For the very short period of time that we had only one toddler in our house, we had a toddler-friendly Montessori-inspired work shelf. It was Montessori-inspired in that:
- Most of the activities could be completed independently.
- The activities were displayed in a neat and pleasing manner.
- Our 2 year old was encouraged to do one activity at a time, and put it back when she was done.
- She was free to do her “work” whenever she wanted.
I casually changed out activities every week to 10 days for several months.
Full Disclosure: The ideas in this post work! They were super fun and easy to put together at the time! This child loves reading and ended up learning to read at the age of 4. BUT… we also ended up having 4 kids in 5 years, and alas, the shelf with tiny baby accessible pieces had to go once we had a baby crawling or walking. Which was basically always. If you have a separate space for these types of activities, or only one 2-3 year old in your house, and you want to make a Montessori-inspired learning shelf for your kiddo, go for it! But I never figured out how to make this work with babies around 🙂
Dots/ Stones/ Stickers/ Playdough
Mancala stones on the letter of the week. She likes to get the stones right on the dots, so she was getting frustrated with the mancala stones because they move so easily. I ended up putting them away and we did dot stickers instead.
Pom Pom Drop!
Fine Motor Skills
A lot of montessori-inspired activities at this age have to do with developing the fine motor skills required for holding a pen or pencil. Well, that’s what I’ve been reading anyway… I’m not trained in Montessori, but I’ve been Googling… so I’m basically an expert. 😉
But, it’s been interesting to see her get that! Sometimes she likes to do fast coloring and wants to hold it in a fist-type grasp. More often than not now though, she holds it like this.
Here are some other fine-motor favorites we’ve had on the shelf:
- Lacing cards or beads
- Putting things through small holes (i.e. pipe cleaners in colanders, toothpicks in parmesan cheese shaker)
- Putting beads on a plastic needle or shoelace
The plastic needle came in a two pack for $1.50 from Hobby Lobby, near the needle point stuff. The wooden beads were also there – near the kids crafts. A bag with about 50 wooden beads was $2. Or if you prefer not to leave your couch, you can order it all from Amazon. 🙂 Wooden beads | needles
I also picked up a tiny hoop for 60 cents at Hobby Lobby and put some of that mesh stuff that goes in your kitchen drawers in it. They also sell plastic meant for kids “needlepoint” for these hoops if you don’t have extra drawer non-slip mesh laying around, or if you want a fancy shape.
She doesn’t totally get this yet. Addie likes to put it through the front and then have me put it back through again. But the 4 year old sibling of a piano student I have LOVES this. She comes and plays with it every week during her brother’s lesson, so I keep it out for her.
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