Montessori materials can be 💰costly, so I love finding an alternative or creating DIY extensions. Below I will show you some of the DIYs I have created to substitute some of the materials you would generally have to purchase. I will also be sharing some “hacks” with you ~ that is using Familiar Materials you have around the home: be it a sieve or a whisk, buttons, pom poms or grains from your cupboard. However, you will be using these materials in a non-intended way ~ meaning that you will NOT be cooking and eating your pasta, and you will NOT be whisking your ☕️milk either! Buttons will NOT be sewn on a 👕T-shirt and you will NOT be using your sieve to drain your cooked🍝pasta. So, scroll down and see!
TASTE SAFE Sensory TRAYS
🍫Breakfast Food 🚜Sensory Tray
Sensory trays need not be expensive or elaborate. Here, I am using a bamboo 4-compartment organizer tray (intended for the office or kitchen use) and I am filling it with breakfast foods: a larger compartment is filled with Irish oats, and the smaller ones with fruit loops, Chocolate Cheerios and whole wheat flakes. Offer your child favorite vehicles or tractors and let their imagination transform Chocolate Cheerios into mud, oats into sand and flakes into field while little hands practice pinching, transferring and pouring! If you have an older child, turn this activity into a math lesson: with smaller ones just count one to five; with older ones, do simple addition: a tractor brought two bails and you had one already ~ how many do you have now? We also took this opportunity and counted Cheerios, using them as counters (instead of Montessori beads) for the Montessori Teens Lesson.
❄️Winter 🌲Forest 🚂 Train Tracks🐿Sensory Bin
Sensory play is extremely important to children as it supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction. And this tray is very easy to set up with materials you already have at home! We wanted to create a winter scene, so as “snow” I am using Epsom salt (it is more coarse and is generally used for baths) and to make a frozen pond, I am using blue sugar crystals sprinkles. Adrian collected the train tracks (he had to figure out how many would make a circle) and he chose battery operated Action train to run on them. He also collected forest animals and some pond inhabitants we would meet during our nature walks. We discussed what animals hibernate in the winter, how some adapt and which ones migrate. Actually, Canadian geese migrate to North America, so that is why you see a duck and a goose on a frozen lake. As your child learns through play, s/he triggers multiple neurons when tactile, visual and language stimuli are sparked off!
• ❄️Winter Wonderland 💎Crystals SENSORY Bin•
It is small world play time and here, I am reusing taste safe filler I used for the train set up above, but this time adding a child-sized mini colander and a stainless steel flour sifter. (Since baking bread is not on a menu, at least Adrian can practice sieving salt, separating it from blue crystals.) A tip: use what you have: e.g. white sugar, baking soda, flour … I am using a large round metal tray (buy 16″ here or buy white here) filled with coarse salt (to resemble snow) and blue sugar crystals cake sprinkles. I also punched out a few snowflakes out of foam glitter paper for some extra sparkle. Offer your child spoons, scoops, jugs, transferring cups, along with a colander and a sifter to mine those 💎 gems! Please, always supervise your child while they are exploring through play. Despite the fact that the materials are taste safe, they are no edible. Although, scooping, transferring and sieving is suggested for children 2-4 +years old who have developed fine motor skill efficiency, your baby will enjoy the texture of salt and sugar while triggering multiple sensory stimuli despite being unable to sieve the gems. Exposing children early on to sensory play in any age appropriate, child driven environment is the key to building confidence, knowledge, and mastery.
Emotions Puppets ♻️🚽DIY
I am sure you know that a recycled toilet paper roll (TPR) is not just for what you think you might use it for! Well, here, we made DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets to discuss how the child might feel and to reassure that all emotions are natural and need not be ashamed of. (See here a video of Adrian making Emotions (Body) • Feelings (Mind) ✂️DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets ♻️🚽Craft 🎥 101).
I also made this EMOTIONS puzzle where a child has to match the two parts of the face. Make sure you color-code on the back of each piece by placing the same-color sticker on each of the two halves that make the whole. (For example, the 😡angry face, will have two 🔴🔴red stickers on the back of each half ~ this way, the child can self-correct.)
Here is a little modifiation~ I hot-glued the EMOTIONS face puzzle to cut in half toilet paper roll (TPR) and color-coded on the back with stickers. For example, the excited face will have two green dot stickers (one on each half) and I also added the written emotional state “excited” to promote reading. For the presentation, I am using a bamboo dish rack and since the pegs are short, I “elongated” them by placing a cut recycled paper wrapping roll over. Present to your child all the puzzle pieces mixed up and offer to match the top of the face to the bottom and also to match the written emotion -word if your child is reading. (With smaller ones, start with just three emotions at a time). As a control of error, all TPR puzzle pieces are matched color coded on the back.
“All About Me” ~ have you asked your children how do they see themselves? Are they aware of what color are their eyes, hair? Would they draw their mouth as smiling or serious? There is so much a child can learn just by taking a moment to center within and self-reflect. So offer them a mirror, googly eyes, pom poms, pipe cleaners, Sharpies etc., and recycled TPRs the great to make puppets. Julia used a hole-puncher to be able to thread yarn-hair. And these “Me” puppets can be a great keepsake as children grow so fast and their perspective of themselves would change too!
Montessori Sensory ✍🏻️TRACING TRAYS & BOARDS
Sensory Tactile Board/Puzzle
To make this sensory board, I simply traced a larger circle and a smaller one (which is a ♻️bottle cap) inside. Apply glue to the “donut” shape within (leave the middle circle empty) and sprinkle whatever you might find in your cupboard or nature shelf. I am using millet, rainbow rice, pebbles from the beach and scented salt. Offer a child to match to bottle cap to its larger circle. To increase the level of difficulty, use a 🙈blindfold to isolate just the stereognostic sense of touch. Also, introduce language and discuss smooth, rough, roughest. (Buy traditional Montessori Rough & Smooth boards here.)
🔢Brown Sugar Sensory ✍🏻️Tracing Tray
Montessori tracing trays are very easy to set up at home. This one is made from brown sugar, which adds a nice texture and is taste safe. I lined a small wooden tray with a red glitter paper to add an activity a color pop and offered Adrian Montessori cards and counters (buy less expensive here) to practice number formation, as well as the concept of odd and even. Montessori Odd and Even math lesson concretely and visually teaches a child what odd and even numbers are. By placing counters in pairs, it’s very easy to see which number is missing a pair ~ an odd number. If you don’t have wooden numbers, use any numbers you have at home (or write them on paper) and gather 55 counters (you can use marbles, wooden dots, pom poms, etc.) See details about Odd and Even Numbers presentation here.
Snow ❄️ Sensory ✍🏻️Tracing Tray
I am using a coarse salt to create a winter wonderland snowy tray to encourage tracing and sensory play! We are referencing Montessori Lower case cursive sandpaper letters. Smaller children can simply enjoy the texture of coarse salt while sensorially learning through play, while older can trace letters, numbers, shapes, pictures … possibilities are endless! Holding a pine branch can resemble holding a pencil, thus promoting proper pincer grip, however, the tracing shows very thin so Adrian prefers to use this hands instead!
🎅🏻Flour ✍🏻️Tracing Tray
Montessori tracing tray consists of a medium which the child can practice tracing in. We are also using a Montessori movable alphabet to practice spelling “santa” since it is the most requested word at the moment. You can easily make this “touch and trace” sensory writing tray with materials readily available in your home. You will need:
- a large tray where you would pour the filler in (we are actually using a top from the floor table or you can use a tray),
- a filler such as flour (what Adrian is using); you can also use sand, polenta, amaranth, salt, or sugar,
- a small rake or a fork to smooth out the filler (we are using a rake from this Zen Garden),
- colored cardstock (I used red here) to give the activity a color-pop (buy here).
Also, see here 🌎Geography 📖Theory Curriculum Lesson 3: 🗺Mapping ~ Cartographer(Making the Earth 🎈Flat).
🍭Festive Sensory ✍🏻️Tracing tray
Montessori sensorial tracing trays are a fun way to practice writing and spelling. You can start with really small children first just exploring the medium (e.g. flour, millet, sand, rice, etc). At around two years of age, you can start tracing letters and numbers (one at a time) and with older children, offer simple words to spell and trace. Here, I am using red and white rice. (To make your DIY colored rice, simply add few squirts of vinegar to a ziplock with dried rice and a desired food coloring ~ shake well and lay flat to dry.) Today, in light of the Holiday spirit, we discussed what Christmas stands for and the concept of giving. For some reason, Adrian confuses giving versus sharing. (He thinks giving is forfeiting the possession of something versus sharing is like letting your friend play with your car-toy.) So we talked about those children in need and lonely this Holiday Season and what we can do to experience the joy of giving! See more here~ 🎄Christmas Inspired Unit Study.
Learning shapes hands-on adds a fun dimension to geometry. Simply draw shapes on a paper and offer your child to “trace” its outline with grain, pasta, nature finds or anything else small you have handy. With a circle and a square, I offered Adrian dot stickers and we discussed what is a pattern ~ when a segment repeats over and over. Smaller children can try to follow a simple two-color pattern: like red-blue-red-blue, while older might try to follow a lengthier pattern. Here, Adrian chose a six-color pattern for a circle that he had to follow. Thereafter, offer pom poms to place over the dot-stickers, matching the colors. Offer tongs to further stimulate those fine motor skills. Lastly, discuss each shape’s unique characteristics and present a Three-Part Lesson: 1) “This is __” 2) “Where is __?” 3) “What is this?”
🍴 CUTLERY TRAY HACKS
We are also using the same 🍴cutlery tray which has the same amount of compartments as continents in the world, to color sort pom poms! In Montessori Geography, each continent is color-coded: North America is orange, South America is pink, Europe ~ red, Africa~ green, Asia ~ yellow, Australisa~ brown, and Antarctica is white. So we filled each compartment with corresponding color pom poms. This is an awesome fine motor color recognition Geography activity that can be modified for ages 2yo +. Buy mini tongs here and spork tongs here. See here how we filled this tray with dinos residing on each continent ~ Dinosaur Themed Unit Study.
Small Worlds • Animals of the 🌎🌍🌏Continents
In a Montessori geography curriculum, each continent is consistently color-coded throughout the entire curriculum: North America is orange, South America is pink, Africa is always green, Europe is red, Asia yellow, Australia brown, and Antarctica is white. Here, we have re-created the continents using colored pom poms and the 🍴 cutlery tray. We also took this opportunity to sing Montessori Continent song ~ see a video here, in a post that includes the above 📽video of Adrian singing 🎤 the Continent Song using a Montessori Colored 🌈 Continent 🌎Globe at 29 months.
We then discussed the unique and exclusive animals of each continent.
- North America ~ Black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location.
- South America ~ Jaguar is the largest feline and third big cat in the world after lions and tigers. The Jaguar is also the largest cat in the Americas, an ambush predator and a keystone species of Americas, with the strongest bite of any big cat: twice as strong as that of a Lion.
- Europe ~ Reindeer, in North America called caribou, are species of deer (family Cervidae) found in the Arctic tundra and adjacent boreal forests of Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, and Canada. Reindeer have been domesticated in Europe.
- Asia ~ Tigers are only found in Asia and they have never seen a lion! The Siberian tiger is the largest big cat in the world and can grow up to three meters long from its nose to the tip of its tail. The tiger’s stripes are as varied and unique as fingerprints. Even the skin underneath is striped. At first glance, the striking pattern hardly seems to be beneficial. After all, the tiger does not want to be discovered by its prey immediately. When the tiger goes hunting in the twilight, it is however perfectly camouflaged with the stripes. They appear as tall grass moving in the wind or like fleeting shadows. Unlike many other ‘cats’ and big cats the tiger swims well and likes it, too. Therefore, the water is not a safe place for many prey animals.
- Africa ~ Lions reside only in Africa and are not found on any other continent. After birth, Lion babies have a sand-colored fur coat with dark, circular spots. They are well camouflaged in the savannah. Within the first four to six weeks, they remain in a den. At the age of three months, they are strong enough to follow their mother wherever she goes.
- Australia ~ Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia. The word “kangaroo” comes from the language of the aborigines, Australia’s indigenous people. It basically means “I don’t understand”, which was the answer given to British Navigator James cook when he asked what the animal was. What a misunderstanding! these marsupials have a kind of rubber band in their hind legs. It propels them upwards with each jump. The faster a kangaroo bounces, the farther the animal is “catapulted” forwards, and the less energy it consumes.
- Antarctica ~ Penguins, the only species that can survive a harsh Antarctic winter, have never seen a polar bear, that is each species resides on the opposite poles, polar bear, a native to the Arctic circle. Penguins are flightless birds with streamlined bodies and thick coats, making them perfectly suited for life on the ice. The emperor penguin grows to a height of up to 1.25 m and can weigh as much as 45 kg. They are excellent, fast swimmers. Emperor penguins can reach speeds of up to 30 km/h and dive down to 400 m, reaching astonishing diving depths. On land, penguins waddle or slide on their bellies, propelling themselves along with their feet or flippers. The penguin’s favorite dish is fish or squid but they need to look out for orcas to make sure they don’t get eaten themselves.
Cutlery Tray Hack • Habitats Small World Play
I am using a bamboo cutlery organizer for this small world invitation to play. This wooden drawer divider has seven compartments (plus another two if expanded). I have created different biomes and habitats to discuss various animals and where they live.
- 🌳”Forest” is made from green rice (add vinegar and food coloring to dry rice, shake well, and then lay flat to dry) and forest animals.
- ❄️For “Polar Regions” which include both poles: Antarctica and the Arctics, I simply used dry white rice. A note: although a penguin had never seen a polar bear, they both reside in cold icy conditions, although on different hemispheres.
- 🌊For our “Ocean” habitat, I used blue water beads! To store your hydrogels, simply add few drops of tea tree oil and store in a refrigerator ~ they can last for months if in an airtight container, or dry them and have them shrink to their original size. I also added small pebbles to resemble a beach (which we collected during our last trip to the ocean).
- 🌽To make a “Farm” I used shredded packing paper and dried corn kernels mixed with other dried beans.
- 🏜Millet represents the “Desert” habitat with a Kangaroo and a Komodo Dragon. (You can also use yellow cornmeal which is a little finer.) Currently, Komodo dragons are found only on a handful of islands in Indonesia, including the island of Komodo which gives them their name. So, you might ponder, why is this Asian lizard dragon stands alongside a kangaroo, an Australian native? Well, scientists now find that the world’s largest living lizard species, the Komodo dragon, most likely evolved in Australia and dispersed westward to its current home in Indonesia, rather than developed from a smaller ancestor isolated on the Indonesian islands, evolving its large size as a response to lack of competition from other predators. Over the past three years, an international team of scientists unearthed numerous fossils from eastern Australia dated from 300,000 years ago to roughly 4 million years ago that they now know to belong to the Komodo dragon. (Read more here.)
- 🌧”Rain Forest” environment is made from the evergreen leaves that grow in our backyard and sticks to resemble bamboo for our pandas.
- Lastly, “Savanna” is made from green lentils and African animals.
Please note, possibilities in creating small world play are endless! Open your cupboard and use what’s in it: oats, cereal, grains, beans, pasta! Let your imagination go wild! This sensory bin can be played for days! The only thing that will happen over time is hydrogels getting smaller, eventually shrinking to their original size. Otherwise, your little one will have hours of purposeful real-life simulated imaginary play! A last note: most Montessori activities are presented on a tray and are done generally on a mat. With sensory bins especially, you would want to contain any spills or “mess” so I strongly encourage to present this tray on a large mat or a blanket. This way you can just shake it off, minimizing the cleaning up part.
♻️DIY 🍳Egg Carton Color Sorting
Grab your recycled egg carton and dot stickers and offer your little one to sort wool balls👆🏻or buttons, pom poms or anything else colorful you have handy! Smaller children can use their hands while developing dexterity and older ones can exercise fine motor skills by using tongs! Please supervise smaller children as smaller objects can be a choking hazard.
IKEA TOLSBY 🖼Frame 🍁 Posting DIY
This Ikea hack is super easy to set up: all you need is a frame and tape. Remove both plastic inserts and tape them to the outside of the frame. I taped just the two vertical sides to make the removal of posting objects easier. Offer your child posting materials such as coins, poker chips, anything thin (we are using wooden maples leaves), and even popsicle sticks.
This activity is very versatile: smaller ones can enjoy simply posting and working on those fine motor skills wiggling chips/leaves into a thin slot. You can also ask your child to count as they are inserting, working on quantity to a numeral association. We also played an Estimation Game: when after inserting x amount of leaves, each family member had to take a guess/estimate (without counting) how many leaves are there. Each estimation is written on a piece of paper and once everyone had a turn, the leaves are removed and counted. The winner is who’s estimation was the closest to the actual number.
Pipe Cleaner Colander Threading DIY
This fun threading with pipe cleaners activity is very easy to set up and is tonnes of fun! (Buy in bulk 800 pc pipe cleaners with pom poms here). This activity will also encourage hand-eye coordination, which is a pre-requisite to hand-writing, and will foster creativity. All you need is a kitchen colander and pipe cleaners. Invert your colander and offer your child to insert pipe cleaners one by one into the colander’s holes. This activity also has creativity at its core as your child can thread whichever way s/he wishes. A younger child might find it easier to just simply thread one pipe cleaner through just one hole. I would suggest not to be prescriptive and let your child explore. Show your child how to thread and then simply observe.
SKILLS: problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, control of movement, pincer grasp, fine motor skills and dexterity~ all in one! Little hands need to develop dexterity and strength and this activity exercises fine motor skills which are essential in the completion of many important tasks such as writing, feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering, and more. Pipe Cleaner Colander Threading practices all of these as well as hand-eye coordination, color identification, requiring focus, concentration, and developing fine motor precision as little hands would need to wiggle and insert the pipe cleaners into tiny holes! [Ages: 1 yo +. Always supervise and guide your child, although this activity does not pose a choking hazard.]
Variation: turn the colander from its inverted position and offer a child to thread the pipe cleaners diagonally across the colander through two holes.
Variation: take this opportunity to develop the oral language using color words and positional words ( over, under, through, between, up, down, in, out).
🍁Autumn Inspired Counting
We are enjoying the Fall season and all the beauty that it brings. So, today, I put our waxed leaves to use by creating this simple teens and tens DIY. We are also using Montessori golden beads, but you can use any counters you have handy: chickpeas, beans, marbles, poker chips etc. And, I cut paint samples from a local hardware store in strips and wrote the equations on them with a Sharpie. For solving the equation, I generally would use numbers from a hundred board, but today, I made numerals from wooden slices, primed with clear nail polish, before writing numbers with a Sharpie. Show a child an equation and offer to find corresponding golden beads before solving it. For details on how I waxed the leaves, see here 🍂Fall & 🎃Halloween Inspired Kids Activities.
Pom Poms WHISK DIY
Pom-poms are an amazing sensorial manipulator and bright colors are perfect for color identification. This DIY will take you less than a few minutes to put together. So, find a whisk (I am sure we all have it somewhere) and stuff it with colorful pom-poms of various sizes. Alternatively, with older children,📈present on a tray a whisk and a basket of pom poms and offer your child to stuff the pom-poms inside the whisk. SKILLS: fine motor and problem-solving skills. Little hands need to develop dexterity and strength and this activity exercises fine motor skills which are essential in the completion of many important tasks such as writing, feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering, and more. Also, any activity that encourages your child to coordinate both hands simultaneously is great for the child’s development as well. Pom-Pom Whisk practices all of these as well as hand-eye coordination, color identification, and requires some focus and concentration. Also, pom-pom whisk is a great problem-solving challenge as the child has to figure out the order of stuffing pom poms in: the larger on top, and smaller ones on the bottom. Also, the removal process is even more fun! Adrian quickly figured out that by shaking or banding the whisk, the pom-poms would fall out on their own! [Ages: 6M +. Always supervise and guide your child while they explore since pom poms can be a choking hazard.]
Next time you receive a fragile package, do not be too haste to through away the packing peanuts as they make a perfect DIY threading activity!
Yes! Packing peanuts are not just for protecting your fragile cargo in transit! Put them to use, along with yarn, large-eye needle, and a basket to hold your peanuts.
Threading is an amazing fine motor exercise, which requires patience and precisions; and it is purposeful as you will have plenty of necklaces to wear!
🔐Lock & Key
🔐 Locks are not just for keeping things safe! This is an awesome fine motor activity presented on every Montessori Practical Life shelf. Those little fingers really have to work to get the right 🔑key into the little lock! Present this activity on a tray or in a basket and have mismatched 🔑keys on a ring and different locks 🔐 interlocked between each other in a ball. (Buy locks here and here.) Have more keys than locks to 📈increase the level of difficulty. Offer your child to solve the puzzle and exercise those problem-solving skills to find the right key for the right lock. As the key matches with the lock, the lock opens up and the child is able to separate that lock from the rest and place it aside on a mat. SKILLS: fine motor skills to fit the right key into the little lock, as the child will really need to work those little fingers to get the keys into individual little locks holes. Children are also developing patience as they attempt to problem solve the puzzle. Vary the activity depending on your child’s age. Most importantly, let it be learning through fun.
📉Variation: for smaller children, offer an identical number of keys to locks and present the keys loose so that the child, once opens the lock, can put that lock and a matching key aside, having fewer keys to work with.
📉Variation: Numeracy ~ label the matching lock and its key with an identical number.
📉Variation: Literacy ~place an upper case letter sticker on a lock and the same letter lowercase on its matching key.
How about an 🍁Autumn 🍂DIY ✂️puzzle! Simply laminate a picture (expired 📅calendars have high-quality pictures and are inexpensive) and ✂️cut according to your child’s level. With really small ones just cut in half, or in quarters. I suggest that the older child, the more pieces you can cut your picture into to increase the level of difficulty. See here ✂️ DIY 🍂Fall Inspired 🖼Puzzle
During our nature walks, we have collected some fallen autumn leaves. It was amazing to observe how the main vein (midrib) on most maple leaves remain green the longest, while other parts of the blade turn yellow and orange. (Take this opportunity to discuss parts of the leaf!) After collecting, we washed the leaves, dried them and then punch out maple cutouts. (If you don’t have foliage readily available, you can punch out a colored cardstock/paper.) I then presented Adrian a Tree template and offered a simple quantity to numeral association presentation. With smaller children (2 +yo), start with one template or up to three templates and place numbers one through three under each. Then offer your child to place a corresponding number of leaves on each tree. You can also ask to choose leaves of the same color for each number ~ enunciating the names of each color.
For older children (4 +yo), offer a simple addition and subtraction lesson. I am using wooden numerals from Montessori Hundred board and these wooden circles, which I primed with clear nail polish first and wrote the addition, subtraction and equation symbols with a black sharpie. Make up different equations and ask your child to solve them by placing the leaves on the trees (addition) or taking the leaves from the tree, and have them fall to the ground (subtraction). You can also emphasis addends, by differentiating them in color: for example six green leaves + two yellow leaves. Or in a subtraction equation, have the subtrahend (fallen leaves) be all one color while the difference (what is left on the tree) be a different color. [minuend − subtrahend = difference]. Most importantly, follow your child and end the lesson before the interest starts to wind down and before your child gets tired.
🍁🍂Leaves DIY Upper to Lower Case Puzzle
This is a very easy🍁🍂Fall inspired DIY Upper to lower case puzzle activity. First, collect some fallen leaves, clean and dry them and press under heavy books. Once pressed, arrange your leaves inside a laminating pouch (start placing leaves as close to the edge as possible and leave about an inch around each leaf for cutting around). Then, run the laminating pouch through the laminating machine. Once laminated, cut out each leaf, and write upper and lower case letter on each half of a single leaf. Lastly, cut each leaf in half. Offer your child to match the two parts of the same leaf. You can also present a Three-Period Lesson, starting with three letters ~ for example, A, B, and C assembled with both halves: Part 1: This is _ A, B, C; Part 2: Where is _A? B? C?; Part 3: What is this? For detailed instructions on Montessori Three -Period lesson, see here.
🐦Birds DIY Montessori Color Tables
See here 🐦Bird 🌈Matching Montessori Sensorial Color Tablets
🌈Rainbow🙈Hide & Seek 🔠ABC
Another 🌈colorful fun rainbow 🍚rice idea is to hide letters in 🍚rice and offer your child a 🙈blindfold to find each letter and sensorially feel the shape of the letter and try to figure out what letter it is. Such isolation of the tactile sense of touch is a basis of Montessori Sensorial work, where activities are aimed to isolate just one sense. (To make colorful rice, simply add few squirts of vinegar to dry rice in a ziplock, shake and let dry. You would have a separate ziplock for each color.) Once the child retrieves the letter and identifies it, offer to place it on the corresponding letter card.
Do you have any dry pasta that is passed its expiration date? So, why not put it to use by creating this colorful fine motor activity! Start by cooking the pasta according to the instructions. Once fully cooked, add the desirable food coloring in a separate ziplock and shake it for a few minutes until the color absorbs fully. Then offer your child to exercise scissor skills by cutting the pasta, which will stay soft for a while. And once the pasta dries, offer a wide eye-needle and make it a perfect threading activity!
See here ✂️Scissors • ❤️💛💙Primary Colors 🍝Pasta Cutting Activity
This is a super fun DIY to teach your child colors and math. Julia drew a rainbow using firm pastel color sticks on a pastel paper and then wrote numbers one through seven on each rainbow ray. Adrian then had to place the corresponding quantity and color of dot stickers on each ray. This math sensorial color matching activity will facilitate learning number recognition and sequencing, numeral to quantity association and color matching.
Montessori language approach is based very much on the tactile assimilation of material, just like when the child starts to trace sandpaper numbers and letters at around the age of two. This DIY is a very fun and colorful sensory tracing tray where your child can learn proper tracing directions hands-on. I lined up a try with a white paper and poured rainbow rice (don’t pour too much as you would want the white paper to show as color pop). Then offer your child to trace letters (we are using these alphabet letters and cards) or numbers. [To make colored rice: simply pour few squirts of vinegar to a dry rice in a ziplock and add the desired food coloring, shake and let dry.] We like to refer to Montessori: Letter Work for proper tracing directions.
Intro to Montessori 💚Green Series
Montessori Language curriculum follows “PBG Scheme” ~ that is a “Pink-Blue-Green” Series approach, where the child progresses very gradually as s/he is first introduced to three CVC letter words in 💗PINK Series, then blends (st, bl, pr…) in 💙 BLUE Series, and finally learning digraphs (sh, th, ch, oi…) in 💚 GREEN Series. This is a very easy DIY intro to digraphs such as -ea, -o..e, -or, -ue and so on. I used paint samples from a local hardware store, and these wooden circles, which I primed with clear nail polish first, to prevent Sharpie marker from bleeding ~ that is spreading through the wood. You can cut the paint samples and offer a child to put the words together or offer to letter-match using DIY pegs, which I also primed with clear nail polish and wrote blue vowels and red consonants.
“sh” Consonant Digraph ~ 💚Green Series
See here “sh” Consonant Digraph ~ Montessori Language 💚Green Series
DIY Washi Tape Shapes
This is a super fun DIY to teach your child shapes. All you need is washi tape and scissors. Trace different shapes on a piece of paper and offer your child to cover the outlines with washi tape. Count the sides and discuss each shape’s distinctive characteristics such as a triangle having three sides and three angles which need not be the same or a square which must have four identical sides and angles.
DIY Geoboard • 🔨MAKE 4+yo,🖐🏻PLAY 1.5+yo
Do you have small cutting boards which you can spear? (Smaller ones tend to be softer.) What about any wooden board? (We are using boards Adrian breaks during his Taekwondo classes). So, put those boards to use and make a DIY geoboard. All you need is a ruler, a pencil, a child-sized hammer (from this set), push pins and rubber bands. Children (👦🏼4 yo & 👧🏻8 yo) had so much fun 🔨 making these!
Our wooden board size is about 5 x 5 inches. Using a ruler, children marked where they would hammer the pins in ~ about an inch apart. Once the board was ready, I offered Adrian to make letters while referring to this wooden Alphabet set. Here, Adrian made “A” for 👦🏼Adrian with rubber bands. You can also make 2D shapes, or offer children to 🍃🌸Nature weave and so much more! This activity can be offered to children as young as 1.5 yo + and it’s great for developing fine motor control and improving 🖐🏻 finger dexterity and increasing hand strength! “Dexterity helps fingers and hands to coordinate for completing fine tasks like writing, sewing, and playing string instruments.” So put those little hands to use!
If you don’t have time to make a geoboard, buy one here.
See more about Tap & Tack set here ~ in a post “Educational Materials, 📚Books and Toys 🎥 Review.”
♻️Recycled 🔴 ➕🔵Dot Stickers ✂️DIY Making 🔟s
Do you have leftover sheets from dot stickers? Well, put them to use with this super easy DIY making 10s activity. Simply cut a rectangle of ten used-up stickers (it is two rows of five), peel of the back and adhere to a white paper. Now, offer your child to fill the ten-dot-rectangle with different combinations of two colors of stickers making ten. We are also using a traditional Montessori Addition Strip Board to reinforce the understanding of addends~ any of the numbers that are added together ~making a sum of ten. I also introduced the term “commutative” ~ meaning that the addends can “commute” ~ travel switching sides, and the sum, will not change. Please, emphasize that commutative property ~ in mathematics, a binary operation is commutative if changing the order of the operands does not change the result ~ applies to addition and not subtraction. We are also referring to 1 2 3 Count with Me (Trace-and-Flip Fun!), which an amazing book to teach your child proper number tracing!
See here a video of Adrian working with Montessori Addition Strip in action ~ in a post ➕Addition Strip Board (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson).
DIY Hungry 🐊Alligator <>
This is a quintessential “Hungry Alligator” math activity to teach a child Greater Than ~ Less Than. We are using Montessori Sandpaper Numbers, marbles, a laminated sheet with equations, and a Montessori Hundreds Board to reinforce number sequencing and recognition.
An alligator’s snout resembles the Greater ~ Less sign and since our alligator is VERY hungry, he would always want to eat the side that has more!
This activity is perfect for preschoolers as it is very concrete, allowing children to easily assess which number is greater than the other.
DIY Craft Sticks Shapes
Learning shapes with this invitation to create a shape from DIY magnetic craft sticks. This will take you less than five minutes to set up, or, why not offer your child to match the magnets and adhere them to craft sticks. We are using these jumbo wooden craft sticks and these flexible magnets 3/4″ round disc with adhesive backings. As a reference, we are using geometry Montessori Metal Insets (buy original here or plastic here or metal but without stands here). As an extension, offer your child to match the color of each shape to tablets from Montessori Color Tablets Box.
🍡Craft Sticks 🐞Counting DIY
How about this super easy craft sticks DIY to promote fine motor control, color recognition, and 2️⃣numeral to 🐞🐞quantity association. We did it in a ladybug theme, but you can skip the embellishment part and just have simple colored pegs matching. How: place the corresponding amount of dot stickers on each craft stick and have a child match same color and quantity of pegs to each craft stick.
Craft Sticks 2️⃣5️⃣🔟Skip Counting
Another use for craft sticks is to learn to skip count. Simply write numbers on craft sticks and offer your child, using mini clothespins, to cover numbers accordingly, skip-counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s.
Magnetic Wand and DIY Pom Pom Sorting Activity
How about a pom pom sensory bin filled with magnetic rainbow circles and a magnetic wand to fish the circles out and color-sort on DIY paint swabs from a local hardware store! Take this opportunity and discuss magnetic vs non-magnetic while the child patiently fishes out the circles, color discriminates and sorts to matching paint samples.
✂️DIY ♻️Recycled 📦 Cardboard Apple 💻Laptop
See here How To ✂️Make Apple 💻Laptop For Kids From 📦Cardboard
First, the child learns the shape of the number by making it from a pipe cleaner, then through the sense of ✋🏻touch, the child reinforces numeral vs quantity association by counting pom poms. See the behind the scenes 📽video of 👧🏻Julia (8 yo) making this DIY ♻️Recycled 📦 Cardboard 🔢Numbers & Counters ✋🏻for 👦🏼her little brother, Adrian💞 here.
DIY Seeds and Grain Storage
Are you tired of constantly buying trays and storage boxes! Well, egg- cartons are just awesome for storing and sorting small objects. Here, I have labeled different seeds and grains to study its nutrient and vitamin value. See our 🌱🌼Botany Unit Study here.
♻️DIY Movable 🔡Alphabet
🎉Happy 🌞Summer Solstice! Today, we are making DIY Montessori Movable 🔡Alphabet from ♻️recycled 🍾 bottle caps! Just use dot stickers and write letters on them with a Sharpie. Also, in a Montessori language curriculum, vowels are color-coded 💙blue and consonants ❤️red for easier identification. (Buy Montessori Movable Alphabet here.) You can also offer your child to spell his/her name, count how many letters are in the name, make sentences and so forth. We are also using Montessori Colored Globe to explain the tilt of the Earth’s axis and why we have seasons and why today, June 21st is the longest day of the year.
DIY ❄️🌸🌳🍁Seasons Trees
Offer a child a spoon to fill the bottle caps with corresponding colored rice: white for winter, pink for spring, green for summer and orange for fall. We also used Montessori Movable Alphabet to spell out the names of the season. Fine motor, literacy, spelling and a geography and botany lesson all in one!
🐞Ladybug 🔢Counting ~ Montessori Math
This is a super easy ♻️recycled 🔢math bottle caps DIY. You would offer your child to place the corresponding number of 🐞ladybugs (counters/quantity) on a DIY bottle cal flower and match with the correct number of Montessori beads.
See how to make colored rice here 🎩Leprechaun 🍀Land DIY 🌀Hydro-Gels 💚Colored Rice 🙌🏻 Sensory Bin. (In a nutshell: vinegar + food coloring.) After the rice is ready, spread some mod podge on a clear plastic top (ours is from oatmeal) and sprinkle the rice over completely covering the plastic cap. We then colored the popsicle stick with tempera paints which are amazing! dry in 90 seconds, and using a glue gun secured the popsicle to the plastic top (make sure to press into the rice to bond). Then, using a glue gun again, adhere leaves and glue the bottles caps to each other resembling a flower petals.
Montessori Math emphasizes numeral (e.g. number 3) to 🐞🐞🐞quantity association so that the concept of numbers is less abstract for a younger child. Visually, a child can see that the number three is small and while the number ten is big!
COUNTING BY 🖐🏻+🖐🏻5s & 10s
Counting by 🔟s. Each set of 🙌🏻hands is printed on a different color cardstock to emphasize that two hands with five fingers each ( 🖐🏻+🖐🏻) make a total of ten. You may download the hands-template here. Montessori 💯Hundred board and Montessori beads (buy a set of colored units here and golden bead bars of ten here) offer a visual and quantitative help, which makes it much easier for a little one to conceptualize an abstract mathematical concept.
DIY Color Matching + Fine Motor Pegging
This DIY resembles matching Montessori Color Tablets ~ similar to Color Box 2 ~ a traditional Sensorial material introduced to toddlers starting at 2 ½ years old.
With this activity, besides simply matching color samples from your local hardware store, offer your child to practice fine motor skills by matching colored clothespins and also graduating pegs in order from smallest to largest or vice versa. And if you have plain wooden pegs, just color them either with Sharpies (what we used) or use tempera stick paints which are awesome too!
To learn more about Montessori 🌈Color Boxes, read here a detailed post with presentations on boxes one through three on my blog Montessori Color Box 1, 2 & 3 (Color tablets).
DIY Montessori Sandpaper Numbers:
Montessori Sandpaper Numbers are very easy DIY.
What you will need:
- green cardstock to resemble the traditional Montessori Sandpaper Numbers,
- scissors (children are also using a paper cutter for more precision),
- and a glue stick.
Having your child make or help you make these DIY Sandpaper Numbers will definitely ignite the excitement, promoting interest and engagement.
By sensorily feeling the number, the child is able to perceive the symbol through senses other than just visual. For more on Sandpaper Numbers, see here 🖐️Sandpaper 🔢 Numbers (Montessori 🔢 Math 101 🎥 Series 🎇 Curriculum).
Do you have an old magazine? Recycled old books? Expired calendars? How about turning them into homemade DIY puzzles!
Cut out a picture, laminate it (if you don’t have a laminating machine iron works great too) and cut it in as many pieces as you think your child can handle. For smaller children, just cut a picture in half; for older in quarters or even eighths.
And why not turn this ♻️RECYCLED ✂️DIY puzzle into a 🐋matching animals game!
See here DIY 🍂Fall Inspired Puzzle.
I am using a double-sided 🍂Fall picture I found in a catalog. With this type of DIY puzzle, you can adjust 📈📉the level of difficulty based on your child’s age. With smaller children, 📉choose a bright image with many objects and cut in fewer pieces (2 or 4 squares) or simply cut the picture vertically, for easier assembly. 📈With older children, the smaller the pieces, the harder it will be to assemble the puzzle😉so cut it accordingly to your child’s level.
♻️DIY 🍡Pop-Sticks, Pegs & Dot Stickers 🔴 ➕🔵 Addition Activity
This is a super easy and fun ♻️ math 🔢 ➕addition DIY where I ✍🏻️wrote ➕equations on 🍡pop-sticks, and as a control of error, a child can flip that same 🍡 and confirm the answer by counting the 🔴🔵dot-stickers. See here a 🎥video of Adrian solving all the ➕equations as well as how to make this ♻️DIY in a video post ♻️DIY 🍡Pop-Sticks, Pegs & Dot Stickers 🔴 ➕🔵 Addition Activity (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson).
DIY ♻️Paper Towel Roll 🔤Alphabet Matching Activity
Since lower case letters are more prevalent, I had Adrian match lower to upper case letters which were sporadically arranged on a paper towel roll. He would simply stick the lower case on top of the upper case.
For some introductory language lessons, see here our Letter Series post. To learn about Montessori Phonetical Sets of Presenting Alphabet letters, (see here) Set 1: First set: c m a t . For early reading, see here “Montessori CVC Picture Word cards with wooden Clothespins (💗Pink Series 🎥 Early Reading).” Also, see here “Montessori 💗 Pink Series “e” sound (Language 101 🎥 Series 🎇 Curriculum).”
In a Montessori Math curriculum, at around two years of age, after introducing Number Rods and Sandpaper Numbers you would introduce Spindle Box (buy here), which teaches a child the difference between the numeral (a 🔢 number/symbol written on a wooden box’s slot) and quantity (substance, like when a child is holding actual spindles in his/her hands). The box has numerals zero to nine written on separate slots, and a child concretely learns that one is not a much, while nine is a lot! See here a detailed post “Spindle Box & Sandpaper 🔢Numbers Extensions (Montessori Math).”
Montessori Spindle Box is also an easy DIY activity using any compartments (like utensils organizer), and anything substantial representing quantity a child can hold with the whole hand such as pens, crayons and why not 🍡 popsicle sticks. (Montessori materials need Not be 💸expensive.)
🎨Vincent Van Gogh Inspired 12 🌻Sunflowers Craft
See details here in a post as a tribute to Van Gogh’s Birthday, Adrian making 12 🌻Sunflowers Tissue Paper Recycled Cardboard Roll Paper-Mache Craft.
🐣EASTER INSPIRED DIYs
See here 🐣Easter Inspired ♻️DIY Egg 🔠Alphabet 🔡 Matching Activity.
See here 🐣Easter Inspired Montessori 🔉Sound 🔡Blending Game.
See here 🐰Easter 🐣Egg Bunting Banner Shaving Cream 🎨Marbled Paper ✂️Craft.
🐰Easter ✂️DIY ♻️Recycled 🍡Popsicle Puzzle
- recycled 🍡ice pop/popsicle sticks (or buy wooden craft sticks here),
- Easter stickers (or draw a picture),
- a craft knife,
- and a glue gun.
See detailed instructions on how to make this craft here ☘️Shamrock ✂️DIY ♻️Recycled 🍡Popsicle Puzzle Skip Counting by 🔟.
♻️DIY TIC TAC TOE
Do your children play tic-tac-toe? It’s a 🤗fun game and an easy ♻️✂️DIY if you have 💦water bottle caps and 🍡ice pop sticks (any craft sticks will do), and a glue gun.
See here “Easter🐣Inspired Pipe Cleaner Beading Craft for Children.”
See here a 📽 video of Adrian making these Easter 🐣Egg Decorations.
DIY 🐣Easter Eggs 🔉Sound Cylinders
This is an 🐣Easter Inspired DIY version of traditional Montessori Sound Cylinders ~ a material that isolates just one sense – the sense of hearing. Today, instead of six matching pairs, we will be making three matching pairs. So, you will fill one red and one blue with identical filler: starting with the loudest/pasta (code that pair as 1) to the softest/rice (code that pair as 3). You will have a pair in the middle/cereal (code it 2). As with all Montessori materials, there is a control of error – numbers on the bottom of each egg must match representing a matching pair.
During this sensorial activity your child will learn:
- auditory/sound discrimination by exploring one sense ~ the sense of hearing;
- the sense of order;
- matching the sounds since sounds made by the eggs are paired, i.e. the sound made by one egg in the red set matches the sound made by its equivalent egg in the blue set.
See the detailed presentation on traditional Montessori sound cylinders here.
👣Feet 🐣Egg Transferring 🌈Color Matching 💪🏻Gross Motor Game
See here a 📽video about this super fun gross motor DIY using recycled Easter eggs (balls work great too) where your kiddo, besides exercising those little feet, will have fun learning colors.
For more on🐣Easter DIYs, see here our 🐣Easter 🐰Inspired Themed Unit Study for Kids.
Stay tuned for more DIYs …