  • Painting – Use homemade, taste safe paint to make pictures. You could use corn flour/corn starch & water or yogurt and food colouring.
  • Flower arranging – present a vase and some flowers. Allow your child to arrange the flowers however they’d like and display at child height.
  • Dyed rice play – using fine motor skills to scoop up the rice and fill containers or create pictures by moving the rice into different shapes.
  • Lid match – present several different containers such as jam jars. Can they find the correct lid that matches each container?
  • Fill a box – present a variety of small boxes, such as match stick boxes or cereal boxes. Each box should have a different item inside. Allow your child to open each one and explore the contents!
  • Water Painting – Use a wet paint brush on large sheets of coloured paper to ‘paint’ a picture.
  • Kitchen helper – using a kitchen helper to help with everyday tasks such as washing up, preparing vegetables, baking bread.

Toy ideas

18-24 Months

  • Nature hunt – explore things in your natural environment
  • Collect different coloured leaves, collect pine cones and conkers. Look for minibeasts
  • Threading beads – thread beads onto a string.
  • Matching socks – Can they put together pairs of socks?
  • Every day helper – poor their own water, clean an apple, peeling an egg, wash the car. Can they help with everyday tasks in their own age appropriate way?
  • Draw and paint on an easel. Copy pictures. Decorate pictures by sticking leaves or tissue paper.
  • Doll play – can they use self-care techniques such as washing babies face and hair?
  • Bowling skittles – stand a few bottles up and provide a ball to knock them over.
  • Ride on toys – balance on a balance bike or make use of your local play area for swings and rocking toys.
  • Chalk – draw on the pavement with chalk.
  • Planting seeds – head into the garden and plant some seeds or flowers.
  • Sand & Water play – make sand castles in a sand pit, practice pouring water.
  • Sensory activities – Oobleck play, dyed rice or pasta play, chia seed slime.
  • Reading links – Read a story and find related objects. Such as, can we find an animal figure that was in our book? Can we find something the same colour as the characters t-shirt?

2 Year Olds (24-36 Months)

Remember that this is actually a huge age range. What a child can do at 2 is very different to what they can do at 3. So consider each option and decide which ones are right for your little one right now and which ones to reserve for a few months down the line.

  • Pour dry ingredients from a jug into a bowl and back again.
  • Practice setting the table.
  • Pour water from one jug to another
  • Squeeze orange juice
  • Cut fruit with a safety kids knife
  • Peel a banana and cut it up
  • Separate ingredients. For example, mix chick peas and rice together and pick out the chick peas either by hand or with tweezers
  • Butter a piece of bread
  • Make marks with pens and crayons
  • Use their finger to write in paint or sand
  • Thread a string through blocks
  • Use a dressing frame
  • Cut things into halves and quarters
  • Glue small pieces of paper onto a larger piece of paper
  • Mystery bags – put random items inside a bag and allow your child to touch and feel them. Can they guess what they are? What do they feel like?
  • Transfer small objects such as pom poms into a bowl using tweezers
  • Match pictures to their real counterparts such as an oak leaf to an oak tree, a picture of a pig to a toy pig etc.
  • Open and close buckles
  • Help with washing and drying at the sink
  • Bake bread or cakes using a kitchen helper
  • Arrange real or felt flowers into a beautiful arrangement
  • Paint a picture with paint pens or real paint
  • Use a weighing scale to weigh two items. Which one was heavier? Which one was lighter?
  • Create patterns and sequences with loose parts
  • Give them a squirt bottle and a cloth to clean the windows or shower
  • Compare how the same amount of liquid looks in different containers
  • Play a memory card using pictures to make pairs.
  • Throw a bean bag and collect it by hopping or jumping
  • Give them a few different padlocks and keys. Can they sort out which key goes to which padlock?
  • Ask your child to fill the washing machine or hand you clothes as you peg them on the line
  • · Mash potatoes with a fork
  • · Wipe the table after their meal
  • · Use a magnetic fishing rod to find magnetic items around the house
  • · Use a peeler to peel vegetables
  • · Plant seeds in the garden and then harvest them!

Toy ideas

Activities for children aged 3

  • Use a screwdriver to tighten and loosen screws.

  • Have a go at some Yoga!
  • Practice tracing numbers in sand
  • Gather items to reflect that number (e.g. can you find 2 marbles)
  • Explore places around the world by introducing interesting items and photographs
  • Look at a globe and identify different places
  • Order the planets
  • Play a music instrument like bells or a triangle
  • Group objects by the first sound (Here is a cat. Are there any other words that start with a C?)
  • Opening and closing latches, locks and dials
  • Arrange items by size, weight or other components such as herbivore/carnivore
  • Gather a set of items such as pom poms, shells, coins etc. Practice grouping them together in a beginning form of addition. For example get two add 1 more!
  • Help your child to organise their own space including toys and clothes.
  • Sort buttons by size, number of holes and texture
  • Cut and peel carrots
  • Make their own snack by mixing things like raisins, sultanas and other dried fruit. You could link this to counting e.g. mix 6 raisins and 5 sultanas.
  • Wash, dry and dress a doll.
  • Give them a plant to care for remembering to check it and water it each day.
  • Blow bubbles
  • Sweep or mop.
  • Let them smell or taste different ingredients and spices
  • Place pieces of paper on the floor to act as stepping stones. Can they jump from each one? Can they count their numbers as they go?
  • Skipping with a skipping rope.
  • Balance on a balancing board (such as the Wobbel board)
  • A great Montessori strategy is to ask them to complete a puzzle having hidden pieces of the puzzle around the house. They need to actively search for each piece in order to complete the puzzle.
  • Help to match socks and put them away
  • Grind egg shells down and use as fertiliser to help plants grow!
  • Throw socks into a basket
  • Build a model from air dry clay
  • Paint the end of two lollipop sticks the same colour. Repeat for multiple colours. Can they match the colours together?
  • Junk modelling (using things like empty cereal boxes or toilet rolls to create models of cars, rockets, castles… anything!)
  • Thread beads onto a piece of spaghetti without breaking it. You can stand the spaghetti up using a bit of plasticine or blue tack on a table.
  • Give them a collection of items. Can they identify which story the objects represent?
  • Continue a pattern by using stickers. E.g. red dot, blue triangle, purple square…
  • Will this sink or float?
  • Is this living or not living?
  • Cut pictures from a magazine. Does the item belong in the house or out of the house? In the air, land or sea? Is it from the past or the present? Etc.
  • Hide quietly and count the number of birds you see.

So, there you have it – a huge selection of activity ideas and inspiration for your child depending on their age. If you use any of then, don’t forget to tag us over on Instagram!

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