Activities for young children are cheap and easy to put together and the peace they will bring to your daily routine is priceless! Teaching your little ones to sit and concentrate for extended periods is one of the key skills every parent should be working on in the early years and one that will pay dividends in the future. Choose a variety of attractive materials that will stimulate their interest and be prepared to change them fairly regularly. It is important that the activity is not too difficult nor too easy. A little bit of a challenge will keep them interested – too challenging and they will be unable to succeed. If you present a tray that is too difficult, simply remove it and put it away for the future. Chances are they will love it in just a few short months.
I have written several posts detailing how to train your children to sit in their highchair, mat or playpen and the practicalities of when and how to change activities. Getting started takes a little extra time, but once you have built “tray time” into your day, it will become something your child looks forward to. Place them somewhere near you so you can chat and interact while you are cooking or doing some other task that enables you to encourage them in what they are doing when they need it and keep an eye on those smaller objects that they may find tempting to put in their mouths. Here are several ideas for the 2 to 5 age-range (approximately) that I have used in the past with my own children.
Sliding oversized paperclips onto matching coloured cardboard squares.
Matching clips to coloured popsticks. Great pincer-grip training for later writing. Make sure the clips you get have long enough handles and are not too stiff to open. These clips have one short and one long side and the children were not able to grip them properly.
Sorting popsticks by colour.
Tong transfer combined with colour sorting. The flowers came from a cheap plastic Hawaiian lei.
Duplo colour sort.
Tong transfer combined with bead colour or shape sort.
Golf tee hammering by colour. A piece of foam salvaged from packaging and a light wooden hammer from a Tap Tap game.
Colour and shape match combined with pincer grip practise while pegging.
Shape puzzle. This is a commercial set of attribute blocks. I remove all bar one set of the same colour and thickness and use it as a simple shape puzzle. Once they master this, I add other colours and thicknesses back in.
Pattern blocks are lots of fun. Leave them out on a small table and even your older children will not be able to resist putting a bunch together to make a picture. Young children enjoy the matching cards you can purchase to go with them.
Geoboard matching. Little ones just experiment with elastic bands but older children can do a variety of extension activities. Matching and copying geometric shapes is one.
Shape matching cards. You could use them for basic card games as well.
Good quality wooden puzzles are always attractive for children.
Chunky, simple puzzles are a good start for younger kids.
The concepts of heavier, lighter, full, empty etc. can be developed while playing with a set of balance scales.
Stacking and nesting objects develops the concept of size seriation; in this case, measuring cups.
This is a cardboard stacking box set that does the same as the Montessori pink tower. Not as nice but a lot cheaper!
Graduated wooden rings.
Picture to picture matching.
Matching picture halves is a good introduction to puzzles for those who get overwhelmed with too many pieces. Start with just a few pairs and work up.
Filed under: Workjobs & Montessori activities for highchair, mat or table time(mathematics, language, practical life & others) | Tagged: clipping, colour sorting, home-made Montessori, homeschooling with toddlers and preschoolers, Montessori style tray activities for preschoolers, pegging, practical life, routines, shoebox tasks, transfer, workjobs |