10 Montessori Activities for Toddlers That Teach Concentration
Toddlers are easy to please (until they're not!) because they have mastered walking, so their hands are newly free to discover the world. Almost anything you show them will be of interest, and they are naturally motivated to refine their motor skills by handling a variety of objects and interacting with the world in new ways.
Actions like opening containers, moving toys from one place to another, and putting one object inside of another appeal to a toddler's interest in practicing their different grasps and using all their skills and strengths at the same time.
Montessori educators call this maximum effort.
(You know the deal: your toddler wants to climb all the stairs while carrying a toy.)
When you offer a toddler an activity that allows them to repeat a skill they want to master, they will concentrate deeply. A state of intense concentration is an excellent place for a toddler to be because they just might play independently for a while!
Providing toddlers with activities that require concentration builds their capacity to focus.
Montessorians frequently prepare activities on trays and place them on shelves where toddlers can select them independently. They love the powerful feeling of carrying a toy to a table all by themselves.
What Activities Offer Concentration To Toddlers?
Thinking about these three different buckets of activities and examples will help you come up with a diverse offering for your toddler: Toys, Practical Life Skills, and Nature.
Montessori Toys for Toddlers
Classic Montessori materials for toddlers offer practice with skills they enjoy mastering: inserting a peg into a hole, placing a puzzle piece in the right spot, or stacking blocks on top of each other.
As they improve their ability to hold things in different ways, they are able to combine their cognitive thinking skills with their fine motor skills to accomplish new tasks!
Watch: This toddler self-corrects as she plays, adjusting the way she is orienting the blue block to place it on the post. Wow!
Watch: The toys in the Monti Kids Level 5 Box for ages 14-17 months are examples of Montessori toys for two-year-olds that invite concentration because they are designed to meet children's abilities at exactly the level of effort they enjoy.
Other examples of Montessori toys for toddlers
A collaboration between designers and Montessori educators, the Monti Kids learning team put together an assortment of toys for a box for 11-14 month olds.
Materials we recommend for the youngest toddlers:
An Object Permanence Box that challenges a child to open a drawer to find a ball.
The Push Balls Set, which strengthens your child’s fingers and palms
The Stable Stacker, which builds precision and motor skills
4 First Puzzles, each with 1 shape, which develops early STEM skills
The Peg Box, which advances fine motor skills and shape discrimination
The Tracker, which builds visual tracking skills critical for preschool reading
Watch: Unboxing of Monti Kids Program for 11-14 Months
Practical Life Activities for Toddlers
Your little one can start helping around the house. They notice what you do and now have the motor skills to follow you around and do it with you!
Involving your toddler in chores from dusting to putting silverware away shows them that you know how capable they are.
Plan ahead by thinking about what you can offer them to hold or use while they accompany you, for example a small rag or a trash bag.
Build your child's sense of independence by giving them practical life tasks. When they feel empowered, they are less likely to grab or hang onto you.
Even if there's no chore being accomplished, toddlers enjoy using the household tools they've seen you handle. So feel free to make up a task. "Can you help me by wiping all the chairs?"
Introduce these activities as you notice your toddler is able to stand steadily and use both arms in coordination.
Wiping a surface with a rag
Putting clothes in a hamper
Stirring ingredients in a bowl
Pouring pet kibble from a measuring cup into the dish
Putting toys on a shelf before a nap or bedtime
Nature Activities for Toddlers
Getting outdoors every day is a must-do for toddlers. They collection information about the world around them by seeing, hearing, and feeling the natural world, from grass to snow. (And don't get us started on mud!)
Outdoor activities for toddlers may range from true immersion in nature such as hiking in regional parks to simply playing outside.
Chasing after a rolling ball in the yard requires practice of gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, the observations your little one will make about how the environment impacts them offer lessons that they absorb effortlessly. For example, how we adjust our muscles to accomodate for a slope in the ground or how the air feels different when you stand in the sun compared to in the shadow of the house.
Some nature-inspired activities to do with a toddler outdoors are:
Hunting for treasures. Bring a small tote bag to collect items from the ground. Use language to help your little one begin to distinguish categories such as leaves versus petals.
Throwing. Outdoors is where we can say "Yes!" to throwing. Bring a ball outside!
Al fresco meals. Share a picnic experience with your toddler and give them jobs along the way. Ask them to carry a water bottle, help smooth out a blanket to sit on, and to put food containers in the trash or back in your bag when you are finished.
Montessori activities for toddlers are fun! Take note of your child's interests, thinking beyond their favorite shows. Do they like to hide things? Follow Daddy? Use "tools"?
Find ways to bring these interests to your play area, into the outdoors, and to practical life activities. When you offer your little one an activity at just the right level of challenge, you'll see them repeat it over and over, getting into that magic zone of concentration.