Friday, 2 May 2014

Birthday themed toddler activities & some Montessori love (19 months old) Part I

Toddler activities, sensory play, and Montessori
 We have been very, very busy this week. I've been researching, reading, and sleeping very little, thinking about the direction I want to take our tot school in and about our 'homeschool' future (or lack thereof). 

Now, I'm not going to get into a lot of details with this post, but I will say that I have been reading up on Montessori for a while now - I think I first wrote about it a month or so ago in the Colours Themed Toddler Activities post. I am finally getting around to really trying to work Montessori not only into our Tot School/toddler activities, but also into our daily lives and home set up. 

One of the reasons why I love Montessori so much is how easy our toddler activities have been to set and clean up. Even the really messy ones took no more than five minutes to prepare and/or put away. Clean up became a learning activity itself because I got the Toddler to help! I doubt we are going to be working exclusively on Montessori activities, but I will definitely be making sure to include a lot. 

Shall we get on to these educational and easy peasy to set up toddler activities, or work as Montessori lingo calls it. Thanks to Marnie from Super Smart Mama for pointing that out! 

Okay, okay, one more thing - this past week was my husband's birthday so a lot of 'work'/toddler activities included something birthday related like candles, flour (for baking cakes), sprinkles, etc. 

Sensorial (sensory play)  

I guess this could also be practical life because it's cooking practice. Or math because we measured and talked about numbers? Or Language because we got to discuss so many different things? I'll leave it categorised as sensorial because we got to engage so many senses!  

Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies

I'm not too sure about the category, but what I do know is that we had so, so much fun! I gave him all sorts of baking/cooking ingredients (U to D, L to R: vanilla sugar, a jar with flax seeds, black sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, flour, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ground oats, and cinnamon sticks). We felt each, talked about how they smelled, and even got to snack on some contents!  

Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies

We also had our extra cooking supplies to talk about, and mix with. Again, this activity was awesome! We sat together on the ground, and he went straight for the vanilla sugar. I opened the package for him, and poured a bit into the oats, and then into the large mixing bowl. 

Afterwards, he started carefully pouring the other materials into different bowls. As he did, I talked about the items, their color, smell, taste, and named them. We engaged so many senses for this one, and I even taught him how to 'sniff'/smell something. 

We moved on to a different, but similar 'work' that also combined as pouring practice (pouring flour and using a sieve):

Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies

The Toddler really enjoyed mixing everything and making a gigantic mess: 

Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies     Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies

His favourite part (I think) was trying to unscrew the cap to the spice jar, filling it up with flour, putting the cap back on, and dumping out the flour. 

Welcome to Mommyhood: sensorial (sensory play) activities with spices and herbs and cooking supplies

He's really gotten into 'turning' things and screwing them, so I will most definitely be providing activities that allow him to focus on developing these skills next week. 

Authentic Practical Life 

I still like to call these types of activities life skills, but Montessori language categorizes them as practical life. I am pretty terrible at using the proper categories/labels, as I am still new to Montessori, but I'm learning. 

For example, we worked on peeling hard boiled eggs (do you see the letters on the fridge in the background? That's also something new that we are working on!) 

Welcome to Mommyhood: montessori practical life

For the first time, he peeled his egg perfectly without my help! We have been working on this for a few weeks now. I put the small plate on his tray for him to put the shell, but he prefered to give it to me. 

He also adores helping me to cook. I tried letting him wash the carrot. 

Welcome to Mommyhood: Montessori practical life

He was more interested in soaking the sponge and wringing it out, and then simply munched on the carrot. Good thing I washed it myself first! What he did love was pouring the ingredients into the pot and mixing. 

I've also been letting him scoop his own portions of meals from the serving bowl like this Russian salad.

Welcome to Mommyhood: Montessori practical life

Other activities include: 

  • Meal prep - peeling his own fruit (banana, mandarin), using a butter knife to cut his banana, spreading peanut butter onto crackers using a butter knife
  • Helping to unload and load the dishwasher
  • Wiping off his high chair after eating (and before) 
  • Putting his toys away
  • Picking out his own clothes 
  • Self care: brushing his teeth, brushing his hair, getting his coat and shoes, washing his hands 
  • Helping to get his snacks (I have so much to add on this!) 

Pouring (preliminary practical life) 

We worked on some random pouring activity/baking practice with baking soda and sprinkles. Mommy had baked three cakes for Daddy's birthday after the Toddler had gone to bed for the night - I had to make it up to the Toddler for baking without my sidekick, so he had a go, too, kind of... really, he just made a mess, but hey! It was fun!

Welcome to Mommyhood: montessori practical life

Welcome to Mommyhood: montessori practical life

More pouring (using sprinkles in the shape of balls) 

Welcome to Mommyhood: montessori practical life

Welcome to Mommyhood: montessori practical life 

These types of activities (preliminary practical life as well as actual, authentic practical life activities) are some of the Toddler's favourite. Before I started researching Montessori, he actually 'came up' with them for himself when he was about 15 months old! 

I had set down a glass of water for myself on our coffee table as well as the Toddler's own cup. He walked up and simply started pouring the water from one cup to the other. He ended up making a mess, but I loved seeing his brain working and watching him come up with an activity for himself. We have had to work on teaching him to just let our water glasses be as I do sometimes actually want to drink what I put on the table. 

Fine motor skills 

Welcome to Mommyhood: fine motor skills practice

Welcome to Mommyhood: fine motor skills practice


A simple baking soda and vinegar experiment with sprinkles (plus more pouring practice).

Welcome to Mommyhood: science for toddlers (baking soda and vinegar experiment)

We did this for a grand total of about 90 seconds, but those 90 seconds provided lots of entertainment as he laughed at the reaction. 

Then, we put everything into the dishwasher! I have quite the little helper now-a-days. I think I need to set up some Montessori practical life lessons for Daddy, and maybe then, he can be as tidy as our Toddler. Just kidding. Kind of. 

Nature walk/bike ride

Sheep in my inlaws' backyard. The Toddler wakes up every morning saying 'Mama, BAAAAAAAH'. He practically screams the baah because he is just so excited to get outside and check out the sheep. Here he is running to them:


Up close and personal with some very inquisitive sheep. They licked my shoes. 


Windmills (there is a farm there that usually has cows we can walk up to, as well, but they weren't there at the time. 

Another duck!


And then it was time to head home/my in-laws' house. Our new house will probably have sheep visible from our backyard, too. We have a creek that runs behind our home, and the property opposite of ours is used for grazing for farm animals. No animals at the moment, but our new backyard where we don't live yet:  

Alrighty folks, that's a wrap as this is already really long! I'm splitting this post up into two. Tomorrow, I will be sharing our work on language, reading, math, and music. 

As you can see, we had a very busy and Montessori inspired Tot School week. I was actually pretty desperate to get rid of that 'Oh my goodness! I'm a terrible mother that neglects my child' feeling that I had because of all of the moving craziness that we had to do last week. 

I can positively say that this week, I feel much better about the attention I have given the Toddler. We got so much accomplished and spent a lot of quality time together. Like I said at the beginning, all of these activities were so easy to set up and tidy up, which is the main reason that I think we were able to accomplish so much. Be sure to stop by tomorrow to see the rest of our activities! 

Today, I am linking up at The Weekly Kids Co-opMontessori Monday, Share it SaturdayWe love Weekends hosted by Emma at P is for Preschooler and Jolanthe at homeschool creations.

For more tot school activities and toddler fun, please visit my Toddler activities page. 

Don't forget to stop by my tot school Pinterest board, too!

Thank you so much for reading!