I’ll be honest. I had trouble coming up with only 6 activities for 12 to 15 month olds. There are so many things toddlers of these age might be working to master. So, as always, look to your child to see what they are practising right now, what level are they at, and select and adjust the activities accordingly. Don’t forget to then rotate the ones out that they are no longer playing with to perhaps try another one to see how that goes.
I decided to present two shelfies in the end, to remind us that every child is different. You’ll see one of the shelves has a basket of vocabulary objects and a basket of musical instruments. These could be included at any age. Similarly, some children may already be interested in drawing (for example, using Stabilo 3-in-1 pencils) or clay or playdough. However, as many children are often still quite oral up to around 15 months, I’ll save these for the next in the series – 15+ months.
What skills are they practising at this age?
Young toddlers are mastering:
- refined grasp and eye-hand coordination
- movement of their body – sometimes pushing a chair or wagon, to taking first steps, to running, climbing, pushing a tricycle with their feet, swinging, hanging from their arms, and carrying heavy objects (maximum effort)
- language – there is a language explosion around this age. Keep naming everything around you, use rich language, read books, and play games with vocabulary baskets
- some one step practical life activities can be offered – eg, drinking from a glass, pouring a glass of water using a small jug/pitcher
Let’s see what I chose for my favourite Montessori activities for 12 to 15 month olds.
Shelfie version 1
- Pop up peg toy – I love how they use this toy at different ages. At 12 to 15 months they are working to get the pegs back in the holes, sometimes correcting themselves to put them the “right” way up. Some children can also make the pegs jump – followed by an adorable laugh.
- Chips in slotted box – I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember where I purchased the one in the photo. This is great for children who have mastered posting a ball. They then work to get the chips into the slot. Easy to DIY with some poker chips and a shoe box. Or I linked similar.
- Large knobbed puzzle – they continue to practice their grasp on the large knobs, sometimes a pincer grip. From 12 months, sometimes a piece goes back into place as well. But can be closer to 18+ months for other children. This one was purchased in a wooden toy store in Amsterdam many years ago. Look for similar in second hand stores and good wooden toy stores.
- Coloured rings on pegs – this is a classic Nienhuis activity. It might be a bit expensive for home, but perhaps you can DIY something similar. The rings are the perfect size for practising threading onto the pegs. And later they will start to match to the colours. But not generally on purpose at this age.
- Horizontal dowel – I like this sequence as we are now threading across the child’s midline. They’ll need to be able to cross their bodies later for writing, dressing etc, so look to see if they are turning their body to the side, or keeping straight on to the activity and crossing from one side to the other.
- Horizontal dowel (serpentine) – this is slightly more difficult than the straight horizontal dowel. It’s fun to try not to touch the metal bar at all. The young toddlers can’t generally mimic this precision yet though.
Shelfie version 2
- Pop up peg toy – see above
- Ball hammering – this toy has a relatively long life span. Where the younger babies were pushing the ball through with their palm, a 12 to 15 month old often chooses the hammer to bang the balls through working on an additional skill.
- Shape sorter – I have different shaper sorters in my classroom to isolate the shapes – one for a cylinder, a rectangular prism and a triangular prism. At home I don’t think it’s necessary to have all of them. So you can look for a box that could be adapted, or find one like in the photo or linked where you have several shapes at a time. If the triangle or square end pieces are proving too difficult, you can simplify by only leaving in the cylinder pieces.
- Coloured rings on pegs – as above
- Musical instruments – instruments to bang or shake are perfect for this age. Here a cabasa and a tambourine.
- Vocabulary basket – we can use vocabulary baskets even with younger children and giving them the name of each object as they explore them (usually with their mouth). Here we have a basket of items from the kitchen, a classified basket, with 5-8 objects in it. Then I name them as they feel around them. We can ask, “can you find the whisk?” and see if they respond. If they find the whisk, we can say, “You found the whisk.” If not, we can simply name the object they find instead and make a mental note to keep repeating the name “whisk” with the object.
Wanting more activities?
Check back for more activities by age coming soon. You can also download a free 42-page pdf of Montessori activities by age (0 to 4 years) from my website.