Inside: Are you looking for ways to creatively play with your child? Read on to find 12 engaging Montessori activities for 18-month-olds!
Disclaimer: All of these thoughts are my own. However, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission if you purchase from one of the links below.
One of the best parts of my childhood was how much independence my mom gave me. From making my own dinner to cleaning my own room, she was far from the type of mom who coddles you and does everything for you.
Honestly, at the time, I thought it was annoying. I was jealous of other moms who swept up every crumb after their child.
However, since getting older, I now realize how much her parenting style instilled confidence in me.
And that’s why I’m introducing Montessori principles early into Asher’s development.
From creating a Montessori nursery to practicing life skills, our family tries to incorporate Montessori principles into our routine as much as possible. I’m always on the lookout for Montessori activities for 18-month-olds.
Is 18 months too early for Montessori?
There’s no wrong or right time to enroll your child in Montessori school. It’s a matter of what works best for your family and if you think that your child is ready for it. It certainly won’t be a disadvantage to enroll your 18-month-old in Montessori school.
For us, our local Montessori schools don’t accept kids younger than two. We’ve submitted an application to enroll Asher next fall in a Montessori School near us. Fingers crossed, we get in!
If you’re introducing Montessori at home, you can start from the day that they’re born! Children grow quickly, and because of that, they’re in-and-out of new developments at an extremely fast pace. It’s never too early to introduce Montessori education into your child’s development.
Got a picky eater on your hands? Be sure to check out the amazing guest post from registered dieticians, Nourished Routes, for What to Feed Your Picky Eater (+ FREE PDF!)
For Asher, we started purchasing Lovevery bundles every other month and we’d use mostly those for his toys (to compensate for the loud, plastic ones given to us from family – sorry mom & dad!). Asher started eating at his own table around 8-months-old, and then we got him a Montessori floor bed around 1 year.
What activities can I do with my 18-month-old?
There’s honestly so much that you can do with your 18-month-old! Since I’m disabled, I don’t have the luxury of throwing Asher in the back of my car and heading off to our local recreation center.
Because of that, I have to find unique and engaging ways to play with him around the house. My best advice is to focus less on purchasing toys and more on providing ways for sensory play.
For example, have you noticed that your child plays with a new toy for all of two minutes before moving on to something else? Maybe you’ve noticed that your child is more interested in the box that the toy came in than the toy itself?
The materials in this Monti Kids Level 6 Montessori Box encourage problem solving and tactile experimentation as your child learns to imagine and execute plans!
Because most of the toys available on the market are made for distraction instead of engagement, oftentimes, toys come with loud sounds and bright flashing lights. However, this only holds your little one’s attention for a little while. To help with that, you want to focus on ways to engage their creativity and promote learning.
What should I be teaching my 18-month-old?
Around 18 months, your child will start wanting to do things independently. This is an instrumental time in their development as they begin exhibiting some challenging behaviors such as temper tantrums. For this reason, it’s good to focus on ways to help them be more self-sufficient (which is foundational to Montessori).
When wondering what to teach your 18-month-old, try focusing on their specific areas of development. For example, 18-month-olds are developing in the following areas:
- Displaying emotional outbursts
- Developing social skills
- Communicating verbally
- Cognitive learning
- Gross motor skills
Your goal is to participate in activities with your child that will help strengthen these skills above. Just remember to follow your child’s lead. You are there to encourage and offer support, but leave the exploring up to them!
Now, let’s move into the Montessori activities for 18-month-olds!!
1. Practice Climbing
Motor skill development is by far the most noticeable change I’ve seen in my 18-month old son. He wants to climb on anything and everything. For this reason, we got him the Lilly & River climbing triangle. It’s a great way to help promote balance and coordination!
We got him the climbing triangle for his first birthday. At that point, he just kind of sat on it every day for a little while. But, over time, he’s grown to love it. He also loves repetition. He continuously practices “jumping off” the first rung. Now that he’s gotten the hang of the first rung, he’s moved on to the second rung.
Honestly, the best part is how proud of himself he is after each jump. It’s the cutest thing to watch him clap for himself and look over at me to make sure I was watching. We can sit for such a long time and watch him jump over and over.
Around 18 months, your child will likely show an elevated interest in reading. While it’s previously seemed like you were the only one listening to the words coming out of your mouth, your toddler will now enjoy following along and may even have a favorite book.
We got him this Montessori bookshelf so that we could display books at his level. It’s important to put toys and books so that they can easily access them without needing to ask you for help! If you keep books around the house and read to them often, then they’ll nurture a love for reading.
3. Practice Stomping
You can help your little one develop gross motor skills and coordination by creating a stomping game! This is a super fun and easy activity. All you have to do is put down a little tape and – whoilah – you have a perfect Montessori activity for an 18-month-old!
First, make sure that you’re using a tape that won’t hurt your hardwood floors like this one. You may want to try it out on a small piece of your floor in an area of the house that no one can see before going full fledge in your living room.
Then, lay out strips of tape about a foot apart and have your child jump from one piece of tape to the next. You can also try laying out different shapes to help them learn geometry or have them practice stomping a certain area of the tape. This activity will produce so many giggles and release lots of energy!
4. Play with blocks
Playing with blocks is great for building spatial, language, and problem-solving skills. The blocks that Asher is using in the photo were a Christmas gift. They’re from Geomag and they’re magnetic, which he loves. He is fascinated by magnets!
If you want a natural material, then the LOVEVERY block set is another great option. It features 70 quality pieces that work with each other in more than 20 stage-based activities that can grow with your child throughout the years. Blocks provide endless opportunities as your child can experiment with concepts like cause and effect, force, magnetism, velocity, and gravity or simply act out stories, and create a world of wonder through open-ended play.
5. Practice Cutting Foods
Food preparation activities help build executive function and self-confidence.
Not too long ago, I saw a video on Tik-Tok where a mom had taught her 18-month-old how to use a functional kitchen. I was stunned while watching him get fruit out of the refrigerator and wash it using a colander. He was able to do almost everything himself, so this inspired me to get a working kitchen for Asher!
We’re still getting it set up with a working faucet, but, in the meantime, we’ve been learning how to cut fruits and veggies. I started with something easy like cutting honeydew. I bought this starter knife set from Amazon. However, you can always start with wooden fruit and knives like these from Melissa and Doug.
Another great option that will last longer into development, is investing in the Monti Kids Montessori Cooking Together Kit!
It features a complete set of food-safe, developmentally appropriate kitchen tools that will help your child build a positive relationship with food. It even comes with recipe cards that can help parents and children create child-friendly meals together. The Monti Kids website also features printed parent guides, articles and videos that empower you to support your child in the kitchen while enjoying time together.
6. Practice sorting
Categorization is a major milestone in toddler development. By preschool age (and often earlier), children can categorize based on shape, color, texture, number, gender, facial features, speech, musical tones, movement patterns, and more [R].
There are so many Montessori activities that you can do with your 18-month-old to help promote categorization, such as sorting the laundry basket or putting toys in their respective bins. I bought a package of these pom poms from Amazon and had Asher practice sorting the balls based on colors. In the photo above, he’s sorting these buttons.
I started finger painting with Asher when he was around 8-months-old. I didn’t trust any store-bought finger paint, so I made my own and using this recipe from Pinterest.
Now that he’s older and doesn’t put everything in his mouth, I’ve started using this finger paint. I bought this drop cloth and we sit on top of it and practice painting letters either directly on the drop cloth or with this finger paint paper (FYI – regular printer paper won’t work). It gets really messy! So, make sure that you’re ready to give them a bath after you’re done. Honestly, it isn’t his favorite activity, but it’s one of mine!
Puzzles are a great way for 18-month-olds to develop hand-eye coordination and visual perception skills. We have several different types of wooden puzzles at home, but my favorite is this puzzle set from the Babbler Play kit.
I like the LOVEEVERY puzzle set because it teaches kids about physical expression. Under each puzzle piece is a toddler’s face with a different expression for how they feel. I like that Asher can learn a variety of shapes and colors, as well as emotions!
9. Create Sensory bins
Another great and incredibly easy Montessori activity is creating sensory bins. This helps your child feel textures and observe shapes. They can learn things like cause and effect and object permanence, as well as develop fine motor skills.
Some easy ideas for sensory bins are:
- Ice cubes
- Dry pasta, beans and rice
- Pom poms
- Leaves, flowers and herbs
Really, the opportunities are endless!
You can help your 18-month-old develop fine motor skills and creativity through things like coloring! We started out using these Crayola stage 1 crayons. I think they lasted for all of two weeks before Asher lost them. Honestly, they weren’t that great, since Asher didn’t have enough strength to press down on the paper.
After that, I got him these crayons made out of beeswax. Again, I probably wouldn’t waste my money on these. It’s difficult for a toddler to press hard enough down on the paper to really see a result. Also, they’re just a really expensive toy to lose so easily.
Now, we just use regular crayons on recycled Amazon packages. My advice is to wait until your child is old enough to actually understand how to use the crayon (starting around 15-months), otherwise, you’re just going to keep wasting your money.
11. Introduce Gardening
Asher loves doing anything he sees his mama doing and that includes playing with the watering can! I let him follow me around and practice watering the plants. He’s not quite got the hang of it yet, but he’s close! Our babysitter helped him plant a few seeds in a plastic cup and put them on our windowsill. They’ve started to sprout, and it’s a daily reminder of how fast Asher’s growing!
Moreover, I generally think it’s important to introduce kids to Nature. While he can’t exactly help me plant herbs, he enjoys digging around and the soil and playing with rocks. Next year, I plan on starting a herb garden vegetable garden with Asher! For more tips on how to garden with a toddler, check out this awesome post from Annie at Montana Homesteader!
12. Play in a Sandbox
Isn’t it interesting how you want your child to have everything you didn’t have as a kid? Well, mine was definitely a Sandbox. My next-door neighbor had a sandbox and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. A Sandbox is one of the first things that I got Asher as soon as he got old enough for me to trust that he wouldn’t eat the sand.
One of the best Montessori activities for 18-month-olds is playing in the sandbox! I didn’t buy Asher any accessories, because I figured that measuring spoons and sifters could work just as well! We got this one for $40 from Target and then bought two bags of sand to go in it.
One more thing, beware that you’ll need to make sure the lid is on it when not in use. Cats around your neighborhood may want to use it as a litter box! Also, the sand is going to get really messy. We bought this blower to clean off the porch weekly.
final thoughts on MONTESSORI ACTIVITIES FOR 18-MONTH-OLDS (THAT ARE EASY)
I hope these Montessori activities for 18-Month-Olds helped you think of fun ideas to do with your children! This is such a fun age to have a child, as they just want to explore anything and everything.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Montessori parenting method and want to read some Montessori books for parents, check out this great selection of Books by Montessorians!
What Montessori activities for 18-Month-Olds did I miss? Tell me in the comments below!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.