My 18 month old son is so high maintenance. It’s a constant challenge to come up with activities for him that actually keep him focused and occupied. If you have a young toddler, I’m sure this sounds familiar to you as well. However, when I was researching ideas for DIY activities and projects, I found a lot but not that were easy to produce, were non-messy and more importantly, had the ability to keep him focused for more than just a minute or two. Here are 10 simple and easy DIY Montessori activities that are sure to keep your little one focused and occupied all while enhancing their motor skills and speech development.
DIY Montessori Activities that are Simple, Engaging, and Non-Messy
1. Drop Colorful Puffs Down Paper Towel Tube
This really couldn’t be any easier. Take the cardboard tube from a used paper towel roll and simply tape it on a wall. Show him how to drop the puffs in the tube and catch them in a small container. This activity will improve their hand-eye coordination. You can also incorporate counting and color identification as well with the puffs. No need to fret if the playroom is covered in puffs. An easy solution is to incorporate another activity of sweeping up the puffs into a dust pan.
2. Sweep Colorful Puffs into Dust Pan
My son loves his little broom but usually ends up just sweeping nothing. So this is a way to actually teach them some coordination and motor skills by having them sweep up those small colorful puffs that got everywhere form the paper towel tube activity.
3. Wrap and Unwrap Small Toys in Aluminum Foil
This Montessori activity couldn’t be easier to set up – I’m sure you all have aluminum foil and little toys everywhere, right? All you have to do is cut up some aluminum foil into 6 x 6 inch squares, and wrap up tiny toys such as small blocks, tiny toy animals, etc. and show your little one how to unwrap it to get the prize inside. My son loves the texture of the foil. This is a great one as far as keeping them focused and occupied. They are so curious to figure out what is inside and how to get to it.
4. Fit Straws into Clear Bottle
This activity might be the most simple one to set up. All you need are straws and an empty plastic water bottle. This is a great activity to improve your young toddlers’ fine motor skills. I would suggest only putting out a few straws so there aren’t hundreds of straws everywhere that you have to clean up. Less straws will also allow them to focus more on the task opposed to just playing with the straws by themselves.
5. Stuff Ribbons into Clear Jug
For this Montessori activity, wash and dry out a large clear plastic bottle. If you don’t have ribbons, you can find inexpensive rolls in different patterns at your local Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Simply cut the ribbon into different lengths and show them how they can stuff the ribbon into the top of the bottle and take them out. Since the ribbons are different lengths, this is another great opportunity ask them which ribbon is longer and which one is shorter. Or, which one has flags on it and which one has the baseballs on it, etc.
6. Fit Plastic Discs into Slit of a Plastic Container
Take an empty Puffs container and cut a small 2 inch by half an inch slit in the top big enough for a small plastic chip to slide into. I found these plastic bingo chips for about $4 on Amazon. This activity will challenge their dexterity and fine motor skills since the opening is smaller than they might be used to. This Montessori activity provides an opportunity to practice counting and color identification as well.
7. Water Play in Kitchen Sink
Now I know this isn’t exactly a DIY activity, however, it’s a perfect solution if you need to do something in the kitchen (close by the sink of course). For instance my stove top is directly behind the sink so if I need to cook something up, I’ll put my little guy in the sink with a few cups and let him fill the cups and dump it out. He absolutely LOVES this. He would sit in there all day if I let him!
8. Flash Cards
This isn’t exactly DIY either but it’s a very simple educational activity to help with their speech development. I have these great flash cards that incorporate the texture of the word on the card and gives you ideas of all the different questions you can ask your little one about the word. My little guy likes when I lay them out on the floor and ask him where each word is.
9. Hula Hoop
This isn’t DIY either but it’s a very simple and affordable idea that your little one will love. I bought this hula hoop for $5 at Michaels and my little guy loves throwing it around or simply walking with it around his body. Try to find one that has the little beads inside so it makes a rain sound when they are playing with it.
10. Bead Threading
You can use an old shoe string and beads you might have around the house or you can buy these pretty cheap on Amazon. This activity is a little more challenging since they have to navigate the string through the hole and then pull it out the other end. My son gets a little frustrated at times but he still enjoys trying to master it. Make sure you clean up the beads after each time otherwise you will find beads EVERYWHERE. Another way to minimize the bead mess is to just put out a few beads at a time.
Other Simple Activities to Include Your Toddler in
My son loves nothing more than to do all of the chores he sees mommy do such as laundry, sweeping, wiping up messes, unloading the dishwasher, stirring food, pouring measured ingredients into a bowl, etc. so go ahead and include your little one in your chores. Now I know they end up usually making a mess while they’re “helping mommy” but that’s quite all right because they enjoy it and it teaches them to respect their space and home and to clean up after themselves.
How to Organize these DIY Montessori Activities
A key factor in ensuring that these Montessori activities keep your toddler focused is to set them up and organize each activity separately with their own space and necessary storage containers. This way your toddler won’t be distracted by other work pouring into that activities space. I always make sure we clean up each activity before starting a new one to make sure the items don’t end up all over the place and difficult to clean up later once it’s gotten out of hand.