A Summer of Montessori: 45 Fun Things To Do With Your Toddler

My two-year-old is home for the summer. He’s in that not-so-sweet spot of too little for most camps, but maybe too big to just be home with me and his baby sister all day.

Since my days still largely revolve around the baby’s naps, it’s hard to commit to even mommy and me activities.

So, I’ve been trying to plan things at home by making a true schedule of activities. Let’s face it, if I don’t make a schedule that resembles a to-do list, not much will take place other than a lot of boredom! I love Montessori activities because the curriculum incorporates a lot of practical life skills.

He’s at the perfect age where he loves getting more responsibility. It’s good for his confidence and reinforces his role as big brother.

Below are 45 Montessori activities your little one can do each day.

Check out our list, pick your favorites, and enjoy the summer months!

  • Go on a nature walk
  • Slice fruit/veggies
  • Wipe Tables
  • Plant seeds
  • Cut paper
  • Serve food throughout the day
  • Do puzzles
  • Use dustpan
  • Mix (lemonade, oatmeal, yogurt and fruit)
  • Practice hand washing
  • Sort items in the house (small to large)
  • Practice putting on socks and shoes
  • Make a bird feeder
  • Pick flowers and arrange them
  • Wash dishes
  • Practice pouring
  • Play Memory match games
  • Find different textures throughout the house and outside
  • Make homemade instruments (tap spoons on Tupperware, strings across paper plates, paper towel roll horns)
  • Name the day of the week, month, date and year
  • Water plants
  • Fold laundry
  • Take out trash. Sort recycling throughout the day
  • Pick out clothes to wear for the week
  • Make bead necklaces
  • Practice scooping and transferring
  • Use a work mat for all activities. Practice rolling it up and putting in away.
  • Make a flag with things about yourself on it
  • Report on the weather
  • Pick a place on the map and learn 3 things about it.
  • Learn some yoga stretches
  • Practice buttoning and zippering
  • Have a dance party
  • Practice manners
  • Use tongs throughout the day
  • Research the planets
  • Identify sounds throughout the day
  • Draw letters in a tray of sand
  • Walk on a line
  • Draw letters in a tray of sand
  • Talk about shapes. Identify them throughout the house and outdoors
  • Learn about the parts of a tree
  • Carry things on a tray or a plate
  • Look at and then create art
  • Find things that sink or float

What’s Your Family’s Mission Statement?

My dad is an amazing story teller. As a child I was entertained endlessly by the stories he told about growing up as one of seven children. There are some stories he’s told me so many times that I actually picture myself there with him.

They range from amusing (like when all seven of them chained their bikes together to go for a ride, or when my grandma left him at the food store because, really, who can keep track of seven kids!) to serious (how hard it was to make ends meet and how much Spam he consumed as a result).

I cherish these stories and was recently struck by The Stories That Bind Us.

The article highlights a fascinating study by a psychologist named Dr. Marshall Duke from Emory University around family tradition and narrative:

“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”

I’ve often thought my father’s tales were primarily about entertainment, but have come to realize they are so much more. They have shaped who I am and what I am a part of. They are why I have such a great respect for my parents’ work ethic and why I have that same determination myself. They are why I don’t take small things like family traditions and education for granted. And they are why I now ensure each night as Emma goes to bed we sit together and I tell her not only the stories of my father’s childhood, but of my own. Her favorite is how Pa used to do the same thing for me each night.

Duke’s research is utterly fascinating to me. I’ve always loved my dad’s stories and felt a strong connection to them, but I don’t think I’ve ever realized just how deeply they’ve impacted me. Apparently I’m not alone. According to Duke, telling stories and keeping traditions alive produce happier, more communicative families that are better at resolving conflict and working through tough times.

Today’s assignment is to consider what stories you want to pass down and think of your family’s mission statement.

Eat Your Veggies!

Mom vs. Kids Menu

In one corner we have me: a self-proclaimed “healthy foodaholic.” I read labels for pronounceable ingredients, I check sugar and fat content, and I try to choose food with limited additives and preservatives.

In the other corner we have the reigning champion: the Kids Menu, with items that rarely, if ever, meet my approval. Sometimes I feel like the annoying parent who complains to the school about the curriculum that not many others have an issue with. So instead of trying to change the norm, I’ve created my own rules for healthy eating. Here are some of things I follow:

  • Emma must try everything 3 times before she decides she doesn’t like it. I think sometimes she initially says she doesn’t like something because the taste is so new. So we make the three try deal, shake on it and I uphold my end of the bargain. So far, we’ve only had to strike beets!

  • She always has what we are having. No separate kids menu in our house. This serves a couple of purposes: 1) We make adult food popular and there is rarely a meal now where she won’t want to at least try what we are having (admittedly it was a bit awkward to explain why my husband’s beer was not ok). 2) We save time and money not having to make two dinners.

  • She never orders off of the kids menu at restaurants. We allow Emma to either share with us (another cost saver and totally feasible due to the huge portions most restaurants serve) or order her own entree from the adult menu. She often won’t finish but we always take it to go—another cost saver.

  • We advocate balance. Despite my obsession with healthy eating, there is always time for treats, and so we don’t discourage the occasional splurge. Emma’s school taught her about “Whoa Foods” and “Go Foods”. I love this concept and we’ve carried it through to our own eating curriculum. Emma knows ice cream is a Whoa (eat in in moderation) and veggies are a Go (have as much as you want).

I know the battle with the almighty Kids Menu can be a tough one, but there’s hope! I’d love to hear how you all navigate around the chicken fingers and pasta.

Happy Tracking (and eating :)!

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visualthinker

Not Yet

My mornings sound something like this: “Let’s get changed Emma! Let’s go potty Emma! Let’s brush your teeth Emma!” You get the idea. I am a go, go, go person and most days my husband and I are amused by how much Emma is like me in this regard. She hardly ever sits still.

So the other morning as she sat quietly turning the pages of a book, I said “Emma let’s have breakfast” and she looked up at me from her book with the most serious expression and said “Not yet”. I froze for a moment not only because she typically bounds to the kitchen at the mention of food, but also because she was right. We don’t need to run through this list every morning at warp speed (well, I guess I technically do because I have to get to work), but so what if we stray a day here and there.

Everyone has mornings where it takes more time to dust the cobwebs off…even two year olds. So if Emma doesn’t want breakfast yet, I’ll sit and read with her, stroke her hair and savor the quiet moment of stillness. Because there will be a point when she is rushing out the door and I’ll be longing for the two year old whose whole life was just these surroundings.

The only lesson today is to take a study break and don’t do everything on your to do list…at least not yet.