10 Simple and Engaging Activities to Explore with Your Child

Montessori Educator Ms. Chandler highlights some easy and impactful ways to engage with your child at home.

The past 18 months have been challenging, especially for parents and caregivers of young children. We often find ourselves wondering how we can make our children's experiences at home stimulating, while also encouraging some subtle learning? There are many various activities that we can provide.

Establishing a creative, fun and educational experience for our children is truly rewarding. During their first few years on this Earth we must remember that everything is sinking into their developing brains. Oftentimes things may rest in their subconscious for a while then resurface later.

It is such a wondrous sight to watch a child as their ‘light bulb’ switches on when they understand something clearly. When they enthusiastically recall something with pride it is a privilege to behold!

Each child develops at their own pace and we as their guides should observe and honor their process. Always consider the child’s age when creating an activity and if there are multiple children working with the same material, be mindful to adjust it accordingly, making sure it is suitable and age appropriate for the entire group. Many of these suggestions can be created with extensions for older children.

When preparing activities, be mindful to keep them simple, clean, and if possible, presented on a tray or large platter-like plate (you can even use a small cookie sheet). This way it can be easily carried to a table or floor space area. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy creating and participating in your young child‘s early development!

1. Cutting Activity
  • 1) Make strips of paper with lines on them.
  • 2) Begin with straight lines for a child who is just beginning to learn how to use scissors.
  • 3) Try making wavy lines, zig zags, dot to dot, color to color or perhaps number to number as they master their cutting ability.
  • 4) Complicate it a little by giving specific directions such as how many strips they should cut out and having them count as they cut.
Remember: Cutting is a very focused activity, so allow the child to take as long as they need to gain confidence and establish strength and coordination of their hands and fingers as they learn. Note: The paper strips can then be saved for another activity using glue.
2. Gluing Activity
  • 1) Have the child glue the strips of paper onto a larger piece of paper
  • 2) Specify how many strips, and have your child count them; if you used colored paper, reinforce color recognition such as “show me red” etc
  • 3) You can use colored tissue paper as a fun alternative
  • 4) Have the child tear strips into small pieces
  • 5) Glue the stripes of tissue paper as flat pieces or or bunch them into little groups
Suggestion: use the strips of paper saved from the cutting work activity
3. Sensory Bins
  • 1) Pick a bin. You can use any type of bin: dish tubs, large storage containers, large kitchen bowls will work great
  • 2) Pick fillers for the bin: clean sand, dry beans, buttons, acorns, crumpled up pieces of foil, rice or lentils are good options.Even tiny cars, bracelets or hair clips could work.
  • 3) Fill the bin with desired filler and hide bury objects inside
  • 4) Make games up, like “close your eyes and feel for a ....(name something)”
  • 5) Include counting at the end to count how many objects are hidden in the bin
Option: sort by colors or type of object
4. Sink or Float Tubs
  • 1) Using tubs or just the kitchen sink, gather objects that will float or sink. Suggested items: corks, small stones, plastic or metal straws, paper cups, rubber erasers, beads, bracelets, small bouncy balls, large marbles, etc. Look around your house for other fun ideas
  • 2) Fill tub with water
  • 3) Ask your child to guess if each item will float or sink
  • 4) Experiment with placing eggs in two separate tubs of water. Add salt to one tub to see what happens
  • 5) Discuss the science behind floatation
5. Painting with a Purpose
  • 1) Call out a number, letter or color
  • 2) Have the child paint what he/she hears
  • 3) Ask your child to paint with three colors: red, blue and yellow
  • 4) The child will discover that green, purple and orange appear as they paint and the colors mix together
  • 5) Ask your child to show you a particular color, which will reinforce their color recognition
6. Threading Beads on Pipe Cleaners
  • 1) Craft a ”+” and ”=” symbol with pieces of paper or cardboard
  • 2) Create a simple equation, for example: lay out 3 purple beads then place ”+” symbol, then lay out 5 yellow beads
  • 3) Then count the beads together for the answer and place the ”=” symbol down. Say “3 together with 5 equals 8!”
  • 4) Ask the child to thread the equation on to the pipe cleaner
  • 5) Additionally if your child is writing, have them write down the answer on paper
Note: This activity can be done for fun or to create a wearable bracelet. You can take it a step further and use this activity for color recognition, counting by colors and simple addition.
7. Button Sorting Activity
  • 1) Create simple transfer work: set out 2 small bowls
  • 2) Have your child use their pincer grip (thumb and index finger) or small tongs or scoop spoon to move the buttons from left to right (this prepares them for reading and writing) and back again
  • 3) You can sort the buttons into pairs and have the child match the
Suggestion: If you want an even more of a challenge, make a chart with a pattern of colors that the child must follow
8. Animal Sorting Activity
  • 1) Place assorted animal figures in a dish
  • 2) Encourage the child to either categorize the various different types of animals into groups or pair the animals
  • 3) Have your child count how many of each there are and sort by color
  • 4) Depending on what animals you have, you could also talk about what continent the animal might live on!
9. Matching Game
  • 1) Create a fun, interactive material to use for matching (something flash card size is ideal)
  • 2) Begin by playing it like a game. Place cards face down and turn two over to find the same one
  • 3) Alternatively you can write a label for each picture. A child that is learning to read can read the label then match it to the picture

Another option is to make a three-part card game:

  • 1) Place the picture and word together by laying them down side-by-side 2. Place additional sets of pictures and words by themselves
  • 2) Lay down the card and ask the child to tell you what it is
  • 3) Next the child can match the pictures and words accordingly
Note: This activity can be done with two or more players and reinforces patience and memory skills.
10. Stories - reading or creating
  • 1) If you do not already have a dedicated space, create a peaceful spot for reading books and having some quiet time.
  • 2) Establish the area with either little chairs or cushions on the floor
  • 3) Place a basket in this area with several books
  • 4) Change the books out every few days. This will keep your child returning to this area to see what’s new
  • 5) Remind your child that this area is for looking at or reading books quietly
  • 6) Have the child understand the importance of being respectful and quiet for themself and for others
  • 7) For an older child, encourage writing sentences and drawing pictures to correspond with what they’re reading. This can be made into their own book
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