Montessori is so much more than a home decor trend, in fact, it isn’t about decoration at all! If you’re looking for easy Montessori ideas that don’t involve spending heaps of money on expensive furniture, then you’re in the right place.
In this blog post we will be looking at two easy Montessori Ideas:
- Introducing Practical life activities
- Adjusting the home environment for independence
Easy Montessori Idea One: Practical Life Activities
Children learn so much from getting involved in real life activities.
By laying the table, children learn about angles and positioning – all without a worksheet in sight!
Baking is fantastic for weighing and measuring, along with counting too. They are gaining a real understanding of how heavy things are rather than it being an abstract concept.
When making a sandwich, the child is learning about fractions and gaining a verbal knowledge of procedural instructions.
It’s worth noting with all of these activities, that they are best done when you are there to ‘sportscast’ or ‘commentate’ – use the correct vocabulary to aide understanding.
Adopting practical life activities are great for two reasons:
- They make your child more independent, which frees up your time;
- Independence leads to confidence. Children love that feeling of doing things all by themselves.
All of these activities are suitable for toddlers and pre-school aged children. I’d recommend starting around the age of 2.5 to 3. Use your best judgement of YOUR child and their capabilities.
How do practical life activities relate to learning?
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Feeding a pet = hand-eye coordination, measuring
Baking = following instructions, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, counting, measuring
Watering plants = caring for the earth
Putting away laundry = matching and sorting
Putting away groceries = sorting, learning about new foods
Example of Easy Montessori Practical Life Activities
If your child isn’t used to any of these activities, I recommend starting with the first list and moving on from there.
18 months-3 years:
- brush hair
- wash hands
- help pack away toys
- water plants
- put on Velcro shoes
- put on / take off socks
- choose between 2 outfits
- get dressed
- wash fruit and vegetables
- make orange juice
- set the table
- help sort laundry
3- 4 years
- help with cooking
- assist with baking
- make bed
- put clothes away
- feed a pet
- help with recycling
- get a drink by pouring from a jug
- arrange flowers
- help in the garden
- use toilet – with supervision
plus above activities
- help load dishwasher
- wash hair
- help push shopping trolley / read grocery lists
- use toilet independently (including wiping, flushing, washing hands)
plus above activities
IMPORTANT: Your child should never be left unattended in the kitchen, especially whilst using the oven, hob or sharp knives
Easy Montessori Ideas 2: Home Environment
The Montessori hashtag on Instagram has over 7 million posts – many of which seem to have nothing to do with anything Montessori. Brands know how to capitalise on popularity and package something so that it seems essential.
Items like a child-sized sink, Montessori kitchen tower or dressing area might seem like ‘must have items’ but proceed with caution before spending a lot of money.
Some items are undoubtedly helpful – such as a simple stool to help your child reach the sink in the bathroom and kitchen.
At home, we have often adapted what we already had rather than buying something with ‘Montessori’ on the label.
Alternatively, if you or someone you know is handy and could make a special kitchen tower or child-sized sink for you, I’m pretty certain that plans for such structures exist on Pinterest. I won’t recommend any here, since I haven’t tried them myself.
Order and Accessibility: Montessori environments are characterised by a sense of order and accessibility. Shelves are low, materials are organised, and everything has a specific place. This helps children develop a sense of responsibility, independence, and respect for their surroundings.
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Make sure your child has access to the things they need
For example, are they able to get their coat down from the peg independently?
Do they know where their shoes are kept?
Are they able to access a drink without having to ask?
Do they know where toys are supposed to go when they are asked to tidy up?
Can they reach the clothes in their wardrobe so they can actually get dressed independently?
Accessibility = independence. The more child-friendly and accessible you make your home, the more independent they will become
A child cannot possibly become independent in hanging up their coat or even getting dressed in the morning, if they quite literally can’t reach their things.
Here are some other things that you may wish to consider doing during this process:
Implementing an Easy Montessori Environment at Home
When you begin , look at the following tips to find out how you can make your home a Montessori environment where the environment itself acts as a third teacher.
Declutter and Simplify: Begin by decluttering and simplifying your child’s spaces. Keep only the materials that support their current interests and developmental needs. Rotate toys and materials periodically to maintain engagement and challenge.
Create a Sense of Order: Organise your child’s play and work areas with clearly defined spaces for each activity. Use low shelves, baskets, and trays to store materials, making them easily accessible to your child.
Bring Nature Indoors: Introduce natural elements like plants, natural fibres, and wooden furniture to create a calming, nurturing environment. Encourage your child to care for plants and observe the changing seasons through windows and outdoor play.
Designate Spaces for Concentration and Movement: Establish areas in your home where your child can focus on individual tasks, as well as open spaces for movement and exploration. This balance helps children develop self-regulation and motor skills.
Adapt as Your Child Grows: As your child develops, their needs and interests will change. Continually assess and adjust their environment to support their growth, fostering a love of learning and independence.
One of the first easy Montessori hacks we introduced at home was a makeover of our entrance hallway. It much easy for everyone to know where their belongings are if they are clearly labelled and stored!
Ideas to try
- Low level pegs for children’s coats, hats and scarves (change item options out seasonally)
- Baskets or cubby holes for shoes and bags
- Low mirror
- Small basket for hairbrush and comb
- promotes independence
- name recognition
- places importance on personal hygiene
Easy Montessori ideas = practical life activities. In order to make practical life a possibility for toddlers and pre-schoolers, they need to be able to reach the main workstation. We have IKEA FÖRSIKTIG stools in several zones of the house. They are easy enough for the children to move independently and can be stowed away easily too.
Ideas to try:
- peeling and slicing a hard boiled egg;
- washing plates/ loading the dishwasher;
- making a sandwich;
- helping to prepare dinner – e.g. making pizza or kneading bread dough;
- making juice;
- washing and peeling fruit and vegetables.
- Strengthens the muscles in the hands and develops fine motor skills;
- Helps children understand teamwork and collaboration in order to get a job done quicker.
Depending on the space you have in your home, child-sized chairs and tables can really help children gain independence. There’s a big gap between a high chair (which can feel ‘babyish’ to toddlers) and the adult-sized dining room furniture.
We use the IKEA LÄTT chairs and table, which is just big enough for two.
Ideas to try:
- show children how to lay the table correctly;
- allow them to arrange flowers for the dining table;
- clear plates away.
- teamwork and collaboration;
- promotes social skills;
- real-life numeracy: counting the knives, forks and spoons needed.
One easy Montessori hack is to lower clothes racks so that your children can reach them easily – this means that your child doesn’t have to rely on your assistance to get items down which should speed up the process of getting ready in the mornings!
We also added a DRÖMMARE mirror from IKEA. It’s made from acrylic plastic, so you don’t need to worry about breakages or cracks.
Worried about inappropriate outfits?
This is definitely a learning process, however to start you could:
- remove and store items that are out of season;
- provide a choice of two outfits.
- fine motor skills: buttons and zips take a lot of getting used to!;
- cognitive skills: remembering which order clothes to be put on;
- gross motor skills: balancing to put trousers on;
- understanding of appropriateness of clothes according to the season and occasion.
Teach good hygiene young, and it’s much more likely to become an ingrained habit. But here’s the thing, your child can’t exactly adopt good habits independently if they can’t even reach the sink.
Whilst many traditional Montessorians would suggest a low basin for hand washing, it isn’t always possible and a stool can work just as well.
Try these easy Montessori Ideas:
- add a low mirror so your child can see what they are doing. Ours is a IKEA perspex mirror, placed so the children can see when washing their face and teeth.
- keep a washcloth and comb in a little basket for accessibility.
- make hand-washing fun with kid friendly foam soaps
All of these easy Montessori activities are brilliant for building independence, but you can make them even more beneficial by narrating the activities. For example, when making a sandwich, talk through the process and the key words used. ‘First we butter the bread’ (butter the bread together), then we add the filling and so on. This is also known as procedural language and is super helpful when teaching children to follow instructions.
More Joy, Less Overwhelm.
Easy Montessori ideas are just one way to make days at home with young children easier. Sign up to my low-cost membership ‘How I Drink my Coffee Hot’ for access to all 10 mini courses. Topics include:
- The Importance of a Daily Rhythm
- How to fill your Child’s Cup
- The True Meaning of Play
- Your Role in Play
- The Steps to Independent Play
- Simplifying Play at Home
- Creating a Playful Home Environment
- The Role of Outdoor Play
- Raising an Independent Child
- The Path to Seamless Transitions
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