Back when Little Bear was a toddler if somebody told me I should do practical life activities from the Montessori method with my toddler I would have said, “What is practical life in Montessori?” Luckily, I have since learned quite a bit about the Montessori methods, and I really appreciate the practical life activities. Unfortunately, I find many of the trays just a bit too hard for my almost two year old. I want Smiley Man to learn how to fold washcloths this young, but he just can’t get it (See the trays with folding washcloths here. That tray didn’t work out so well.)
There are still plenty of practical life activities my toddler can do, though. It took me awhile to find practical life trays that were developmentally appropriate for Smiley Man, so I thought I would share some of the fruits of my labors with you. Here are 5 Montessori practical life activities that are perfect for toddlers.
Glass Gems/Flat Marbles in Small Containers
Start with all the gems in one container. Have your toddler transfer the gems one by one with their fingers into the other container. Smiley Man really likes this activity, which is weird to me because it is so simple. It seriously keeps him busy for a long time though. Also, he sometimes likes to pour the gems into the other container, which I let him do because pouring is an important practical life skill to learn too. We first did this activity with our Winter tot trays, but it continues to be one of Smiley’s favorites.
Pompoms in Ice Cube Tray
The pompoms start in a small pile or container. There should be one pompom for each opening in the ice cube tray. Have your toddler transfer one pompom into each opening in the ice cube tray. Smiley still puts more than one pompom into an opening sometimes, but other than that, he loves this practical life activity.
Spoon Beans into an Egg Carton
We recently did this practical life activity on one of our Easter tot trays. I originally used jellybeans rather than dry beans, which was a major mistake. ;) Once I switched to dry beans though, Smiley Man did really well with this activity. I am really surprised at how much better he is getting with a spoon.
Pouring Colored Rice
I definitely recommend doing this practical life activity on a tray. It will be much easier to clean up. Start with all of the rice in one container. Have your toddler pour the rice into the empty container. Repeat. Smiley Man loves this one, but he doesn’t have great control yet. A lot of the rice ends up on the tray, but since it is on a tray, it is pretty easy to clean up.
Crayons in Water bottle Ice Cube Tray
I bought this water bottle ice cube tray to make homemade bathtub crayons, but I am constantly surprised at how many times I have used it since then. For this activity, have several crayons next to the ice cube tray. Have your toddler put one crayon into each empty spot in the ice cube tray. For some reason, Smiley Man seemed to do much better with one-to-one correspondence when he did this activity, then he did with the pompoms in the ice cube tray. He also really liked the sound the crayons made when he dropped them into the water bottle ice cube tray. He is so fun to watch!
These Montessori practical life activities are perfect for toddlers. They are not too easy, but not too hard. Plus, you will be surprised at how long they will keep your toddler busy. Smiley Man really concentrates when he works on this Montessori practical life stuff.