A few months ago, I shared ideas of sensory activities using everyday objects for 6-12 month-old babies. You appreciated the article but my little girl has grown since, so today I am writing about activities that she has enjoyed when she was 12-18 months old.
Learning to walk
I must admit that I was quite impatient to see my baby daughter take her first steps for many reasons. They lead the baby towards autonomy and the parents to a page that turns: my baby daughter was gradually becoming a little girl with a pretty strong character. During ‘the learning to walk’ phase, all her energy and attention were mobilised to control her muscles, coordinate her legs and acquire sense of balance. And when she gained enough confidence, she wanted to enjoy her new freedom and discover the world. To accompany her, almost all of our activities were aimed at movement:
- Climbing, climbing the stairs on all fours, fast and steady walking which was often interrupted by her discoveries and periods of rest…
- Carrying heavy objects: Maria Montessori called this period “the period of maximum effort”, children respond to challenges that will allow them to develop their physical strength and test their limits without hurting themselves. For that, I encouraged my daughter to put away bottles of water, bricks of milk and let her drag all the shopping bags she wanted to carry.
- Playing with toys that my daughter could push in order to develop her motor skills and sense of coordination.
The captivating powers of water
Activities concerning water have always pleased my little lady. Very early, my daughter was attracted and intrigued by water. I remember how she has enjoyed bath time since she was born. Here are some simple water games:
Fill your child’s bathtub with water, put two containers (e.i. bottles or cups) and watch your little explorer having fun pouring, filling and emptying them.You can also use pierced containers (empty yogurt pots you can pierce yourself or commercial toys) to mimic rain. Take advantage of these moments to enrich your child’s vocabulary with the words “dry / wet – empty / full”.
« Sink or float » game: this activity helps the child to observe what is sinking and what is floating. For this, you need a basin half filled with water and various objects that you can collect during a walk, for example (a stone, dead leaves, a piece of wood, a spoon…). Then, divide the objects on the table and encourage your child to put them one by one in the water. Your little explorer will observe that some objects float and others sink more or less quickly. Take advantage of this activity to enrich your child’s vocabulary with the words « sink(s) / float(s) ».
Transfer some walnuts and fir cones using a small strainer: this activity is ideal for working the motor skills and child’s patience.
The first Montessori picture book
It is a set of 150 Montessori-inspired nomenclature cards containing 5 sets of classified images (forest animals, birds, insects, flowers and fruit). This set of cards will follow your child’s development. Initially, it is used as a picture book to enrich your child’s vocabulary, and later as a reading support.
Until my daughter was 18 months old, I described the cards slowly using few words, imitating the noise of the animal for example while leaving her the time to observe it (at this age, I worked with picture cards with no writing on them). Once she was able to recognise several cards, I suggested playing the detective: I asked her to find a particular card or cards among others (the number was chosen according to the cards she was able to recognise). Today, it is my daughter’s favourite game. Once she had her breakfast, brushed her teeth and washed her face, she goes straight to her cards and plays with them countless times in the day.
Primary colours – first steps
When my daughter was 16 months old, we began learning to distinguish primary colours (red, blue and yellow) using a sensory approach. Indeed, it is not at this age when we teach children to name the colours but to differentiate them. To accompany my daughter in this learning, I set up the following Montessori activities:
- The unique colour cards that I presented to her one by one and named each of the cards.
- Coloured bottles: 3 small bottles filled with water in which you incorporate a few drops of blue, yellow and blue food dyes
- The colour baskets: in parallel with the two previous activities, I presented my daughter with a colourful basket that contained small objects of the same colour. For example, I let her explore for a week a basket containing only yellow objects, then a red basket with red objects the following week, and so on.
- The finger paint and the modeling clay that we worked using one colour at a time so that she better visualised the differences. I told her: “today, we paint in yellow”. Then we changed the colour during the next workshop.
Nursery rhymes and hand games
Since her birth, I have sung for my daughter. I sing to comfort and calm her, or simply to play and dance with her. Today, she has her favorite nursery rhymes and lullabies that we sing together (you will understand, she reproduces the sounds and the words she has memorised).
The advantage of nursery rhymes is that they help my daughter learn the language: she memorises words, phrases and stories. She also learns the rhythm of the song. These songs also participate in her motor skills and body coordination development: when we sing a song, she makes gestures and plays with fingers so she discovers her body, the world, the numbers. She loves it!
These are examples of essential toys liked by children of this age group:
- Montessori built-in puzzles
- Wooden abacus for fun stacking
- Wooden cubes to build, stack… …and especially demolish!
- A walking trolley to walk around the house and enjoy transporting little objects
- A drum with a stick to accompany singing
- Books: My Love by Astrid Desbordes, The most beautiful lullabies of the world (CD book) published by Didier Jeunesse, Baby Balthazar collection by Marie-Hélène PLACE
You can find some great toys in our shop!
Well, I hope this article has given you enough ideas to keep your little explorer busy at home. As I like to say, remember that the child learns by manipulating, experimenting, demolishing: by trial and error. Try to find your inner child during these activities and become a part of your little one’s fantastic universe, because this is the key to success!
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