Montessori Activities for a 2 year old

2.libraryI’ve been reading about things to do with my 2 year old to start focusing on learning during the day since we aren’t doing preschool until he’s 4. I’ve gotten ideas from lots of Montessori blogs, but some of it is just normal toddler activities. Here are some things he’s been enjoying and others that I hope to try in the future:

  • Playing with stamps. We have letter stamps from Michaael’s and I draw something with the letter and he stamps near it
  • Matching activities. I took photos of lots of his toys so we do matching of animals, trains, blocks, etc. We have done item to picture and picture to picture since I printed doubles
  • Using tongs to put pom poms in a silicone ice mold
  • Doing wooden puzzles
  • Using beans to count on a few pictures I drew that have different numbers of circles
  • Using paper “number rods” and putting them in different spots and running to each number
  • Trying to “sew” with paper by threading it through a folder I cut slits into
  • Making and playing with play dough
  • Using scissors and tape

Things we plan to do include:

  • Throwing balls at a target
  • Making stamps out of potatoes
  • Making our own paint
  • Growing a carrot top in water
  • Making a teddy bear parachute
  • Playing a game where we run around and when I say “stop” we have to run somewhere specific

Montessori board books

 

6.24books

I am always on the lookout for board book that have realistic looking illustrations for Jack which is in the montessori style. I think that having really cartoon-y pictures might be confusing once kids see the animals in real life, and I also prefer books which are not too busy if possible. 

  • My and Jack’s favorite book is the animals one by bright baby which is a great company in general. Jack learned many of his animal noises from the real photos of animals on the pages. It’s also relatively long and has lots of different animals.

  • Baby woof woof was one of our most read books as well. I liked the realistic photos and Jack liked that it was lift-the-flap style, and also that there was a picture of a ball which was his favorite object for a long time

  • Even though Where is Spot is more cartoony than I would like, the animals look pretty realistic, and Jack really loved the easy to lift flaps that were easier for him than the woof woof book above. It’s also nice to help label household items and to show the concept of a mommy and baby dog.

  • This first numbers book has realistic photos of different items and is lift-the-flap. I wish that two of the items weren’t a cupcake and candies, but Jack loves the balloon pictures. He also surprisingly loves to trace the large numbers.

  • We got this set of 4 bright baby books for our airplane flight across the country and Jack enjoyed them because they are touch-and-feel. They also have basic photos of items he knows like balls, cars, cats, and dogs. They are each fairly short but are a cute set.

I think that when your kid is in the board book age, it makes sense to also get books that won’t be annoying to you as a parent, so I appreciated that these books had few words and no annoying rhymes that get stuck in your head or characters doing things that don’t make sense :) Since we have a lot of books about animals, I’m excited to take Jack to the local animal sanctuary sometime so that he can meet more animals in person!

Update at 18 months

6.24books

 

I can’t believe how fast time is passing and that Jack is already 18 months old! I remember when he was a tiny baby we’d always be the youngest ones at meetups and things, and now he is definitely a toddler! I try as much as possible to be present and enjoy each day because they really fly by, and even if we have another child it’ll never be the same as having all my time to enjoy just Jack. Some things that have been going on lately:

  • Talking: Jack is saying about 10 words or so now. It’s on the low end of normal, but hopefully he’s just a later talker like his dad was. I make sure to narrate what we are doing all day and wait for him to respond to questions so he has the opportunity to practice talking. While he says 10 words he says the same 3 most often- ball, mama, and car. So it really doesn’t feel like he’s that grown up yet, I think once he is using his words all the time it will really feel like he’s not a baby any more.
  • Eating: Jack has gradually been eating more solids. He likes most things that are breaded such as organic chicken nuggets or fish nuggets. He is also eating more fruits such as peaches. Our meals are still pretty random things at this point though, like raisins and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • Babywearing: I still wear Jack for usually either a nap or to get him to sleep for bedtime. I also use the Tula a lot for when we are walking to of from a store or part of the time we are walking our dog.
  • Breastfeeding: Jack still nurses a lot! If I’m gone for 4-5 hours for work I start feeling engorged. He also nurses every few hours at night. Once his teeth are in I’ll try to cut that down, but he keeps having teething pain at least a few weeks a month so it doesn’t seem worth it to deal with the crying and lack of sleep of night weaning just to go back on it a week later when he has horrible teething pain all night.
  • Clothes: we have still been able to stick with 100% organic clothes! I’ve been happy to find toddler clothes at H&M, Frugi, Burt’s Bees, and some random stuff on amazon.
  • Cloth diapers: Jack is wearing mostly Bumgenius 4.0 pockets now because they are easy to change while he’s standing or walking. He goes to the potty when he wakes up in the morning and usually after nap and we get almost all poops in the potty.
  • Movement: Jack is almost running now which is cute. He is also climbing nonstop! He can push a chair to the kitchen counter and climb up on it which is scary. We are looking for a used learning tower for him to make standing at the kitchen sink a little safer.
  • Playing: Jack still prefers playing with containers or laundry over mot of the toys he has! Some favorite toys that actually get used often are books, his wooden cart, and his pounding toy which he also likes to remove the pegs from and put them places.

Overall he can entertain himself for longer and longer now- sometimes 10-20 minutes, so it’s getting so much easier for me! I can now cook in the kitchen sometimes while he plays in the sink or with some containers, or I can clean while he “swiffers.” He also sits in his high chair long enough for me to eat an entire meal often, although sometimes I have to give him a little container with a lid for him to put raisins into to keep him busy at the end.

I love how he learns new things almost every day, like how to make a new animal noise. He is starting to get upset when we tell him he can’t do things, but luckily after reading a ton about positive parenting (I love the book Peaceful Parenting) I feel pretty well equipped to deal with it and help him learn to calm himself down so far. I’m sure it will get harder (but in some ways easier) as he gets older though!

Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys ūüėČ We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia, ¬†putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week. ¬†I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

Nontoxic children’s balls

Jack with the crocodile creek ball
Jack with the crocodile creek ball

Jack (16 months old) is obsessed with balls, so much so that “ball” is by far his most used word. I of course wanted to find a natural and nontxic ball for him to play with, so I looked into a bunch of different options. We have a dog that tries to steal and eventually chew up the balls, so I thought of getting Jack some wool dryer balls that are all natural, but I didn’t because of the dog.¬†These¬†for example are even organic, and I bet they would be great for babies since they are soft. You can even make your own at home apparently.

organic wool balls

These natural rubber balls also looked great, but I was worried that they would be too small so the dog could fit them in his mouth

natural rubber balls

There are also some plush organic balls like¬†these, and I’m sure they would be great for babies.

organic ball

What we ended up deciding on was¬†these¬†rubber balls from Crocodile Creek which are made of natural and synthetic rubber because they are the most natural large non-plush ball I could find. I emailed the manufacturer and they sent me information showing that their balls tested free of any heavy metals. It would be better if they were all natural rubber of course, but this seems to be the best option if you are looking for a large ball that bounces. We’ve taken it outside and Jack had a great time bouncing it around. I especially like the world design because it seems educational! We got the 7 inch one which works well for Jack at 16 months.

crocodile creek ball

The other option we use often is letting Jack play with ball-shaped citrus fruits!3.5