Children learn through play and need new and exciting activities to capture their imagination and improve their skill-set, and yet, it isn’t always easy to come up with new and exciting options that will keep them engaged. Montessori activities are designed to fully engage the child, allowing them a safe place from which to explore and better understand the world and the people around them. The fun thing about Montessori is that things that seem ordinary to us adults are fascinating for children.
Freedom to explore within the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom feeds all aspects of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) curriculum beautifully without exposing the children to traditional classroom assessment and stress. You can build on this at home by allowing your children to explore their environment in a safe and child friendly way.
The Montessori philosophy and the EYFS curriculum (Early Years Foundation Stage) are an excellent way to provide new, active learning experiences and to offer them the opportunity to adapt their skills to different situations and activities. Montessori activities enable children to learn through sensory play, meaning, the smell and feel of the task at hand, actively contributes to the building of their skills by strengthening their neural pathways. A great way to develop new activities that will keep young children engaged is by appealing to their senses.
Montessori grants children the freedom to choose both how and what they want to learn, so long as they are respecting others and the space around them. This has the added benefit of giving us real insight into what the children enjoy, what excites their curiosity and how familiar activities can be adapted to provide a new and stimulating experience.
Fun Montessori Activities for the Home
There is an unlimited range of different Montessori activities, and due to the nature of the EYFS and Montessori curriculum, these activities are often be designed and tailored to suit your child and their learning environment. It is a very organic and open model of learning; however, the activities always centre around the following key areas:
- Practical life
Teachers and caregivers can invent their own new activities to make learning subjects fun for every child.
Let’s take a look at 10 enjoyable and engaging Montessori activities that you can try at home, giving you the ideal opportunity to join in the fun.
- Bead Threading
Bead threading is a gentle activity which children find very absorbing, and can also be a great way for your child to develop their concentration while learning through play.
You can make beads at home using pasta and the activity can be varied by soaking, colouring and drying the pasta. You can also intersperse the beads with small card cut outs that your children can colour or print.
Your child will be so proud to be able to wear their own necklace or if they see you wearing a necklace they have made for you enhancing their self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention honing their maths’ skills of counting, sequencing and sorting their beads.
Children are keen explorers of their artistic skills, and are wonderfully open to trying new ways to express themselves creatively. Household items can make great printing tools. You can encourage your child to explore your home with you and find interesting shapes and textures that they can then dip into paint to create a range of different effects on paper. Kitchen implements, sponges, fabrics and toys can all be used with great effect.
Potato printing is another fun way to get a wide range of effects – simply cut a potato in two and cut a pattern into the flesh of the potato. Dry on a paper towel and dip it into the paint then press firmly onto thick paper to get the best result. Then, fold the printed paper in half and make a magic butterfly.
Extend this activity by discussing with your child what they might expect to see when they use each item and then enjoy some of the more surprising results!
- Water Play
A great way of exploring the senses, water play is always a very popular activity for children. Transform water play by incorporating items that sink and float. Can the child guess whether an item might sink or float? Explore how a pencil may sink if placed upright but float when placed flat. Can sinking items be made to float on top of a piece of paper? Can the child make a boat to carry items? Not only is this wonderful splashy fun, it is also introducing key scientific concepts to the child in a very tangible, exciting way.
- Home Scavenger Hunts
A scavenger hunt can be a fantastic outdoor activity, but many children find it just as much fun to explore their own homes. Find items that fit into a specific category. For example, you might ask for 10 red items, or 5 items that begin with a ‘S’ sound. Alternatively, a small item can be hidden somewhere in the home and clues given to help the child find it. These activities are great ways to get active indoors while boosting communication and listening skills, and reinforcing learned concepts such as colours and phonics.
- Clay Moulding
Clay can be a great tool for your child as it allows them to express themselves in a creative way. Not only does it stimulate their imagination, but it also helps in their muscle development. Be careful to observe and not to instruct. If you set up the activity in a large tray your child will realise that the clay needs to be contained with the tray.
At home, you can use this activity by allowing your child to make his or her own shapes and stories. Ask open ended questions like: “What is this?” or “Tell me about it”. You’ll be surprised on the answers you’ll get from them.
- Junk Art
Raid the recycling box, collect scraps of paper and fabric and get sticking to create all kinds of exciting sculptures from materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Dried petals from an old bouquet of flowers make for an interesting art material with a pestle and a mortar. This is a wonderful way of encouraging children to see the potential in things. It gets them thinking differently about how they can use items at hand to express themselves and it also provides a valuable conversation opportunity about environmental awareness.
When you model recycling to your child, they are more likely to follow suit when they grow up.
- Collect and Collage
Using safety scissors, encourage your child to cut out items from a magazine, brochure, newspaper or catalogue that fit into a particular category. For example, ask them to cut out and collect items of a certain colour or items beginning with a certain sound to build phonic skills. Ask them to choose the theme or choose something they like eg. Dinosaurs, kitchens or cars. This will boost their awareness on what they learn in school. They can make a collage by sticking the cut-outs onto a page which will enhance their problem solving skills. This is a great on-going project that can be added to over time. This could serve as their first vision boards and the start of their career in design!
- Tower Building
Building a tower with building blocks is one of the most enduringly popular activities for children of all ages. However, you can challenge your child to build a tower from other items and talk about the process to explore scientific concepts and gain understanding of the world around us.
Give the child a number of objects of different sizes and textures, for example a cushion, a book, a bowl, a soft toy, an apple and an empty box. Challenge them to build a tower which:
- is tall;
- is strong;
- stands up without falling for 30 seconds; and
- has a cushion balanced on top.
Let the child come up with some tricky challenges for you in order to get them thinking about the concepts that are involved in making the tower stand or fall. Have fun!
Many children love the therapeutic action of hammering pegs into a board, and this is something you can easily replicate at home using simple household items. It is wonderful for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills and gives a great sense of accomplishment for children of all ages. Use a cardboard box and a toy hammer or kitchen utensil to tap pencils through holes in the box or get creative with whatever materials you have on hand. Older children will enjoy tapping nails into wood too.
You can vary this at Halloween by giving them give them a pumpkin and golf tees, or in spring, you could use a watermelon. Whatever you use, your child will surely enjoy the activity.
- Helping mummy in the kitchen
Your child loves to be in the kitchen so why not let them help in cooking?
Many of you eat overnight oats for your breakfast or cold porridge and berries for your children.and these are ideal dishes for your child to help prepare. Allow them to gather the ingredients, and measure and mix them altogether.
You can also use recipe by pictures and let your child count out the spoonfuls. If they’re too young for this, let them transfer half a cup of oats to a cup with same dimension, then to a taller, narrower cup and then to a bowl. Working on a tray, you will contain the mess. These will teach them how to be independent and will introduce some basic math concepts.
Though Lego is not technically considered a Montessori equipment, it can still be presented in a Montessori way. We’ve added it on our list because it can be found in most homes.
For under sixes, Lego is often seen as a “Follow the instructions” tool. And in their age, following instructions is important. Use a small box and fill it with various sized and coloured Lego pieces and see what your child produce. They’ll surely enjoy the process.
And since Lego’s mission is to make all their bricks sustainable by 2030, it will definitely have a positive impact not only to the environment but also to the children’s lives. It’s a good way to teach your children the idea of reducing, reusing and recycling while playing!
The benefits of Montessori activities are far and reaching; from encouraging socialisation and collaborative play, to a hands-on learning enhancing the rate at which new skills are picked up, and increasing self-confidence in their all-important early years. Learn more about our Montessori approach.
There are several nurseries in Dubai, providing excellent daycare and learning opportunities, however, the Montessori nursery offers a slightly different approach that further benefits the children in their care. By combining the age groups from 2½ to 4½ years as we do at Little Land Nursery, it creates a family-like atmosphere and the results gained from that are extraordinary. Older children teach and help the younger ones, learning responsibility and patience; while the younger children learn faster from their peers, even if they are simply observing them. Having older peers to help and guide them increases their self-confidence and helps young children learn how to work alongside each other.
The older children also develop a positive sense of themselves by being able to help the younger ones.
Freedom to Discover
Part of what makes Little Land one of the top nurseries in Dubai is that children are allowed to select the section they wish to work on; this could be any of the Montessori activities, whether art, practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics or culture, and the child is encouraged to complete the task of their choosing. This teaches patience, perseverance and encourages children to feel the satisfaction of completing a project.
A British Curriculum Nursery
As a British Irish-run nursery, Little Land adheres to the EYFS curriculum (Early Years Foundation Stage). Based in Umm Suqeim, Dubai, we are centrally located and easy to find. We are proud of the results we routinely see in the children we teach, and aim to further our reputation as one of the top nurseries in Dubai.