Here are some of my favorite Montessori toys/activities and how I use them.
Chunky puzzles – wooden shapes with large knobs for handles that make it easy for baby hands to grasp. Repeat the movement to teach baby to do it.
Blocks – wooden blocks in bold colors. Stack blocks for baby and then give baby a turn to participate. Sort blocks by color and say the color aloud. Give baby a turn. Drop blocks into a container or basket. Give baby a turn. As baby ages, place a shape sorter on top of the container. Sort blocks through a paper towel tube. Naturally, they tend to dump everything out too so let them play!
Stacking cups – Stacking cups can be used in many ways like building a tower or pouring water in the bathtub. You can also use them outdoors to pour water in a controlled setting, in a pool, in a sandbox.
Shovel, Pail, Watering Can – These items can be used indoors to tote around, sort toys into, bathtub time, or outdoors.
Balls – All appropriate sizes. Play sorting games into large bins, practice rolling the balls, tossing games, play chase, indoors and outdoors.
Water – Pour and splash, along with baby.
Stair practice – Naturally, age appropriate and adult supervised for climbing upstairs and descending.
Musical items – Use wooden musical toys or create your own homemade instruments. (Shakers, jingle bells) Use rice, beans, bells, rocks, etc in sealed old bottles. I put all musical items out of babies reach for extra safety when not in use.
Outdoors – Allow for daily outdoor activity, especially in nature, with large expanses. Take a blanket and place toys on it as a ‘base camp’. Do above activities or explore. Take a hike. Practice watering plants, flower gardens, or vegetable gardens from a watering can. Dig in a sandbox. Pick flowers. Chase butterflies. Plant seeds in a small planter and watch them grow. Fill a bird feeder. Give baby a spoon to scoop seeds to fill the feeder. Small rakes, shovels, pails, large dry paint brushes, and brooms are good for digging, sweeping, and collecting rocks leaves, sand, snow, etc.
Books – Find a book with real baby faces in it (not cartoons or drawings), expressing different emotions. Read with baby.
Toys or safe drawers that open and close for baby to explore. You can empty a bottom dresser drawer.
A box of colorful scarfs to play with.
Sandbox fun for pouring and digging.
Knock Knock – open and close a door with baby. You can sit on opposite sides of the closed door to play, or place a mirror on one side and open the door together to discover each other. You can also do this with a large empty box, because we know how much babies sometimes love the box more than the toy inside!
Stuffed Friend Circle – Place baby on floor in 12 o’clock position and complete the circle with stuffed animals/toys. Watch the smiles, grab a camera!
Play classical music.
The key to this is to aim to take out only the toy/activity you are playing with and have baby help put items away. Sing as you put the toys away “Clean up, clean up, everybody does their share”. Repeat.
As your baby develops, you will be able to help them graduate to the next advanced activity.