10 Best Montessori activities for toddlers

Toddlers are a bundle of energy, constantly exploring and keen to engage in various activities. However, navigating the Montessori principles for the youngest age group can be challenging. While classic Montessori materials and the popular trays frequently showcased on social media tend to cater to the 3 to 6 age group, in this blog post, we will explore 10 of the best Montessori activities that are perfect for toddlers. These activities are not only captivating for their senses but also crucial in establishing a base for acquiring fundamental life skills.

1. Puzzles: Refining the 3 Finger Grip

Download our free 3 part cards about Garden birds

Sign up to our newsletter and receive your free printable

Puzzles, particularly those with knobs, are a fantastic way to refine your toddler's three-finger grip, a precursor to writing. These puzzles encourage the use of the same fingers they will later use to hold a pencil, thereby developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in a fun and interactive way. If your child becomes disinterested in these puzzles, introduce some creative extensions. For instance, you can have them match the puzzle pieces to corresponding outlines drawn on paper. Alternatively, wrapping each puzzle piece in foil adds an element of surprise; your child can select a piece, unwrap it, and then find its correct place on the puzzle.

2. Cause and Effect Toys: Understanding Sequences

Toys like the Ball Ramp are excellent for teaching toddlers the concept of cause and effect. As the ball rolls down the ramp, your child begins to understand sequencing and predictability, crucial cognitive skills. The repetitive nature of this activity is not just entertaining but educational, allowing toddlers to explore and learn about the consequences of their actions. Here is one of my favourite ball ramps toys.

3. Hide and Seek Games and Object Permanence Toys

These games are crucial for teaching toddlers about object permanence. Understanding that objects or people still exist even when out of sight is a significant cognitive milestone. Activities like peekaboo or toys that disappear and reappear help reassure your toddler about the constancy of their environment, which can be particularly comforting as they begin to navigate separation anxiety or when they start nursery.

4. Gross Motor Skills: Pull and Push Along Toys

For toddlers who are just starting to walk, pull and push along toys are more than just fun; they are essential for developing gross motor skills. These toys encourage balance, coordination, and spatial awareness, supporting your child's physical development and confidence in their mobility.

5. Pouring Activities: Exploring with Water and More

Toddlers are naturally fascinated by water and pouring activities are a perfect way to harness this interest. Start with simple water transfer activities using two jugs and gradually introduce variations like dry pouring with pasta. These activities enhance precision and hand control, and also lay the groundwork for practical life skills as I’m sure your toddler will love to be able to pour himself a cup of water!

6. Opening and Closing: Exploring Containers

Gather various containers with lids, like gift boxes or jewelry boxes, and let your child explore. Starting with easy flip lids and progressing to more challenging ones like screw-on lids offers a gradient of difficulty that keeps the activity both engaging and educational. This not only refines fine motor skills but also teaches patience and problem-solving.

7. Vocabulary Books: Building Language Skills

Choose topic-specific books, like those about animals or vehicles, and discuss the pictures. Opt for books with photographs or realistic illustrations to enhance the learning experience. This activity enriches vocabulary and aids in the development of early language and literacy skills.

8. Matching Cards and Animals: Enhancing Recognition

Print pictures of familiar animals and let your child match them with corresponding toy figures. This not only reinforces their knowledge of animals but also sharpens their matching and sorting skills, critical for cognitive development. As they progress, transitioning to matching picture cards adds complexity and challenge.

9. Sensory Bottles: A Feast for the Senses

Create sensory bottles using recycled materials and fill them with various items like beads, rice, or pasta. Encourage your child to match bottles based on the sounds they make or the colours they contain. This activity is excellent for sensory exploration and also supports cognitive skills like matching and categorization.

10. Child-Led Walks: Encouraging Exploration

Letting your toddler take the lead on walks might feel a bit unusual at first, especially since we adults usually have a destination in mind. However, embracing this child-led adventure can be incredibly rewarding. While it may require a bit of patience to follow their meandering paths, this simple activity greatly enriches your toddler's physical and mental development. As they explore at their own pace, their steps become more assured and their curiosity about the world deepens. Your role is to ensure safety, gently guiding without steering their journey. This approach not only nurtures their independence and observational skills but also strengthens your bond as you discuss and discover the wonders around you together. It's a precious opportunity to see the world through their eyes, making every walk a unique and educational adventure.

Incorporating these Montessori activities into your toddler's routine will not only keep them engaged but also support their development in fundamental areas. Each activity is designed to nurture curiosity, independence, and learning, making them an excellent choice for parents looking to provide their children with a rich and stimulating early learning environment. Happy learning!

And if you want even more Montessori toddler ideas, check our pack of 50 + Montessori activity cards for toddlers!

About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.