I love seeing how capable toddlers are becoming once they get close to 2.5 years old. There are more and more steps we can add to practical life activities (for example, larger baking projects with more steps, washing up), many ways to challenge their gross motor skills (like more difficult balancing, going further on a balance bike, and songs with more complicated action sequences), and more refined fine motor skills allowing them to do more refined art and craft activities.
Today I’ve chosen from my classroom 6 of my favourite Montessori activities for 2 years 3 months to 2 years 6 months (and a couple of bonus ones too). Always remember that the ages are a guideline only – use them for inspiration but most importantly follow your own child’s development and interests.
1. Amsterdam puzzle
This beautifully handcrafted puzzle by a Dutch social enterprise Cre8 is harder than it looks. It provides beauty, the children recognise the Dutch canal house shapes, and work to see which piece fits where. A great self-correcting puzzle – if one house is in the wrong place, there will be one piece left over that doesn’t fit and the child can work out for themselves which one it is.
2. Cylinder drop
This is such a unique activity developed by MontiKids as part of their Level 7 kit for 23 – 28 months. I see small versions of the knobbed cylinders used in toddler classrooms and homes but these are really part of the sensorial activities for 3-6 year olds and deserve to have a special unveiling when the older child will be interested to learn about the characteristics of the cylinders like thick and thin, tall and short.
So this cylinder drop is a great alternative for toddlers. It allows them to experience fitting the cylinders in the holes working on size discrimination, with the added bonus that when they pull out the paddle, the cylinders drop through to their delight. You see them repeat this again and again.
3. Felt balls with tongs and tree – transfer work
I love this activity. The children love this activity. And it’s been handcrafted by Russell of Open Play Kids, husband to a Montessori toddler guide of more than 25 years. I had the pleasure to have my stand nearby Russell’s at the AMS conference in 2019 and I am so happy I bought this set for our class. The younger children use their fingers to place the felt balls, the older toddlers master using the tongs to place them on the tree and replace them in the bowl.
4. Geometric sorting board
This geometric sorting board requires the child to work out visually where the shapes will fit and some children also sort the pieces by colour as well to order the pieces in the same colour order. A classic from Plan Toys.
5. Sorting buttons
Some coloured containers, some small buttons – that’s all you’ll need to create this sorting activities. These small containers were a gift from a family from Muji and they have turned out to be their own point of interest getting the lids on and off, being small requires fine-motor control, and there are just 4 so there are not too many colours but also enough variety to give the children a challenge to sort the buttons.
Small buttons and small containers are attractive at this age so while these containers aren’t currently available, I encourage you to look for something similarly small (these are around 2.5 cm high).
6. Russian doll
My children loved the Russian doll in our home. They love opening up the wooden doll to find a smaller one inside. It takes some practice to be able to nest them in the correct order, and they love to find the smallest one inside. If possible look for an authentic Russian doll maker in your area.
Two bonus activities!
1. Scooping beads into icecube tray
I remember my children using this activity in their Montessori playgroup and it was so easy to set up something similar at home from items we already had. I sometimes place a scoop and other times they use sugar cube tongs for transferring. It takes some fine-motor control to master so younger toddlers use work with their fingers and move onto the tongs later.
There is also indirect preparation for reading and learning sequencing as they learn to place them one by one from left to right in the ice cube tray.
Note: these beads are small and should be always used with supervision – they were found in a plant store to place in a vase (yes, you can find materials anywhere!).
2. Geometric peg board
This geometric peg board by Plan Toys is another classic in regular rotation in our class. The children at first place the pegs in any order, then learn to sort them by height and by colour.
I hope it’s fun to see my favourites for this age. And, as always, use these ages as a guideline only. Your child may be doing one or two steps or already have mastered these. Keep following your child, their timeline, and their interests.
Wanting more activities?
- 3 – 6 months
- 6 – 9 months
- 9 – 12 months
- 12-15 months
- 15 – 18 months
- 18 – 21 months
- 21-24 months
- 2 years – 2 years 3 months
- 2 years 3 months – 2 years 6 months
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.