A friend recently asked me if there were any good projects I could recommend for her active 13-month-old. With winter just around the corner, she was looking for a project which would be good for indoors.
Her daughter, a natural explorer, loves books, flipping pages, listening to music and just about anything she can get her hands on. I rounded up a few projects that are inexpensive (in many cases, free) and will keep her daughter entertained, while practicing her concentration skills which are so important at this age when they have an absorbent mind that can pick up just about anything quickly.
• Introduce clay, if you haven’t already. Your child can roll it, pound it with a tiny mallet. Add some cookie cutters, a rolling pin and sticks.
• Children this age love to sort. Give your child two or three tiny buckets or cups and give them some pom-poms to sort.
• Set up a water table. Put out a small plastic tub (shoe box size is perfect) and fill it with a small amount of water. Add some child-size plastic cups, or pitchers, and just let your child* pour to their heart's content.
• Cubes on a Vertical Dowel, $8.95, will keep their attention for long spans of time.
• Just like the vertical dowel, the Colored Discs on 3 Colored Dowels, $9.95, is also a winner.
• One of my favorite Montessori items for toddlers is the object permanence box. If you don’t want to buy one, you can easily make something similar using a small cardboard box and a hacky sack or knitted ball.
• Some colorful, inexpensive gauzy scarves can be put in an old tissue box. Your child can push them in and then pull them back out. We found a pack of 12 for $19.99, but hit your local thrift store and you're sure to find plenty at a bargain.
• And when it doubt, simple wooden blocks are always a favorite!
With all of theses activities, it's important for you to show your child how to do them first. You're presenting the materials. Model the behavior and action, slowly for them, and they’ll get it. Then, just let them have fun and enjoy their new discoveries!
*Don't worry about letting them get wet. They'll love it and you can always make them a nifty apron from a repurposed kitchen towel.