Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Montessori for 15 to 16 Month Olds

The past couple of months, I have been gradually introducing Ryan to some Montessori-inspired activities.  He really seems to enjoy focusing on each task and is self-motivated to learn the new skills.

Lately, whenever Ryan sees mommy or daddy doing something around the house, he wants to try it too.  The other day, I was cleaning up a spill on the floor.  Without even being asked, Ryan got his own rag, imitated my movement, and actually helped.  I was so proud of him for feeling self-confident and independent enough to want to do that on his own!

Most of the activities that we have tried so far are very basic and serve the purpose of developing fine motor movements, which is a precursor to writing.  The activities are always child-led:  Ryan decides when he starts and when he stops.  In our experience, most of the materials keep Ryan busy for a relatively long chunk of time.  He enjoys doing them over and over again, figuring out everything at his own pace.  Ryan eventually lets me know when he is finished, and then I model how to put the materials away.  (I think that it will be a while before he can do this part on his own, but we are continuing to work on it).

The greatest thing is that these materials can probably be found laying around the house, so you can give these opportunities to your children without spending a penny (and even if you do need to purchase a few of the supplies, they are inexpensive).

Colander and Pipe Cleaners
Exploring how the pipe cleaners can be put in and out of the holes, twisted, and tangled up.

Wipes Container and Pom Poms
Making a game out of this by stuffing the pom poms through the hole as fast as he can.

Cheese Shaker and Lollipop Sticks 
(or you can use toothpicks)
This is challenging, but definitely Ryan's favorite activity this month.  He chooses to do this one often.

Spools of Thread and Chopsticks
This is the first in a series of activities.  The next will be threading the spools onto a pipe cleaner, and then finally threading the spools onto a shoelace.

Ryan is so proud of all his hard work, and now he's ready for story-time with mommy
Ryan loves to pick out which stories we read each day.  He LOVES his books.

While I agree with most aspects of the Montessori philosophy, I also believe that children need time to use their imaginations and creativity through free play with their toys and the natural environment. After doing our Montessori work for the day, Ryan and I usually spend our afternoons at playgroups, library events, kid gyms, etc.  These are enjoyable social outlets for both of us, and also provide Ryan with plenty of time for free play.  I absolutely love spending time with this little guy, and I feel like this age is extremely fun!


  1. @Pamela- I know! Where did my baby go?!

  2. I don't know about other Montessori schools, but my school was very much about balancing classroom learning with learning in your natural environment and having free play. Every day we had an hour recess (in addition to 30 mins for lunch), plus regular outdoor gym sessions, a ropes course on the facility, trampoline sessions, art sessions, we took nature courses, hiking courses, orienteering courses, took care of chickens, etc, hehe:) Man...I miss being able to go out at recess for an hour and run around the woods! Can I go back to school?;)

  3. @Erin- Wow! That sounds like so much fun! I love the idea of having all of those hands-on experiences with nature! It seems so much better than being indoors all day and only using the playground for 25 minutes (as long as its not raining or damp) like it is at many elementary schools.

  4. Thank you so much for your posts! My husband and I were praying just this morning that we would be able to help our 16 month old develop more (it's obvious that he has more intelligence and ambition than we know what to do with and my mom, a psychologist, is afraid we are wasting his potential) and I have loved the Montessori system but it's way over my head! You have been God's tool in answering our prayers!

  5. @Anonymous- I'm glad that you have found some of the Montessori activities useful. I am certainly not an expert in the Montessori method, by any means, but I enjoy learning just a little bit at a time and then applying it at home. I hope that your son enjoys the activities... 16 months is a great age to start!

  6. I just came across your blog today, and I am excited to start more structured play with my son, who is now 20 months old. His nap has recently changed and he is definitely at a social stage where he wants to interact with me all the time. We often have planned play dates or library story times in the mornings, but afternoons are becoming too filled with TV, so I'm going to try some of these activities with my son in the afternoons. Since he's new to these types of activities, do you think it would be wise to start back at the 15/16 month activities and move on up in age once he has mastered them? I'm assuming he will pick them up quickly and eventually "catch up" to his biological age. I am considering homeschooling in the future and Montessori is definitely one of the methods I'll be looking at closely!

  7. Hi Dana! I just came across your blog today and I am excited to try these Montessori activities with my 20-month-old son. He's at a much more social age and wants to play with me all the time, but I often find myself at a loss for things to do! We usually have busy mornings with play dates and library story times, etc. but these types of activities would be great for the afternoons, which unfortunately are becoming increasingly filled up with TV at our house.

    Since I've never tried this type of play with my son before, would you recommend starting back at the 15/16 month activities and working our way up from there so he starts to understand the Montessori system and the types of things expected? I would assume that he'd eventually "catch up" to his biological age. What do you recommend?

  8. @Julie- Hi! I would definitely recommend starting with the activities that I listed under the 15/16 month category. I matched the activities with ages based on what my son did, but of course, every child is different. Montessori really focuses on the individual child's interests/abilities, in order to guide what materials and activities to set out. Some children will express a strong interest in one particular area, but not other areas. We should keep that in mind while preparing the activities. Best of luck and I hope that your son finds something that he enjoys! =)

  9. Montessori philosophy at home is about following your child not about having a set of activities to follow so you're right to go to playgroup, outside and do whatever needs to be done as a family or in your house! Lovely blog...

  10. What size of spools did you use?

  11. @Ashley- Oh they were just a collection of all different sizes, whatever I had on hand.

  12. @Carine Robin- Yes, it is 100% about following your child. The ages in these posts are simply when my son was ready for these particular activities. Parents should only introduce these activities when their individual child is ready and interested. :-)


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