14 Montessori-Inspired Activities for a 2-Year-Old

14 DIY Montessori-Inspired Activities for a Two-Year-Old

About six months ago, I wrote a series about Raising a Low-Media Toddler.

In one of my posts, I offered ideas for Montessori-inspired toddler activities. My daughter had just turned two, and so I shared what she was doing at that time.

It’s amazing how much she has grown and developed in the six months since then! She can now do a whole range of new, more complex activities. I thought I’d share a few new ideas, then, for a child around thirty months, or two-and-a-half.

Most of these activities, I first introduced to her around her second birthday, but to my disappointment were too advanced for her. I had to put them away for a while. But I re-introduced them only months later, and to my delight, she was now able to enjoy and master them. (So if you try an activity and it doesn’t work out for you, don’t get discouraged. Just put it in the closet for a few months and try again. You might be amazed what happens.)

If you’re new to the Montessori philosophy, I offer a bit of an intro in my earlier post. I find this infograph from Racheous helpful, too: What Makes an Activity Montessori?

Note: I got most of these ideas either from Pinterest, or from the book Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic (one of my all-time favourite Montessori books, and one I highly recommend if you’re interested in Montessori-at-home).

And bonus: all of these activities are incredibly low-cost, or even free — they typically use items you already have in your home. I don’t have the money to invest in fancy Montessori materials, so I do my best with what I have.

Here are 14 Montessori-inspired toddler activities we’ve enjoyed:

Developing the Senses

Colour-Matching Wheel

Colour Wheel Matching Game : 15 Montessori-Inspired Activities for Toddlers

Clothespin colour wheel matching game. 14 DIY Montessori-Inspired Activities for a Two-Year-Old

I got this idea here. I cut the circle out of a few sheets of stiff paper glued together (file folders, if you want to know), divided it into 8 wedges, and then painted the wedges and clothespins to match.

Sorting Buttons with Muffin Tins

Sorting buttons with a muffin tin: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Sequencing/Matching 2D Shapes (Circles)

Montessori activities for a two-year-old: matching sizes

I got this activity idea from Teach Me To Do It Myself.

This activity involves a sequence of 8 circles diminishing in size. (I created a PDF of the image, inspired by the worksheet in the back of the book, which you can download here). I printed out the image twice — first onto white paper, then onto red cardstock. I left the white sheet intact, but cut out the red circles.

Then I lay out the red circles in a line, in random order, above the drawn circles, and invited her to match the red circles up with the corresponding drawn circles according to size.

She was able to catch on quite quickly. I tried the same activity with squares and triangles, but for some reason she couldn’t get it at all. I’ll try again in a few months.

Feely Bag Game

Feely bag game: Montessori activities for a two-year-oldThis seems to be a common Montessori activity — I’ve seen it in many places. The purpose is to help develop the child’s sense of touch.

You need a basket, an opaque drawstring bag, a collection of familiar household objects, and a small towel. (Here, for the objects, I’ve selected an apple, a plastic flower, a head of garlic, a pair of toddler scissors, a pinecone, Gumby, a sponge, and a spoon).

Show the items in the basket to the child. Then cover the basket with a towel, and tell the child to close her eyes (or blindfold her) while you choose an item from the basket and place it in the bag. Then invite the child to reach into the bag and identify the item only by touch. Do this with each item, one at a time. This was a fun activity!

Practical Life

Clothespins on a Bowl

Practicing with clothespins on a bowl: Montessori activities for a 2-year-old

This idea also came from Teach Me to Do It Myself. It’s a great way to introduce your toddler to clothespins, which are useful for developing the pincer grasp.

Lydia still doesn’t have the strength to open full-sized clothespins, so I used mini ones (found at a craft store like Hobby Lobby). I just gave her a bowl filled with clothespins and showed her how to clip them onto the rim of the bowl. This is great for developing coordination and strength in the hands.

Clothespins on a Clothesline

Practicing hanging clothes on a clothesline: Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Practicing with a mini-clothesline: Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Once she had mastered clothespins on the bowl, I moved on to a mini-clothesline, which is more complex and requires even greater coordination. It involves first hanging the cloth over the clothesline and then clipping it in place. (I got this idea here.)

For this activity, you need a wooden tray, square scraps of fabric, string, and a bowl of mini-clothespins. I got my tray from Hobby Lobby for $6, and cut up some old t-shirts for the fabric scraps. I placed the cloths in a pile on the tray and set the clothespins beside it, and demonstrated with one piece before inviting her to try.

She loved this a lot more than I expected, and after the first time I often found her taking this tray off her shelf and doing this activity all by herself.

Stringing Pony Beads onto Pipe Cleaners

Stringing beads onto pipe cleaners: Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Pipe cleaners are great for little hands since they stay stiff and then grip onto the beads to keep them from sliding. (I’ve already sung their praises here).

Tip: for this activity, thread one bead onto the end of the pipe cleaner and twist it on, to keep beads from falling off the end.

Stringing Wooden Beads onto Embroidery Thread

Stringing wooden beads onto embroidery thread: Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Since thread is much trickier for threading than pipe cleaners, you’ll need plastic embroidery needles for this activity (I got mine from Hobby Lobby; you can also get them here). Again, tie a bead onto the other end to keep the beads from falling off.

Transferring with a Baster

Transferring with a baster: Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Transferring with a baster:14  Montessori activities for a two-year-oldIt took a while for her to grasp the importance of dipping the tip into the water, squeezing, and then lifting the tip before squeezing again into the next bowl.

Note the sponge, so she can clean up spills as she makes them.

Transferring with a Dropper

Transferring with a dropper: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Got this idea here.

Lydia had to use the skills she learned with the baster (above) to master this activity.

This one is part fine-motor exercise, part science experiment: I coloured some vinegar, and had her transfer it to a plate of baking soda to watch it sizzle and foam. Fun!

Button Snake

Button Snake: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

This idea comes from Happy Hooligans, and you can get the details on how to make it there. A great way to practice buttoning!

Cutting with Scissors

Cutting with Scissors: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Yes, real scissors. No, she has not lost any fingers. (I bought her a pair of these Fiskars spring-action preschool scissors because I thought they would be easier to use, but she actually prefers the regular kind.)

I realize she’s not using the right technique here, but the concentration and the sense of accomplishment she gets out of it are worth it.

Sewing on an Embroidery Hoop

Sewing on an Embroidery Hoop: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

Sewing on an embroidery hoop -- 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old


Toddler sewing: 14  Montessori activities for a two-year-old

I got this wonderful idea from Childhood 101 and Filth Wizardy.

First, I put some shelf-liner (bought cheap at the dollar store) in an embroidery hoop. Then I threaded a plastic needle with embroidery thread and tied a pony bead to the end. I demonstrated how you push the needle up from the bottom, pull it through, and then push it down from the top.

A great activity for introducing kids to how sewing  and weaving work.


Number Rods


Number rods are a great, easy-to-make tool for introducing your toddler to numerals and quantity. I go into more detail about number rods in this post.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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  1. great stuff! I posted something on my facebook about montessori (kind of making fun of it…) and everyone asked me for my opinion on it (I’m still confused by that…). I should just refer them here! Its amazing how of all the activities I’ve done, we’ve had very few overlap. so this is a great resource. Also, I was SHOCKED when I saw a 20 month old use scissors and thought for sure Sam could never do that. Well, with just a little practice and direction, he’s been able to cut (with extreme focus) for about 2 months now! Its really incredible!
    alison recently posted..Our (East Coast) gardenMy Profile

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! I loved the post about Number Rods and was searching your site yesterday for more on the Montesorri Method. You’ve got quite a few things here that I can do with items I already have on hand.

  3. I may not have kids, but I love reading this stuff (I like living vicariously!). I will be sharing this post with a dear friend of mine who homeschools! XO
    Rebecca recently posted..Product Recommendations: CosmeticsMy Profile

  4. Melissa H-K says

    This post has some wonderful ideas! I’m passing it on to my daughter who is starting to homeschool her kids, aged 4.5, 3, and 15 months (twins).

  5. Thank you for posting these ideas. I have a two year old just a couple of months younger than yours and I am really excited to try some of these out. I am sure she would enjoy them! Thanks for the heads up about the mini clothes pins too. We just got a hobby lobby in town, so we’ll have to check that out. Really appreciate all your ideas!

  6. Ah!! This post is serving to remind me of all the things that I do NOT do with my two year old! I did these or similar activities with my other two way more…honestly I just forget with Kathleen. She still is learning many, many things so I don’t feel too bad but I’ve been noticing too that she gets into things way, way, way more than her older siblings did. I feel like it would probably really help if I started doing things that held her attention that were more at her level. Thanks for this list, I’m totally going to get on the ball for next week using some of these ideas!

  7. What wonderful ideas! Okay, can you tell me how to have more TIME in my day so I can make all of these?
    Michele recently posted..Motherhood with a Toddler, while ExpectingMy Profile

  8. many thanks for sharing with us these wonderful ideas!

  9. thanks for all these ideas. Quick question – for the hoop w/ plastic needle, you use regular embroidery thread or is there a special thick kind? The thread in the pictures looks really thick!

    Renee recently posted..sleeping babies, hugs and other precious children thingsMy Profile

  10. Where did you get the material for the number rods?

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