Thursday, June 7, 2012

Montessori for 19 to 20 Month Olds

We have been doing Montessori-inspired activities at home for the past five or six months, and Ryan really enjoys them. He tells me when he is ready to do his "sori work" and then I set up the materials.

Organization of Materials

These months mark the beginning of Montessori's sensitive period for order.  I recently organized Ryan's materials onto trays and shelves in a more practical way than we had them before.  Ryan understands the expectation of putting all of his materials back before he chooses a new activity, and he has been doing this consistently.

I switch out the materials approximately every other week, based on his current interests.  If there are particular works that he has already mastered, I will replace them with more challenging ones.

Ryan has been very excited to start using his Montessori work mat.  He carefully spreads out the mat before choosing his work, and he does his best to roll it back up when he is finished.

Color Matching and Identification

We have been focusing on matching colors and identifying them by name.  I made this color wheel out of construction paper and painted clothespins.  

It has taken Ryan a while to gain the coordination necessary for opening the clothespins and clipping them.  Since he is still working on mastering this skill, I will probably keep this activity in the rotation for a while.

Along with the color wheel, Ryan has been practicing matching his colors with wooden people in cups and with popsicle sticks in felt.  These are all simple to make, but if you don't know how to sew a stitch (like me!) you can purchase the popsicle activity on Etsy for $5.

I noticed that when Ryan works on these, he likes to tap each color and say "no, no, no" until he finds the correct color.  I love it when he thinks aloud and I get to hear the inner workings of his brain!

So far, he can accurately identify and say the colors: yellow, blue, and orange.  He sometimes gets confused between green and red, and he never seems to remember purple. His favorite color is yellow.

Sorting and Transferring

Sorting these kush balls by color also requires fine motor coordination in order to successfully use the strawberry huller to transfer them.  This activity has been very challenging for Ryan at 20 months, and he works on it with such determination that he tends to block out everything else and focus solely on grasping with his little fingers.

Ryan really enjoyed going through these items and sorting them by whether they are "big" or "little".  He seems to understand this particular concept easily, for some reason.

The final sorting activity involves placing these transportation vehicles into a category of either land, air, or water.  Ryan is obsessed with trucks, cars, airplanes, and boats, so this was inherently motivating for him.

Fine Motor Development

Hanging small fabric scraps onto a clothesline is another activity that helps to develop the pincer grip.  Fine motor skills, especially the pincer grip, will be essential to learning how to hold a pencil in order to write. 

Since putting the spools of thread onto chopsticks (see 15 to 16 month post) has become too easy for Ryan, he has now moved on to placing the spools onto pipe cleaners.  Next will be spools onto shoelaces, and then threading and lacing.

Letter-Sound Recognition

Ryan has continued to work on the letters and their sounds, and he can now correctly identify about half of the alphabet.  These letter blocks, the alphabet puzzle, and the alphabet abacus have been very useful pre-literacy materials for practicing these sounds.

I have also been giving Ryan some foam alphabet letters to play with in the bath.  We talk about their sounds and he likes to move them around and stick them on the side of the tub.

Practical Life Exercises

Practical life exercises help children learn how to do everyday living activities in a purposeful way.  In the upcoming months, I plan for Ryan to have many more of these types of opportunities.  I can't wait to give him a learning tower for his second birthday, so that he can "work" right alongside me in the kitchen and feel included in the food preparation.

In the first picture, Ryan is sweeping up crumbs into a mini dustpan (although Lucky usually does not allow many crumbs to be left around!)  In the second picture, Ryan is helping to prepare lunch by slicing a banana.

He is so proud of himself after he is given a responsibility and a chance to be helpful.  Even throwing something into the trash can gives him a feeling of accomplishment.  He will usually cheer for himself afterwards.  I love the self confidence at this age!


  1. Aww - his favorite color is the same as yours! That is, if your favorite color still is yellow like it was when you were growing up!

  2. You are such an amazing mom! What fun and beneficial activities :)

  3. Were can I buy the material? Thanks for such great ideas!

  4. Hey! This is truly awesome. Can u tell me if there's a site or store from where to get the materials for these activities, especially the Kush balls, I can't find them anywhere. Thanks a lot!!

  5. @Anonymous- The miniature kush balls were from The other materials in this post came from Michaels, Etsy, dollar stores, consignment shops, and just random things that I had laying around the house.

  6. Where did you get the pincer that picks up the kush balls?

  7. @Anonymous- It is actually just a strawberry huller, like this one from Amazon:

  8. You are such a fantastic mum and I wish I knew how to do these with my own kids when they were growing up. You touch my heart so deeply. God bless you real good.

  9. Thank you for the strawberry huller :) Thanks for taking the time to answer. Where did you get the wooden bins that he is putting his kush balls? Thanks so much :)

  10. Me again. Where did you get the big letter cards where he is matching a letter to the letter card? Where did you get the letter cards and letters to match it. I can use foam letters to match but I cant find letter or number cards so big. Thanks :)

  11. @Anonymous- Thanks! The organizer was from The Container Store. I'm sure they also have them at other places where they sell office supplies. (It is actually a desk organizer). Are you talking about the sandpaper letters? I ordered mine off Etsy, but they also sell sandpaper letters/numbers on Amazon or any online Montessori store.

  12. Hi! I love what you are doing with your little one. I probably don't chose the best time to ask you a question as you will be soon very busy with the new baby but I would love to have your opinion. My daughter will be 20 months old in a couple of days. We have been doing Montessori for about 3 months now. She does very good with the practical life activities (she is very independent and do a lot on her own so I just needed to do things the Montessori way). She is also putting things away, her toys or activity trays in particular. However, I have the harder time finding activities she likes to do: she doesn't understand the sorting activities, even less when it is by colors, she loves reading but is not interested in learning letters at all, she can do puzzles but is not really interested in spending time doing them, she does like pouring and transferring but not for long... I am running out of ideas and am very sad that I can't find any activities on which she can really concentrate and spend time on. By any chance, do you have any ideas on which direction I should take? Thank you so much in advance and for your beautiful blog!

  13. @Anonymous- Thanks for checking out my blog! It sounds like your daughter really enjoys the practical life activities, so I would probably just focus on providing her with a variety of those for now. Her interests will change as she gets a little older... and maybe then she will be ready for the sorting activities, literacy activities, and puzzles. It is important to let the child lead and for her to do the activities that she is interested in. One suggestion I have is to create a sorting activity that only require two categories, for example, sorting between red and blue. Maybe this would help to ease her in to the whole concept of sorting.

  14. Dear Dana,

    I am loving perusing your blog! I have been reading a book by Maria Montessori titled "The Child in the Family," and am very interested in teaching my 20 month old son in the Montessori way. However, I am wondering where to start. Should I look at your pages from the younger ages and start with those activities, or should I jump right in to his age level? If you could let me know what you think, that would be great!

  15. @Casey-Mae- I'm so glad that you found my blog! Thanks for reading! I would suggest starting with activities based on the interests and skill level of your son. If you know that he has already mastered some of the skills involved in the early activities, it might be boring for him to do those (and he probably wouldn't choose them) so maybe you can move on to more advanced activities. The ages that I categorized the activities into are just guidelines. There may be children who are much older and much younger doing the same activities, as long as they are interested and developmentally ready for them. I guess the goal is to prepare activities that are challenging and interesting for your particular child, and to observe him for growth and readiness. I'm not sure if that was much help at all (?) Please email me if you would like to discuss more! Dana520 at aol dot com.

  16. This is one of the best websites I've read about Montessori. You helped me by labeling each age by month so I can easily see what I can do for my 18 month old and what we can do next. You described everything wonderfully and explained the reasoning behind most tasks. I am an occupational therapist and can appreciate all the fine motor activities! thank you thank you! keep up the great work and awesome parenting!!!!

  17. @Anonymous- You are very kind to say that! Thank you so much! I'm so glad that it was helpful!

  18. i am so lucky to find your blog this is awesome>>can you tell me about book for montessori activities in home


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