Friday, April 6, 2012

Montessori for 17 to 18 Month Olds

At this age, toddlers are working on figuring out how to communicate their wants and needs.  Real words and simple sentences are now mixed in with their babble.  These little guys are curious about everything!  Our role, as parents and teachers, is to thoughtfully prepare their environment and to encourage them to be as independent as possible.

Ryan has taken more of an active role this month when it comes to initiating his Montessori activities, picking them up, and choosing a what he wants to do next.  He is very deliberate about his choices. He understands that he must put one activity back into its proper place before getting out a new one. (This is a big change from what he was able to do two months ago.)  He knows that his Montessori work is different from his "free play", and is therefore much more serious and focused during these hours of day.

Fine Motor Development- Drawing and Scribbling

The Buddha Board is absolutely Ryan's #1 favorite thing to do this month.  In this picture, he told me that he was drawing "tees" (trees).  This activity helps to develop fine motor skills such as grasping, holding, and manipulating a paintbrush, and it also encourages creativity and artistic expression. There is virtually no mess at all, since he only paints with water.  The picture dries and disappears within a few minutes, which seems to encourage the child to draw even more.

Ryan also likes to scribble on his doodler.  Sometimes he tries to imitate me, after watching me write a grocery list or something.  I like how much effort and concentration he puts into his work, and especially how proud of himself he is afterwards.  His self-confidence is growing as he is able to do more and more things on his own.

Language Development- Letter Recognition

For a while now, Ryan has been able to identify and pronounce the letters "Y"and "O" (probably because he eats Joe's O's every morning as part of his breakfast).  This month, I have been trying to encourage him to learn the other letters of his name.  He knows what "R-Y-A-N" spells, but he still has some trouble pronouncing the letter "A".  After working with these jumbo magnetic letters at home, Ryan has also been noticing more letters when we go out to different places.  He gets very excited and talkative when we go down the cereal aisle at the grocery store.  I never before realized how literacy-rich that one aisle is!

Along with tracing these sandpaper letters with his fingers, Ryan has also been working on placing them in the correct order to spell his name.  And this morning, we made some Jello shapes of his letters.  I really tried to get him to focus on the letter shapes, and he did at first, until he realized how yummy they were!

Sensory Awareness- Olfactory

I want to encourage Ryan to smell various foods and spices in order to heighten his senses and awareness.  These smelling jars help toddlers to distinguish between different types of smells.  For this activity, I gave Ryan cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, and thyme to smell.  The goal is for him to match up the two bottles that have the same spices inside.  I think that he is still a little young to understand this concept completely, but I like that he was still able to experience and think about the different smells.

Sensory Awareness- Auditory

Whether its banging on pots and pans, shaking a bottle of pennies and stones, or playing the real instruments from his music basket, this little boy LOVES to make noise!  The more variety in the types of instruments and music that a child is exposed to, the more refined his/her senses become to the sounds in the environment.  I can tell that Ryan already enjoys and appreciates all different types of music because he likes to dance to practically anything, with or without a beat.

Sensory Awareness- Tactile

Sensory-tactile activities serve the purpose of allowing the child to focus on their sense of touch and what they can learn from it.

I made these rough and smooth boards out of sandpaper, foam, and small wood blocks.  Ryan is learning how to associate the feelings of these textures with the words "rough" and "smooth".  You can find texture boards and tablets at most Montessori suppliers, but it was easier and less expensive for me just to make these.

Play-doh is another great sensorial activity.  There are plenty of toddler-safe recipes for homemade play-doh, such as this Kool-Aid play-doh.


I have read several books about Montessori education, but there are two that stand out my favorite.  I constantly find myself looking back into these books and rereading them every few months for new ideas or simply to refresh my memory.

How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin provides a foundation for the Montessori philosophy and also inspires the reader to create a child-focused environment in their home.  This book is clearly written and has lots of helpful information about using Montessori principles with your child from infancy through elementary school-aged.

Teach Me to Do it Myself by Maja Pitamic is a great resource for specific activities that your child can work on in the areas of life skills, developing their senses, language development, numeracy skills, and science skills.  The book follows a logical order (developmentally) and breaks down the Montessori concepts into practical applications.

During the upcoming months, I plan to prepare more activities for Ryan that involve: transferring, sorting, and matching.  I would also like to give him the opportunities for more life skills activities so that he can become even more capable and independent.  This is such a great age.  They are constantly learning, figuring things out, and changing so much each and every week.



  1. I just found your blog via Pinterest, and I have been enjoying reading these posts. My almost-4-year-old is in a Montessori school, and I have a 16-month-old at home. Always looking for ways to incorporate Montessori in our home, and I will be starting a toddler "program" with another mom in the fall. Lots of inspiration here for both environments. Thank you!

  2. Thank you very much for taking the time to inform your readers about the Montessori teachings. I am excited to incorporate these activities for my 22 mos old toddler. I will be heading to my public library today to pick up the two books that you have suggested. Looking forward to learning more about the Montessori philosophies.

  3. @thebungefamily- I hope that your Montessori toddler program has been a huge success... I would love to hear more about it!

    @Jade Hang- Excellent! I hope that you like what you find!

  4. Hi
    Great blog and posts

    May I know what is the toy behind Buddha Board in your second pic?
    thanks in advance!

  5. @Shuchi Agrawal- Thanks! Not sure exactly, but this one looks similar:


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