Montessori Materials

Montessori Mother | 10 Favorite Things

In this post I am sharing some of the favorite things in our classroom at Montessori Mother ELC, including 5 practical supplies and 5 Montessori materials. I may have been inspired by Oprah’s favorite things, but decided on just ten. 🙂 Some of these links are affiliated with Amazon, but they won’t cost you any extra. They are all links to products I have purchased myself for the school.

– practical items –

Silverware

This tiny 12pc set of very REAL silverware is what we use when we introduce solid foods to Baby and also what we use with the toddlers until 3. They are the perfect size proportionally for their little hands. The forks and knives are not sharp at all. The sorting tray is a great addition, but you need to paint it with some lacquer or oil to make it washable.

Potty

This is the little potty we have at the school which is very low and easy to use for the little ones. It’s also very easy to clean and has a lid that the child enjoys opening and closing. My favorite part is that is doesn’t do anything. It’s simple and functional and looks like an adult toilet.

Paint cups + matching brushes

At the easel I only give one or two colors of paint at a time. The matching cup and brush help the child to know where to put the brush after painting, how to keep the colors separate, and keep the space clean.

Toddler easel

Our easel is a small DIY project where I cut about 20cm off the length of an easel from IKEA, added paper clips to the top, and a stick-on hook for an apron, and pre-cut wide paper.

Cleaning supplies

The matching mops are made by Obi and can be shortened to child-size. The broom set is available in blue, green, or pink. It’s best to have a child-sized version of the cleaning utensils you already use at home so that you and the child can clean up together. All these are hung with metal hooks secured in the wall.

– Montessori materials –

Metal Coinbox

If you save coins when you travel you might already have some large coins to give to your little one to work with. This box is a treasured material in the toddler classroom. I keep large coins (old Deutsche marks) in a basket to the side and have attached the key to the handle with a ribbon so it won’t be lost.

Rubber band board

This is by far one of the most frequented materials in the classroom. The toddlers use it every day. In class I also keep the pegs and rubber bands separated in plastic containers (found at Rossmann) so no younger babies put the little pieces in their mouths.

Counting beads

This is one of the first materials we introduce for counting. You can present it with the beads to the side in a tray or basket. Through experience with this material, the child understands quantity. They learn the numbers through experience with you in the environment.

Introduction to numbers

Here is a discounted version of the Montessori spindle material I found. This should be introduced when your little one can already recognise number symbols. Introduce zero first, and gradually, the following numbers up to nine.

Introduction to writing

If your child is showing an early interest in writing, this material might be something you can use at home. It includes lowercase letters with a grooved inset for tracing with the finger or wooden stylus and an additional fine sand tray for writing the letters. *This is not an official Montessori material and wouldn’t necessarily be used in the classroom.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this post interesting and helpful!

-Katelynn

The Montessori Method

Gender equality in Montessori

According to numerous studies, children develop a socio-cognitive understanding of gender groups in the first 3 years of life and categorise themselves into one of those groups. (1) In this formative period, what should parents and educators do to support the child’s sense of equality? What role does gender equality play in the Montessori approach to education?

background

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was a person who challenged gender boundaries in medicine, politics, and of course, education. She was one of the first specialised female doctors in Italy, lectured internationally for women’s rights, and advocated for social reform through the Montessori approach to education.

The Montessori method is an education for life, preparing the whole individual to coexist with others in a peaceful world. For this reason Dr. Montessori knew that it was important for girls and boys to be educated together as equals. It was just as important that the boys learn the “practical life” skills of food preparation and cleaning the floors as it was that the girls study mathematics and science. (4) 

For all of the work Dr. Montessori did for education, women, children, disabled people, and science, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times!

gender-neutral elements of Montessori 

  • Montessori materials are available to all children at any time for them to follow their own interests and learn. 
  • The clothing children wear is chosen based on function, comfort, and protection rather than appearance or gender recognition.
  • Interactions between teacher and student are the same regardless of the child’s gender. It is the work of the Montessori teacher to make their own personal transformation into a being of love and knowledge so that they can create a secure place for children to learn, absorb, experience, and explore.
  • The responsibilities given to each child to be safe and courteous to others apply to all children, regardless of their gender.
  • Colours of the furniture, materials, clothing, and environment are not directed or intended for any specific gender.
  • Books found in a Montessori classroom would not reinforce any gender norms. If possible, they will actually challenge them.
  • We respect and accept each child, including their gender identity.

social gender

As soon as the gender of a child has been assigned, their social gender is often immediately assigned too: what colour their clothes will be, what kind of toys they will have at home, and what their future hobbies, careers, and relationships may look like.  (2) How is the child’s life then based in equality if so many parts of it have already been decided, sometimes before they were even born?

“Until the adults consciously face their errors and correct them, they will find themselves in a forest of insoluble problems.  And children becoming in their turn adult, will be victims of the same error, which they will transmit from generation to generation.”

— DR. MARIA MONTESSORI, THE CHILD IN THE FAMILY

*Social gender is the way one expresses their gender identity. It also includes the way a society perceives gender. Finally social gender includes the way society encourages conformity to gender norms through gender roles and expectations.  

There is NO need for gendered baby clothing. 

The only general requirements for children’s clothing are that it

  • is suitable for the climate 
  • facilitates freedom of movement
  • encourages collaboration + independence

Dressing babies in feminine or masculine clothing based on their gender assignment enforces conformity to current gender norms and subjects the child to stereotyping. In a perfect world this would not happen. Clothing and accessories for children are not supposed to be a way of preventing them from being misgendered. Babies and toddlers have no masculine or feminine traits; they are all equal. 

*note Gendered clothing for babies and toddlers, at least in the United States, was not popularised until the 1950’s when pink for girls and blue for boys became a gendered colour convention. Increasingly since the 1980’s babies and toddlers have been wearing outfits similar to adult clothing. 

There is NO need for gendered baby toys.

Studies show that babies and toddlers do not distinguish between stereotypically feminine or masculine objects according to their own gender, but rather are interested in the toys which are familiar to them. (3)

Over the years I have had many male and female toddler students who are interested in woodworking, dressing up, cooking, caring for younger babies, running and jumping. All the assertions by parents you’ve ever heard such as, “she won’t like that because she’s a girl” or “he needs to do this because he’s a boy” or “boys/girls are so…” are unfounded and based on gender biases, stereotypes, and myths. Babies and toddlers have no masculine or feminine traits; they are all equal. 

other blogposts about Montessori materials and activities for 0-3

Thank you for reading! I hope that you found this blogpost interesting and useful.
– Katelynn

references

  1. “Children and gender identity: Supporting your child”: a medical article by Mayo Clinic
     https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/children-and-gender-identity/art-20266811#:~:text=Most%20children%20typically%20develop%20the,gender%20by%20age%203%20years.
  2. “Understanding Gender”: a medical article by gender spectrum
     https://genderspectrum.org/articles/understanding-gender
  3. “Early androgens, activity levels and toy choices of children in the second year of life”: a psychology article by Texas A&M University
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230810604_Early_androgens_activity_levels_and_toy_choices_of_children_in_the_second_year_of_life
  4. “Dr. Maria Montessori, Feminist”: a blogpost from The New Inquiry
    https://thenewinquiry.com/blog/dr-maria-montessori-feminist/
Classroom Tours, Montessori Materials, The Montessori Method

Practical life in the Montessori Toddler Community

montessori toddler classroom, wooden staircase, art area, montessori table and chairs, toddler environment, infant community, shelfie, berlin montessori school
photo by Natalia Smirnova

WHAT IS PRACTICAL LIFE?

Practical life work is the cornerstone of Montessori from 0 to 3. Caring for the environment and self-care is the greatest goal of the walking toddler. Now that they can carry themselves upright like adults, they want to achieve total functional independence. Their school can offer rich opportunities to reach functional independence because the entire classroom should be prepared to suit their needs. At school the teacher is observing them constantly and can change the environment for them. This means offering concrete practical experiences by which children can do purposeful work and have success in doing so. This is the work which will open the door to responsibility and self-awareness, and link the child to the world.

The activities are called ‘Exercises in Practical life’ because real everyday life is carried on in which all housework is entrusted to the little ones who execute, with devotion and accuracy, their domestic duties becoming singularly calm and dignified.”

— Dr. Maria Montessori. The Discovery of the Child. Ch. 3.

Das Kind Magazine

For the full version of this article (translated in German!) and other Montessori inspiration by the Deutsche Montessori Gesellschaft, you can sign up for biannual issues of “Das Kind” magazine for €20 a year.

PRACTICAL LIFE FOR NORMALISATION

In Montessori we refer to “normalisation” as the integration of intellect and movement. Especially for children who struggle to find peace and balance, through practical life they find opportunities to create order, repeat movements, explore the senses through manipulation, move freely, and imitate adults.

Movement is the secret for holding the attention of the child.”

— Dr. Maria Montessori, Creative Development in the Child I

Activities in practical life have a cycle of preparing the work, concentrating on the process, and satisfied rest once the work is complete.

GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICAL LIFE

  • Organise activities in the appropriate areas.
    Water materials should be near the water source; tooth brushing should be in the bathroom; and so on…
  • Each activity has its own place in the environment.
  • Every activity is complete.
    The presentation of the material should be logical so that the child can follow the use of the material easily. Have extra materials available in case something needs to be replaced.
  • The characteristics of the materials should be appropriate for the child.
    Weight, size, fragility, and other factors must be considered.
  • Make the materials beautiful.
  • Colour code the materials.
    Most of the materials should be matching. This is for the sake of beautiful presentation and to remind the child which materials go together. If an activity is not colour coded it does not need to be excluded from the environment.
  • Use points of interest.
  • Points of interest encourage the use and repetition of materials. This may include sensorial experiences such as making bubbles, fogging a mirror, or anything that is exciting and interesting for the child.
  • Only keep a limited number of materials.
    There are few materials of which we have many. For example, you may have several cutting knives so multiple children can cut together in the kitchen area. However, in principle there should be only one of each exercise. This teaches the child to wait for his turn and respect the work of others.
  • Check the activities often.
    Prepare the environment before the children arrive and constantly over the course of the day. Check every exercise to make sure that everything is clean and ready to use. If you find an abandoned mess, invite a child to help you. If no children clean up with you, clean it yourself with precision, in case a child might be observing you. If you don’t have time to clean at that moment, take the material out of the environment and finish cleaning it later.
  • Practice your presentation until it is done normally and beautifully before you present it to the children.
  • Observe the child and make changes you observe help them to have success.

HOW TO PRESENT PRACTICAL LIFE MATERIALS

  1. Invite the child.
    Approach the child and model how to get someone’s attention respectfully. Give an enthusiastic invitation which is not a question, nor a command.
  2. Go together with the child.
    Keep the child’s pace. You may offer your hand to the child and the child may accept it or not.
  3. Involve the child.
    During the first presentation, do only the first half of the work and let the child finish it.
  4. Analysis of movement
    Observe your own movements: how fast they are, how you stand, if you are blocking the child’s vision…
  5. Language
    Give the child the names for things before presenting. This is done by isolating the noun or verb and avoiding moving while speaking. “sponge”
  6. Be aware of your body posture.
    When you bend over, bend the knees and lean forward slightly. Remain standing. Don’t squat or kneel less the child could also squat or kneel.
  7. Wear aprons
    The adult and the child both put on an apron when the activity calls for it.
  8. Let the child take over the work.
    When the child shows they want to take over some work, let them take it over. As soon as a child loses their concentration on a new task, you should be nearby and ready to get involved. Sometimes letting child hold something or fetch something for you is enough to let them feel involved.
  9. Clean up.
    As soon as you see a working child has lost concentration, you should get involved and give the clean-up presentation. Always encourage the child to clean up independently. If need be, you can go back over spills or fix small things in the material later. Children often forget or don’t clean up and need to be reminded to do it. This doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy cleaning.

a photo tour of the practical life in our classroom

– WELCOME TO MONTESSORI CLASS! –

montessori dressing area, frames, ikea hack, shoe shelf, shoe brushing, spice rack, book display, frame display, toddler shoes, cube chair, selfcare, nienhuis, berlin montessori school
photo by Natalia Smirnova
  • Get ready!
    The first thing toddlers do when they come into class is sit down, take off their shoes, put them in a “special place on the shelf”, hang up their jackets, and put on their indoor slippers. They feel so proud as they put their things away and get to work.
  • Cleaning shoes
    If they are very interested in shoes, there are also two shoe brushes fastened to the side of the shoe shelf where they can clean all their friends’ shoes and even the parents’ if they like.
montessori toddler sink ikea hack, watter source, child sink, montessori bathroom, practical life, hand washing work
photo by Chad Chittenden
  • Washing hands

Having a low source of running water is by far the greatest resource I feel that the environment offers toddlers. As soon as they are standing, they can stand in fascination for minutes letting the tiny stream of water fall over their fingertips and turning the spout on and off. The sink satisfies the sensitive period for water and gives the child access to all the water-based practical life activities. It allows them to explore and “play” with water, while having the responsibility and focus of purposeful work.

montessori potty, toilet awareness, potty awareness, elimination communication, prepared environment, montessori toilet
  • Toilet Awareness

    In the bathroom there is this beautifully and simply prepared area for potty learning where little ones can practically explore their interest in the potty and learn how to use it Montessori-style.

– WORKING IN THE KITCHEN –

orange juice toddler making orange juice montessori practical life, food zone ikea cups, bed bath and beyond mini orange juicer, montessori snack, functional independence, montessori kita school in berlin
toddler cutting a bamama using a joie crinckle cutter toddler knife in the prepared kitchen area of montessori mother learning center in berlin, germany. This encourages funtional independence and the child can prepare food for himself whenever he feels hungry
photos by Kerly Ilves

  • Get a drink

When toddlers feel thirsty, they can go to the kitchen area and take a cup and pour themselves some water from a pitcher which comes out of a dispenser or prepare themselves fresh orange juice made from toddler-sized mandarins.

  • Prepare a snack

When the feel hungry they can go to the kitchen and prepare a snack for themselves. I always put out 2 food preparation activities at the child’s level, one group snack preparation activity (at my level to bring down and do with the children), orange juice squeezing work, and the water dispenser with just a minimal amount of water inside. As my trainer Patricia Wallner would say, “Never put out more water than you are willing to mop up.”  🙂 Food preparation activities include cutting bananas, cucumbers, or strawberries, peeling pears, peeling mandarins or hard-boiled eggs, plucking grapes, cracking peanuts, and spreading cream cheese on crackers.

This dishwashing station is one of the montessori practical life tables which we diy made from an ikea bathroom shelf hack, muender email enamel, and montessori design by nuccia polka dot toddler apron. Toddlers wash their own dishes when they want to in the montessori infant community or playgroup and have fun playing with water in a purposeful work way.
  • Washing the dishes

Sometimes after eating or drinking a toddler may want to wash their dish or those of their classmates. I also put out 2 “dirty” metal plates each class with just a little bit of coffee grounds on top to give the opportunity to make a distinct dirty-then-clean connection.

beautiful montessori dish washing presentation with child-sized materials and muener email white enamel basins a dish brush and mini bottle of soapy water
photo by Karen Ong

PRESENTATION:
The child fills the basins with water, squeezes/shakes in some liquid soap (90% water, 10% baby-safe dish soap). They carefully choose which single dish they would like to wash. Often, they enjoy using it to transfer water between basins – a beautiful discovery. After they have finished washing the dish, they set it to dry on the rack and pour out the basins into the bucket. They bring the bucket to their low sink and dump it out. After replacing the materials, they mop up any spills with a mop for the floor or a towel for anywhere else.


– CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT –

Taking care of their environment is a toddler’s favourite activity because it is their way of connecting and having an impact on the world around them.

our montessori cleaning area is beautifulluy color coded in blue to support the montessori sensitive period for order in children and toddlers from twelve months to six years. this area includes mopping child mop and adult mop from obi in berlin, a table washing cart handmade by montessorimmaterials in berlin with muender email enamel so toddlers can care of the environment in berlin's first montessori playgroup, sweeping toddler proom and dustpan, and wall photo duster for toddlers and babies to clean all hanging from string loops off wall hooks to support order at the child's level
photo by Chad Chittenden
  •  Washing the table

Presentation: When you or the child notice that a table is dirty, invite them to wash it. The child fills the pitcher of water and pours it into the basin. Replace the pitcher in the basket. Wheel the cart to the table which they would like to wash. Wet the brush and soap and rub the bar of soap into the brush. Show the child how to scrub the table and let them try. After the table is scrubbed replace the brush and take the sponge. Slowly wet the sponge and squeeze it out – invite the child to try. The child wipes the table. Show the child where to put the sponge. Use the mitt to dry the table. Invite the child to clean another table. When they are finished, dump the water from the basin to the bucket. Carry the bucket to dump it out. Replace the bucket. Push the cart back to its place.

*This cart was made by hand with love by Montessori Mother Materials*

  • Mopping
    The toddler’s fascination with mopping is truly beautiful. Once the floor was wet, and now it’s dry! One of the first signs I see when a baby is becoming a toddler, is that they start mopping! In the toddler class, the mop is almost constantly in use because toddlers often spill drops of water when they do practical life and are eager to mop up every drop.  
  • Sweeping

It’s quite difficult for toddlers to sweep something up and dump it into the trash. They love concentrating on this work and doing their best. I also have a small vacuum they can use to clean up messes if they spill sand or soil.

  • Dusting

Recently I added the duster to our cleaning area for dusting the walls and picture frames. Because brooms and mops can only be used on the floors, I found that the toddlers also needed something to clean the walls with and this was important to many of them. As Montessori guides we must observe the child’s needs and adapt the environment to meet them where they are at.

using an aquarium in the toddler classroom or montessori kita toddlers love to feed the fish in this quiet cozy reading zen corner of the environment which is very meditative, small, sunny, and beautiful. It also supports a love and respect for life nature while encouraging gentleness and calm around smaller living things.
photo by Kerly Ilves
  • Feeding the fish
    Feeding the fish teaches respect for other life. It is also so relaxing to watch the fish swim around and can help the toddlers find calm.
Montessori cloth washing station with a polkadot apron by montessori design by nuccia and drying rack red enamel in the prepared montessori toddler community environment
photo by Karen Ong
  • Washing cloths
    Cloth washing is one of the most advanced practical life activities for toddlers who really need to exercise their concentration and do work involving lots of movement and multiple steps of varying difficulty.
montessori toddler sink filling up red polka dot pitcher made from enamel for the practical life cloth washing table station the sink is in the prepared montessori bathroom with mini sink from ikea
  • AGE: from 2 years
    PRESENTATION:
  • Invite the child to put on an apron with you. Ask them to choose which cloth from the bucket they would like to wash. Put the cloth in the left basin. Invite the child to fill the pitcher and carry it to the basin. Fill the first basin and go back for more water to fill the second. After soaking the cloth with water, demonstrate how to lather the cloth with the soap bar and scrub it. Wring out the cloth and hang it on the clothesline. Both of you take a clothespin and secure the cloth. Invite the child to wash another cloth by themselves. When they are finished washing or lose concentration, begin the cleanup process. Put the bucket on the floor. Each of you pour a basin of water into the bucket. Let the child carry the bucket of water to the sink and empty it. Replace the bucket and use the mitt to dry the basins and table. Mop up any spills. Hang up the apron.
montessori window washing small mini spray bottle from nienhuis special toddler sized water work practical life in the montessori parent child community playgroup in berlin germany
photo by Natalia Smirnova
  • Washing windows
    This is material is a very popular material on the shelf. Toddlers love to go all around the school and spray the windows, glass doors, mirrors, and aquarium with this tiny spray bottle and watch the water slowly run down. They use a squeegee and a small towel mitt to wipe up the water. Older toddlers like to bring a step stool so they can clean even higher. It is one of the best materials for very active toddlers because it offers movement, water, and clear before + after results.

– SHARING CULTURE WITH TODDLERS –

The child has the potential to incarnate any human characteristic, language, religious/spiritual connection, and culture. Here are two practical life activities for sharing culture with toddlers.

montessori wooden stair art hanging work choosing the photo art to hang on the wall in the montessori toddler community environment in my montessori parent child playgroup in berlin
photo by Natalia Smirnova
  • Hanging art

This material allows the child to choose which art they would like to hang on the wall. In the basket there are various famous paintings, photographs and drawings by famous artists like Van Gough and Renoir.

culture practical life activity decorating a holiday christmas tree with toddlers
  • Decorating a holiday tree

    Over the holidays the toddlers really enjoyed decorating this real tree with baby-safe ornaments and bead strings.

– CARING FOR PLANTS –

montessori sweeping watering can green garden work on wall hooks prepared in the montessori care of the outdoor environment in nature farm to table little ikea wall shelf
toddler watering the flowers barefoot in child garden in montessori school in berlin germany
  • Working in the garden

In the garden the toddlers really enjoy watering the flowerbeds, planting seeds, sweeping the deck, blowing bubbles, jumping on the trampoline, exploring the sandbox, and collecting the herbs and strawberries they grew.  

plants in the child's room classroom in montessori caring for nature, basket of balls, white monhtessori shelf, cube shelf, plant watering work purple mini ikea watering can, flower arranging, practical life, tulips
  • Flower arranging
    In this sunny corner toddlers can water their plants and arrange fresh flowers into tiny vases. These flower arrangements adorn our table during the group snack time. Usually one toddler arranges all three and carefully places them side by side on the table with lace doilies underneath.
  • Plant watering work for babies
    It’s such a special experience when children are discovering plants, how to care for them, and thus how to respect other living things.

    AGE: standing/12 months
    PRESENTATION:
    The first time I present this to a child I fill the watering can myself and invite them to watch me water the plant. I slowly pour half the water into the soil, using two hands. Then I set it down and invite the child to try. They will water the plant or possibly spill on the floor or try to drink the water. This is okay because they are learning! Use the sponge or towel to wipe up the spill. Invite the child to re-fill the pitcher of water. If the child is still not walking confidently, I fill the pitcher again for them with a very small amount of water from another pitcher which I keep at my level.

– LIFE SKILLS –

  • Self-Care

Toddlers love themselves deeply. In their self-care area children have access to several activities such as brushing + combing hair, wiping their nose with a tissue and tossing it in the waste basket, applying face cream (baby lotion), and trying on hats and sunglasses.

toddler beading sewing activity life skills practical life shelf work, montessori materials, wooden beads, sewing activity
photo by Natalia Smirnova
  • Sewing
    In our classroom an entire shelf is dedicated to threading and sewing activities arranged from the simplest to most challenging. Eventually the toddlers can embroider with a yarn needle – work which they tape off and get to take home with them.
montessori woodworking station by ikea with a light and small todler tools so children can use wood and tools, saw, drill, hammer, nails, screwing, srewdriver, bamboo broom and dustpan, ikea pegboard and stool, made by montessori mother materials, the only montessori playgroup toddler classroom in germany montessori kita school in berlin
montessori woodworking station toddler sawing using a saw with soft balsa wood, cutting wood safely with asaw, montessori moments
photo and materials by
Chad Chittenden
(Montessori Mother Materials)
  • Woodworking station
    Woodworking is a very special area of pride in our school. Humans have the natural tendency to use tools to do their work. Not surprisingly the presentations for these materials are very short, because toddlers as young as 12 months can use them intuitively.

    IN PRACTICE:
    Each tool has its own pre-prepared block which fits into the table insert. This keeps the block stable, isolates the difficulty of the tool, and supports the sensitive period for order. Toddlers love to sit at this station and go through all the tools which are arranged from least to most difficult, bottom to top, right to left. The presentations are hammering nails, wearing goggles, unscrewing screws, cutting soft balsa wood strips with a saw, sanding, and drilling holes. There is a small broom and dustpan available for sweeping up sawdust.

– GROUP WORK –

group practical life, community toddler snack time and washing the table wiping with sponges and small mini toddler-sized water spray bottle
adorable toddler with visor at montessori class in berlin's only montessori playgroup
toddler baking day making banana muffins with ikea aprons working together as a group mini muffin trays and banana mashing
tea brewing work for toddlers garden farm to table mint and lavender tea for toddlers to make for themself and their friends
  • Group snack
    After the toddler work cycle one or two toddlers volunteer to prepare the snack and dishes for everyone. They push the food and plates to in a cart over to the table and sit down together. I invite each child individually to join us at the table where they may serve themselves or each other food and water.
  • Wiping the table
    After snack the toddlers can help clean up by wiping the table with sponges and water, putting their dirty dishes back on the cart and bringing the cart to the kitchen. Usually the interested toddlers do this for the rest of the group.
  • Baking days
    In addition to preparing snack for each other, once per month we have a baking day when we make muffins or cookies and enjoy them together at the end of class.
  • Brewing tea
    AGE: from 2.5 years, or when the child uses scissors
    Brewing tea using the mint and lavender leaves from our garden is the closest experience available in my school to a farm-to-table experience. They carefully brew the tea for their friends and enjoy it together at the table.

– SAY “GOODBYE” –

After a long morning of hard work, we gather together and sing songs. Then we say ‘goodbye’ before toddlers and carers get ready to go home.

montessori dressing area toddler wardrobe montessori practical life shelf, work carpet, montessori mother and parent and child
photo by Natalia Smirnova

Thank you for joining me on this practical life tour through the Montessori Toddler Class! I hope you found it useful and interesting.


You can learn more about our school HERE > About Montessori Mother ELC

You can order Montessori furniture + materials HERE > Montessori Mother Materials

Photographers:
Natalia Smirnova
Kerly Ilves
Chad Chittenden
Karen Ong

Montessori at Home

Materials for Montessori-at-Home

The home offers so many opportunities for developmental activities. In this blog post I have recommended different DIY activity ideas and my Amazon material recommendations listed by age. These are all materials that the children use in class which inspire concentration and teach new skills.

0-6 months

How to make your own Montessori mobiles: (free downloadable instructions)

The purpose of Montessori Mobiles is to stimulate sight, hearing, touch, and eye-hand coordination, and to enable the child to discover how he is able to interact with his environment and produce change within it.

You can use this guide to make your own naturally-moving Montessori mobiles out of simple crafting materials. 

If you purchase the Montessori mobiles included in the MontiKids Level 1 Newborn Box, you can get 60,00 euros off with the code MONTESSORIMOTHER.

Montessori Teething and Grasping Toy

This is a favourite baby toy because it is so easy to see and to grasp onto. It also doesn’t roll away as quickly as perfectly round balls so it serves as an inspiration for crawling short distances. (€5,99)

6-16 months

How to make your own Montessori boxes

“Montessori materials do not necessarily have to be purchased at a high price, not even for small children and especially not at home. Some things can also be made very quickly using very simple means, such as this box with a crocheted ball for squeezing into the box. So simple and yet a material that has a lot to offer.” ~ blogpost by Anna, Eltern Vom Mars

3 einfache DIY Montessori-Materialien für Kleinkinder – Eltern Vom Mars

Peg board with rings

Babies love to work with pegs. First they take them out of their holes and eventually they are able to put them back and release using the pincer grasp. I love this material because it offers so many levels of difficulty and can grow with your baby gradually over 12 months. (€24,99)

16 months – 4 years

How to make a DIY gluing box

The Montessori gluing box is a fun activity for toddlers which is about learn glue and a gluing brush. Older toddlers can also make detailed and colourful collages. Here is another DIY guide from Eltern vom Mars which includes a baby-safe recipe for glue.

Ein simples DIY Montessori Klebekästchen und ein Rezept für selbstgemachten, ungiftigen Leim – Eltern Vom Mars

Magnetic Drawing Board

This is one of the top favourite activities in the Montessori baby and toddler class. It gives the opportunity to practice grasping and drawing. They also train eye-hand coordination and concentration by pushing the metal beads down with their pointer finger. (€9,99)

I hope you found this post helpful and interesting!

Montessori at Home, The Montessori Method

Montessori Mixed Age Groups: in school & with siblings at home

toddlers doing practical life work in montessori class

at home

Tips on the Montessori home environment for siblings

  • arrange the environment or play space so that both children can use it at the same time (for example, a movement mat for baby and a table and chair for your older child can be near each other so that they can learn from each other through observation)
  • instead of buying multiple versions of the same thing, teach siblings that if a material is in use, it’s unavailable. It it is not in use, it is available to either sibling
  • if one sibling wants something the other is using, teach them to trade for a reasonable alternative instead of just taking it
  • organise the shelf so that the materials on the lower part are intended for younger siblings, and materials on the top of the shelf are intended for the older siblings
  • keep any small parts in containers which only the older child can open. This is a safety precaution that allows your 3+ child to satisfy their need to work with tiny items and keeps your under 2 child safe
siblings without rivalry montessori book recommendation

Book Recommendation: “Siblings without Rivalry” by Adele Faber

in school

For a school to be considered Montessori, each class must have mixed age groups. Maria Montessori stressed the importance at least a 3 year age difference in a class (3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 years). In 0-3 we separate the classes from 2-16 months and 16 months to 3 years because the big changes the child goes through in the first years of life require differently prepared the environments.

toddler doing coinbox material work at montessori table in class

why a mixed age group is the best way to support learning and growth

1. each child is in one area the teacher and in another, the learner

Mixed-age groups are the ideal platform for learning responsible behaviour and mutual respect. Everyone is at some point the smallest or the largest, sometimes the strong or the weak, the person seeking help, or the helper. In Montessori young children grow up caring for each other and nurturing their self-esteem, self-confidence, and respect and empathy for others.

In Montessori children can strengthen their knowledge by demonstrating or communicating it to others. Younger also seem to be most at ease when surrounded by older children and enjoy learning from them by observing them with silent fascination.

2. every child has room to grow at their own pace

Having all the materials within the age group available at the child’s level, allows them to advance onto the next challenge when they are ready. It also makes it possible for them to follow their interest and advance in their strongest areas, while still being able to enjoy learning in others which are more challenging. Because teachers do not have to set the instruction pace by a whole group, each child is given the ability to learn at his or her own pace in every aspect of their development. 

3. it allows for cooperation over comparison

When there is an age difference, older and younger children are able to work together to achieve a goal and solve problems. When every child is expected to be at the same stage in their development, it opens the door for competition. No longer do we see each child’s individual skills and abilities, we see which child can do the same thing better and faster.  Children will help each other when cleaning up after work, putting things away, caring for the environment, and caring for each other. 

toddler choosing wall art in montessori class

the big picture

This relationship of mutual care and respect, of self awareness, and awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of others make Montessori mixed-age classrooms the ideal place for learning peaceful conflict resolution.

The Montessori approach is an Education for Peace and mixed age groups is its cornerstone.

– all photos by Natalia Smirnova