The 12 Best Montessori Activities for 1 Year Olds

Toddlers as young as 1 year old can participate in Montessori activities. These activities should be free play with little guidance. Adults can offer and initiate natural curiosity in children by letting them pick and choose as they play.

Simplicity is one of the most characteristic features of a Montessori toy especially for toddlers. These toys won't require batteries or make annoying sounds.

Basically, Montessori toys are supposed to be simple, aesthetically pleasing and made from natural materials. 

Purpose

A Montessori toy should have a clear purpose and be aimed at the development of a particular skill or focused on a single concept.

Theses types of toys should focus on:
  • Sensory skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Language development
  • Gross motor skills
  • Math skills
  • Arts and crafts
  • Scientific exploration

1. Loading & Unload Clothes 

Unload Clothes

Get a little help on laundry day by including your 1 year old. Put the dirty clothes hamper by the washing machine, and show your toddler how to put the clothes inside. Most little ones get a kick out of it while you get some help. 

2. Looking for Toys Inside Boxes

Looking for Toys Inside Boxes

For this one, look for boxes around your house that have different closing mechanisms, and put a toy in each one. Encourage your toddler to look for a toy, you can shake the box or open it to show what’s inside to get the child interested. 

You can try using a plastic container, jewelry boxes, or even a regular gift box. This activity is great for motor skills development and for teaching object permanence.

3. Banana Peeling

This tasty activity is easy for parents to prepare and is a start in practical life skills. It doubles as a snacking opportunity too. Cut an unpeeled banana into thick slices, resembling thick disks.

Carefully slice along one side of each to make a “starting place” for your little one to grab onto. Next show your child how to lift and pull the peel off of the banana slice. Most one-year-olds are able to handle this well, and they love being able to eat the end result.

4. Water Play

Water play is super fun for little ones and developmentally beneficial. Simply fill a low water table, clear storage bin, or bowl with water. Then, add a few tools, like measuring cups, sponges, or whisks, for your child to explore. Toys and other household objects can be a fun addition to water play. Its great for washing a baby doll, scooping ping pong balls, or rinsing real fruits and veggies. 

5. Finger Painting

This classic Montessori activity engages your one year old's senses and can help you start introducing art activities at home. You can invest in some non-toxic finger paints for your little one, or try experimenting with a few different DIY edible finger paint recipes at home.

6. Hand Washing

Teach your one year old how to use the sink, soap and faucet. Show them how to wet their hands but not waste too much water when lathering. Make sure the handles are easy to turn for a small child. Be sure they understand how to rinse soap off and dry their hands when done washing.

7. Matching Lids to Containers

This is simple activity that is easy to set up using items around the house. All you need is a couple of empty plastic bottles or containers and lids. It’s tough for little hands to put a lid on so practice makes perfect. This activity can be done with a variation of lids of different sizes when they get a bit older. This activity is great for the development of fine motor skills, grasping and shape and size recognition.

8. Montessori Shelf & Materials 

A Montessori shelf is basically a simple, low shelf that’s easy for your toddler to access. A limited number of interesting, age-appropriate materials are stored and organized on the shelf so that children can easily see and use their toys and activities without having to dig through an overflowing toybox.

9. Scooping

Scooping is another simple fine motor activity with much room for variety. Scooping rice or pasta, ping pong balls or other age appropriate items from a bowl of water will keep your one year old busy. They can even just scoop and pour plain old water. In addition to building hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, scooping activities also helps toddlers develop focus and concentration. 

10. Cause and Effect

Find an area of water, like a stream or lake or even a puddle. Show your child what happens when you drop sticks into it. It can be fun to watch what items sink or float.

11. Hammer Toys

Montessori toys are developed with a single concept in mind like hammering a ball through a hole. This can also help your little one build fine motor skills as well as teach them about cause and effect. We also love the simple, classic design and the natural wood materials.

12. Sensory Toys

Most one year old's love exploring their senses, and sensory play is encouraged within the Montessori method of learning. Usually these toys have a nubby surface that your toddler will love to touch, taste and explore. These kinds of toys are also great for developing motor skills. Your child can bounce, roll and toss them around safely without worrying about getting hurt.

Final Thoughts

There are many simple Montessori activities to start working with your one-year-old with every day household items. Introducing these activities one by one is a great way to slowly work with a young toddler and have much success.

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