By Sandra Delaney
Between the ages of one and three years old, children have absorbent minds that learn by experiencing the world. These Montessori-inspired activities for ages one to three years old will give your child the opportunity to explore their environment at their own pace.
Here are practical Montessori-inspired activities that you can do with your little ones to encourage their development through their natural curiosity.
Talking to babies is one of the healthiest things you can do for their brains. Storytime can be an enjoyable experience for both the child and the adult. Allow the child to pick a book or books for you to read together. Read slowly and clearly.
Let the child turn the pages if they have the motor skills to do so. That way they can set the pace. Don’t force the child to take a linear approach to the story. Reread the same page several times if that’s what the child wants, or end a book early if they lose interest. Use rhymes, sing songs, and use a rich vocabulary!
“With Montessori, the child is the one in charge of his learning, so he will explore at his own pace and I just improvise and follow along,” says Boston Nanny Aysha Del Valle. “I allow my little one to take the lead in reading by having him hold the book and flip the pages. Sometimes he looks at pictures in the book and I explain to him what those things are and then ask him to point them out.”
Children only receive these language benefits from direct human interaction. No screens, no audiobooks, no podcasts; just you, your little one and your mouths. When they see the words coming from your mouth, that’s when they are learning!
“Reading out loud helps your child enhance their language skills and cognitive skills,” says Aysha. “By reading out loud to your child, you’re activating their listening skills, their sight skills and their sense of touch. Listening because they are hearing finding out new words. Sight because they are now connecting words with pictures as you point at things that the book is talking about and showing them what it looks like. Sense of touch because eventually they will be pointing at things, and some books have different textures and are more interactive for the child.”
Treasure baskets can be an excellent source of learning and entertainment. And the good news is you probably already have everything you need to make them.
Fill a few small baskets with objects for the child to play with. Include an assortment of objects with different textures. Natural materials are the best to use. You can also use objects from around your home. For example, a spoon, an unused sponge and a whisk from the kitchen—you can even fill a basket with fruits and vegetables! Make sure nothing in the basket presents a choking hazard.
After you’ve prepared the basket, put it on a low shelf within your child’s reach. Allow the child to explore the basket in any way they would like. Your child might touch, push, bang, or drop the objects. They might even try to eat them!
Treasure baskets can come in all shapes and sizes! I love categorizing them: round objects, things that are red, etc. Keep your child engaged and introduce them to everyday items you want them to be curious about. Hint: every kitchen utensil is a child’s favorite play toy.
E’s Treasure Basket (Photo from Chasing Cheerios)
Let the child play as long as they want. Encourage the child to help you collect the objects and put them back in the basket when they’re done.
About Sandra Delaney
Sandra has over 15 years of experience in the childcare industry previously working as the center director of multiple KinderCare locations in the Greater Boston area, and as a private nanny. She received a bachelor’s degree from Salem State University in elementary education and teaching. Sandra is passionate about children and families, and ensuring their success! In her spare time, you can find Sandra bowling or feeding her Harry Potter obsession.