Parents should not feel the need to spend an exorbitant amount of money or set up elaborate, picture-perfect Montessori activities for 1-year-olds.
There is no need.
Especially when you consider that Maria Montessori did not actually design any toys along with her educational materials, nor did she design her educational method for well-off families.
The key to choosing Montessori activities for 1-year-olds is to keep it simple and follow your child’s development and interests.
Kids this age are learning to manipulate objects, stand, walk, and talk.
So the 10 toys and activities for 12-month-olds that we’ve selected below are a mix of toys and practical, homemade activities that help develop hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and communication skills.
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The 10 best Montessori activities for 1-year-olds
#1 Household Exploration
Follow a toddler’s natural inclination to explore by making your home a safe and accessible environment.
Leave Tupperware, blocks, kitchen utensils, boxes, or any other unused items in drawers and cabinets within your child’s reach.
Montessori activities for 1-year-olds that are not yet walking, or are new to walking, can be set up in a “yes space“-type area.
Many parents go ahead and set up a Montessori-inspired playroom at this age, as well.
This allows toddlers to satisfy their curiosity as they safely make sense of their surroundings.
#2 Pull Up Bar
A Montessori pull-up bar helps children learn to pull up, stand, and cruise on their own.
For added benefit, place a mirror behind the bar. This will give little ones extra motivation and allow them to explore and later identify their facial expressions (which will help them develop emotional intelligence as they grow).
#3 Toddler Library
Leave out well-loved board and cloth books that have already been read multiple times in a basket, shelf, or easy-to-reach area.
Toddlers will be able to independently flip the pages, which helps with fine motor skills, before learning to “read” to themselves.
They can analyze pictures, which helps with reading comprehension skills as they get older.
Developmentally appropriate puzzles for one-year-olds should have no more than a few pieces.
#5 Sensory Play
Break out items with different textures, sizes, and sounds—it’s a fantastic (and easy to put together) Montessori activity for 12-month-olds.
Montessori activities can be set up using these items and more.
Parents and caregivers often choose to set up sensory bins for their children to help contain any spills.
#6 Stacking Toys
Kids can stack, unstack, knock down, and line up these beautiful Montessori-aligned stacking toys for one-year-olds.
They help with color recognition, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.
#7 Household Chores
At 12-months-old, a child is old enough to observe their surroundings and want to do what their caregiver or older siblings are up to.
In Montessori, these tasks are called Practical Life works.
That can be anything from sweeping, dusting, carrying their plate to the table, washing dishes, or helping to prepare food.
While it may result in more mess, it gives children an introduction to practical real-world skills, while giving them a sense of responsibility and self-worth.
This piece of furniture allows toddlers to participate in cooking and cleaning to a greater extent – and with a higher degree of safety than with a chair or stool.
#8 Object Permanence Box
An object permanence box teaches toddlers that an item can disappear and return.
Using repetition (the ball goes in the hole and out of the house, repeat), it boosts hand-eye coordination (getting the ball in the hole), plus fine and gross motor skills.
This is also a great schematic play activity. For 1-year olds who are interested in more fine motor activities, a coin drop box is also a great option.
#9 Household Musical Instruments
Use spoons, sticks, boxes, or pans to make homemade instruments that will allow them to compose their own lovely melodies.
#10 Indoor Climbing Toys
Finally, no Montessori list is complete without mention of indoor climbing toys like the infamous Pikler triangle.
Early climbing skills help children develop gross motor skills, coordination, and improve balance.
For caregivers who would rather opt for a Pikler alternative, you can create an indoor obstacle course using couch cushions, pillows, and blankets.
There Is No “Right” Montessori Activity for 1-Year Olds
Instead, focus on Montessori-inspired activities that involve open-ended toys that kids can experiment with independently and involve your budding toddler in household activities.
Using this list of household activities and Montessori activities for 1-year olds, toddlers can learn invaluable life skills that lay the foundation for childhood and beyond.
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