We wish to provide the best possible environment for raising our children and we hope that the Montessori Method will help with this goal. But if you’re wondering whether it’ll be heavy on the pocket, I assure you it won’t! Today, I have got some fun, easy and budget-friendly Montessori activities that you can do in the comfort of your own home. These activity ideas have been designed for the 1-4 age group, but you can always tweak these according to your child’s age.
40 Fun, Easy and Budget-friendly Montessori Activities for Kids
Before planning any activity of your child, it’s important to consider the following points:
- Interest of the child – What is the child currently interested in? This can be discovered by the parent / caregiver by closely following the child’s cues.
- His understanding level – You do not want to overwhelm the child with something that is beyond his current level of understanding – always customize the activities based on your child’s needs.
Now, let’s get into our activities! A note of caution: please make sure that every activity is carried out under adult supervision.
Simple Motor Skills
Your best bet would be to raid your home to put together some really free, innovative and engaging activities for your child, that’ll work better than an expensive electrical toy any day! These activities fulfill the child’s natural desire to perform an active role in their environment. You can start off with simple preliminary exercises like:
- Carrying a child-sized chair or table
- Carrying trays / baskets / boxes from shelf or toy rack
- Emptying a toy / clothes basket (and filling it back again!)
- Carrying cutlery and crockery (plates, jug, cups, spoons) to the table
Once your child is into the groove of these basic tasks, you can start off with more challenging activities.
1. Sensory baskets using safe kitchen tools – let your child explore and play with rolling pins, and kitchen cutlery under your supervision.
2. Let them stack cups (plastic or steel ones), or build a tower out of it.
3. Let the feel the texture of kitchen sponges. You can even give them some water and let them try squeezing out the sponges!
4. Opening and closing different containers (matching and fitting the lids to their respective / correct containers)
5. Transferring dry contents from one container into another, such as pompoms / rice / marbles / cereals etc.
If the child is still putting things into her mouth, make sure you avoid anything that can be a choking hazard. Your best bet would be to give a child something safe and edible like puffed rice , cereals, raisins etc.
The child might make a mess and throw the item all over the floor. And that’s completely okay (and normal). Do a quick demonstration of how to transfer, and then let the child follow. If he makes a mess, show him how to pick the item and put it back in the container, one by one. Again, a great fine motor activity by itself!
6. After the child has mastered dry transferring, you can introduce wet pouring, where you can ask your child to transfer water from one container to the other. At this point, you can show a child how to pour water for himself from a jug (and drink it in a glass).
Activities using Kitchen Tools
Let them try their hand at using simple kitchen tools like whisks, mortar and pestle, and other implements. There are so many options here that the list is endless. Set up a tray in a safe area of the kitchen and watch him get to work!
7. Use a rolling pin to flatten dough and then use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes.
8. Use a mortar and pestle to crush and grind food ingredients.
9. Older kids can try grating cheese using a small grater, but be very careful that they don’t cut their fingers.
10. When you’re baking cookies, let the kids have a go at whisking, stirring and mixing – let them taste a little too!
11. Kneading dough is something most kids enjoy and is a great exercise for their developing muscles.
Practical Life Skills
Let your kids play with real world objects to help them practice some real life skills that’ll make it easier for them when they enter the big world outside! Let them play with a big-sized lock and a key, a nut and a bolt. Let them explore and figure out how they work on their own. Again, make sure that none of these are choking hazards for your child. Adult supervision is a must for all the activities.
12. Create a little exploratory box with a theme, like this sand and sea shells box and offer a real magnifying glass to look at the objects closely.
13. Let them help with folding wash cloths, napkins, socks. Start off with smaller and easy to fold items. Another great practical life work is rolling and unrolling their working mat.
14. Water always works as a magic for any child and water play is such an important part of growing up! Make use of this interest to get them to help you in washing (and scrubbing) utensils, tables, windows. As always, be prepared to accept their help. E.g. create a cleaning caddy for them with a wash cloth, a sponge and water sprayer and let them get to work!
15. Let the kids clean their own belongings, like their treasured shell collection or action figures. It gives them a sense of ownership and is also a valuable lesson on taking care of your things.
16. Arranging flowers is a beautiful, nature-inspired work and simple enough for a child. Let her pour some water in the vase. Then she can cut the leaves and stems and put the flowers inside.
17. Cutting activities are great for older children to develop their fine motor skills. Give them a pair of safety scissors and let them create a special card, or just have fun cutting strips of a newspaper!
18. Involve your child in dressing himself up! Let him have a go at zipping up his jacket or buttoning and unbuttoning his shirt. Let him try and wear his shoes on his own. You might have to slow down and be very patient in order to give the child his space and time to master his skill.
19. Gardening is a very valuable skill to impart to the younger generation and kids are usually glad to help in all aspects – planting seeds, watering flowers and taking care of the plants!
Now let’s move onto some activities that you can create at home (DIY) or can make by buying some of the supplies from shops / online store. I will talk in details about shopping resources in my next article, so for now let’s talk about some easy activities that you can start at home in order to help the child develop, use and explore their senses.
20. Those chunky wooden puzzles or knob puzzles are perfect for beginners. These are great to develop a good pincer grasp. For starters, don’t stress too much on placing the piece in the right location. Let the child learn and self correct.
21. Building blocks are a classic tool for open ended play and have infinite possibilities when it comes to developing imagination and creativity in children.
22. The squishy texture of clay makes it excellent for sensory play and helps to strengthen finger muscles as well. Since it can be moulded into any shape, kids can spend hours bringing their creativity to life.
Besides making shapes out of clay, you can enhance it’s play potential by adding other elements like pipe cleaners, cookie cutters, and assorted embellishments.
23. Engage kids in pretend play – it’s a wonderful learning experience for them and loads of fun for us to watch!
Children LOVE pretend play; it helps them don a different hat and be whatever they want to be – a doctor, a shop keeper, a vet, a mechanic, a teacher, chef – anything! Pretend play is also a wonderful way for a child to learn how to play in a team. It teaches turn-taking, about money and about the value of working in a group.
24. While it’s important to set up these activities at home, don’t forget that playing outdoors is just as important!
Let your child go outdoors every single day – alone or with friends. Let her crawl, walk, skip, jog, hop and run.
Let your child explore the little nuances of nature – the shiny leaves, the brittle grass, the bright flowers and the dried up sticks. Let them soak up the silence and learn to appreciate beauty of the nature.
Fine Motor Skill Activities
Children love small, precise movements. You can provide some fun and easy opportunities at home for your child, which are challenging enough to keep them engaged and provide good exercise for their muscles as well. Most of the practical life activities are great for building fine motor skills.
25. Give them a bunch of popsicle sticks and a money box with a narrow slit. Let them try to get all the sticks into the box using only the slit.
26. Similar to the above, you can make small holes in the lid of a container and give the child pom poms to stuff through the holes. To make it more challenging, ask him to pick up the pom pom with a pair of tweezers.
27. Make your own stacking toy by using baby bangles as rings. Make it more challenging by asking them to toss the rings from a distance.
28. Get kids to drop in coins into a money box, but a t a slight height to help them perfect their aim.
29. A colander is a great tool for practicing fine motor skills! Give kids pipe cleaners to bend and twist into the colander’s holes.
Language and Math Activities
Language is such an important human expression! Children are naturally inclined to learn newer words at a young age, so make use of this! For young children, math skills will be based on basic skills like sorting, matching and learning about colors and shapes.
30. Start by engaging in fun, meaningful conversations with babies even when they can’t speak. Get a good collection of books and start reading aloud from birth. While the baby will first be drawn to his mother’s voice, toddlers will be able to identify words.
31. Use vocabulary cards or pre-reading cards to expose the child to new words, like the names of animals etc. These are also a great way to let your child know about things that we normally do not see in an everyday life set up, like picture cards or books about sea animals or planets! Complement these cards with miniatures or figurines in order to give a more hands-on experience to the child.
32. Sorting is a very important skill as far as a child is concerned. This is a precursor to math and counting. Before you introduce the concept of numbers to your child, let them understand that every object is an “identity” by itself. Let them learn that the same object can be in different sizes.
33. Once the child is familiar with understanding large and small, you can progress to serialization, where he can order objects from smallest to largest or vice versa. You can do this with specific puzzles or by using his regular toys like cars or teddy bears.
34. Depending upon child’s interest, you can start talking about colours and shapes. Start by giving him real life examples rather than showing him flash cards. Or you could try wooden shapes, buttons or pattern blocks to explore.
35. Instead of making them learn rote counting, teach them numbers through everyday life examples. You could ask “Can you give me 3 spoons from that jar?” or “Let’s beat 2 eggs to make an omelette”.
36. Next you can teach the concept of counting using a hands-on method, by using different manipulatives, like sea shells have been used in the image above .
Art, Craft & Music
“Every child is an artist.” – said the great Picasso, and rightfully so! A child loves to create art in his own style so let them! As for crafts, at this age I wouldn’t recommend any strictly structured craft work. If the child is interested, you can provide supplies and let him use his imagination.
37. Hand your child paints and then let him do what he likes. Let him colour outside the lines. Let them colour the sun in pink, and leaves in blue! Let them doodle, scribble, paste, glue and create their own artworks. You can create homemade paints for babies and younger toddlers.
38. Painting doesn’t’ have to be restricted to paper, make it more interesting and fun by giving your child 3D surfaces to paint, like styrofoam balls. To take it a step further, skip the smooth balls, and try natural objects which have uneven surfaces, like sea shells.
39. You can create a basket with different musical instruments and let the child explore them. Bear with the noise, as to your child, it’s melody! You can sing and expose the child to different songs and genres that are soothing to their ears. Along with music, engage the child in some fun free style dancing. Shake a leg with them and have loads of fun while getting them to move their bodies!
And now to the most important activity of all:
40. Do nothing! Sound like the easiest, but this is actually the hardest part! A parent needn’t keep a child engaged all the time. Not only is it physically impossible, this actually does more harm than good. Take a break from all the activities – you need it for your sanity and your kids need it for their creativity.
It is perfectly okay to let the child be bored for a while. Let them find their own way out of the boredom. Being on their own will motivate them to invent and create something to keep themselves occupied.
Have a plan for a week, and provide your child with only a set number of toys for the week. The rest of the time, they can be left to their own devices, and you don’t have to feel guilty if they whine about it! Boredom sparks creativity in kids and is a natural part of childhood.
I will sign off my sharing some of my video links that you might find helpful:
Here is a video in which I have shared some super easy, free, non-toy activity ideas for younger toddlers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8U2iSlWAmA
I also have an awesome free activity planner printable with 350+ easy activity suggestions! Details here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JrIyyrSm44
I also have age and category wise YouTube Playlist that you can check based on your child’s age or interest: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XieDd_m9XpJBMlTWTbFKA/playlists
I upload a new video every week talking about new activity shelf/tray ideas and Montessori nuggets. So feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay posted.
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how simple and inexpensive activities can help a child to play, learn and explore at home! Do write to me if you have any more queries in mind. I would love to answer them!
Amruta Ram has pursued her post-graduation in Marketing & Cosmetology.She used to be a professor at a reputed college in Mumbai, before going on to head PR and Marketing for an International cosmetic brand. After the birth of her child, she extensively studied the concept of early learning, gentle parenting and Montessori.
She left her high-profile corporate job to pursue her passion for Early Learning. She is the first Indian mom to start a YouTube channel on Early Learning and Montessori! She loves to document her Montessori – inspired journey on her channel and has helped 1000’s of moms to enjoy this journey at their homes.
You can check her YouTube channel here: YouTube channel
She also blogs at www.mummadiaries.com where she offers Free Printables for toddlers and preschoolers.
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