Early Childhood Montessori Lessons
Seashell Sorting by Size
Arrange a tray with a mat, a shell-shaped card labeled small, one labeled medium, and one labeled large, and a basket of seashells of varying sizes (being sure none pose a potential choking hazard.)
Invite the child to work with you at a table.
Tell the child “we are going to sort shells by size.”
Unroll the mat on the table.
Place the shell labeled “small” in the top left corner of the mat. Look at the child and say “small.”
Place the shell labeled ‘medium’ to the right of the first card. Say “medium.”
Place the shell labeled ‘large’ to the right of the second card and say “large.”
Select a shell from the basket, taking time to examine its features closely. Place it under the size card it corresponds to and say its size to the child. For example if it is a larger shell, place it under the card that says ‘large,’ and say “large.”
Continue selecting shells and placing them under their appropriate size cards.
When all shells have been sorted, pick them up one at a time and place them back in their basket.
Pick up the label cards and place them in a neat pile on the tray.
Roll up the mat and return it to the tray.
Invite the child to have a turn!
Indirect preparation for Math
Development of concentration
Assemble a tray with a piece of styrofoam square, a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet colored pipe cleaners, and a small bowl with corresponding colored pony beads.
Invite the child to work with you at a table.
Pick up the red pipe cleaner in your left hand.
With your right hand pick up a red pony bead from the bowl. Carefully slide the pony bead onto the red pipe cleaner.
Continue on until you have placed all the red pony beads onto the red pipe cleaner.
With your left hand, push the end of the pipe cleaner into the front left side of the styrofoam square.
Once the left side is in, use your right hand to push the other end of the pipe cleaner into the front right side of the styrofoam square. You should have made a half circle on the top of the styrofoam with the pipe cleaner.
Continue on with the rest of the colors in the same manner, placing subsequent pipe cleaners behind the first in order of the colors of the rainbow.
When finished, remove the pipe cleaners one at a time, removing the pony beads as well one at a time and returning them to their dish.
Invite the child to have a turn!
Fine motor skills
Visual discrimination and matching
Focus and concentration
Assemble a tray with mittens made of felt or cardstock in a pile, each with a number 1-10 on them, and a basket with smaller snowflakes or stickers.
Invite the child to join you at a rug with tray.
Remove pile of mittens and place each one down in on rug from left to right in sequential order saying the numbers as you go. Have the child repeat the numbers after you.
Point to number one mitten, say “one” and count one snowflake into your hand. Hand the one snowflake to the child and have them repeat “one,” before placing it on the number one mitten.
Continue on with the rest of the mittens in order, counting each snowflake in your hands before counting them into the child’s hands to place on the mitten.
Once all snowflakes have been counted and placed on appropriate mittens, pick up each snowflake one at a time and place back in basket on tray.
Pick up mittens in order from 1-10 and place in neat pile on tray.
Return tray to shelf.
Reinforces one-to-one counting skills
Extension of Spindle Game lesson
Development of concentration
Oranges and Cloves
Assemble a tray with half of an orange, a pin puncher, or pencil, or toothpick, (depending on age of children and restrictions of school for safety purposes), and bowl of cloves.
Pick up the pencil or pin puncher and explain to the child this is a sharp object and can be dangerous and should be used very carefully!
Demonstrate how to hold the pencil or pin puncher and slowly, carefully, poke a hole in the orange.
Place the pencil or pin puncher down and insert a clove into the orange.
Invite the child to have a turn.
Be sure to talk to the child about the smells they are noticing!
Sense of smell stimulated
Fine motor control
Develops pencil grip
Concentration and focus
Holiday Metal Inset Variation
Invite child to complete a Metal Inset work with you! Select a tray from the shelf, a triangle inset or frame, a brown, green, yellow, blue, and red colored pencils. Bring materials to the table.
Place triangle inset or frame on top of paper on right side of the tray. Pick up the green colored pencil and show the child your pencil grip. Say “This is how you hold a pencil!” (May not be necessary if child has already mastered original Metal Inset work.)
Starting at the bottom left corner of the triangle, slowly trace the frame or inset to make a triangle on the page. Point out the child what shape you made.
Use the green colored pencil to shade in the triangle.
Draw a small rectangle at the bottom of the triangle with the brown colored pencil.
Use the red and blue colored pencils to make circles on the tree for the ornaments.
Use the yellow colored pencil to make a star at the top of the tree.
Invite the child to make her own Metal Inset tree!
Develops pencil grip and fine motor skills
Work left to right to indirectly prepare for reading
Understanding of geometry
Smelling Spices of India
Ages: 2 ½-6
Arrange an assortment of spices in different jars with labels on a tray. Some examples may be tumeric, cloves, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. You may use Montessori Smelling Bottles, or a different type of container that will allow the child to smell, see, and maybe even taste the different spices!
Bring the tray of spices to a table.
Explain to the child you are going to explore spices of India. (You may wish to bring the Globe or Continent Map to the table as well to point out where India is.)
Pick up the first smelling jar/bottle and take a minute to demonstrate how to deeply inhale the scent.
Hand the jar to the child to do the same.
Introduce the name of the spice and take a minute to discuss what types of food it may be used in, how it grows, any medicinal purposes it has, etc.
Continue on in this manner with the remaining spices.
After the child has been introduced to each of the scents, and perhaps tasted a few, you may wish to expand on the lesson by covering the child’s eyes with a blindfold and having them smell each jar and try to identify the scent without looking!
Develops sense of smell and discrimination
Exploring and learning about other cultures
Assemble a tray with a Pumpkin, a child-size hammer, and a bowl with golf tees inside.
Pick up the hammer first and explain to the child this is a tool that could hurt someone and should be used carefully!
Sit next to the child and pick up a tee,, holding it carefully against the side of the pumpkin.
Carefully and slowly hammer the tee into the pumpkin.
Once the tee is all the way in, invite the child to have a turn!
Helps develop fine and gross motor control
Promotes strong hand-eye coordination
Develops the child’s attention span
Following sequenced directions
Laminate a leaf and hole punch holes around the edges of the leaf. Thread a shoelace, knotted at the end, through the bottom of the top hole.
Pull lace all the way through to knot. Arrange lesson on a tray.
Thread lace through the top of next hole, moving clockwise.
Continue lacing through the top, followed by the bottom, until the shoelace is laced all the way through. Be sure to make slow, deliberate movements, making eye contact with the child after each step to be sure she is following.
Undo lacing in same manner as above and invite the child to have a turn.
Develops fine motor skills, pincer grip
Develops focus and attention span
Promotes independence by preparing for tying shoes
Collect an assortment of leaves from outside with children or have children bring in leaves they have collected at home. Assemble leaves in a basket.
Unroll a rug and bring each tray from the Botany Cabinet beside the rug.
Slowly remove each inset from the trays along the top edge of the rug.
Gently remove one leaf that the child has collected or brought from home from the basket and carefully examine it. Hand the leaf to the child to examine.
Take time to look at each of the inset leaves at the top of the rug before placing the leaf in your hand under the inset it most closely matches.
Do same with the rest of the leaves in the basket.
Place leaves back in basket after matching all.
Place insets from left to right into frames in the tray
Invite child to have a turn.
Strengthens ability to follow sequenced directions
Develops attention span
Appreciation of nature/environment
Packing a Suitcase
Ages: 2 ½ - 6
Talk with your child about what they might need to pack if they were to go on a trip! If you are planning a trip to the beach, of course they will want to bring their bathing suit, sunscreen, perhaps a hat, toothbrush, etc.
Arrange the clothes, toiletries, shoes, a book, and any toys you have talk about together and your child has chosen to bring on a trip, in a basket on a table.
Set a suitcase next to the basket and demonstrate for the child how to open it.
Take heaviest items (such as shoes) out of the basket and place neatly in bottom of suitcase.
Next take each item of clothing, one at a time, and unfold it on the table. Demonstrate for the child how to fold up shirts or pants (left to right, top to bottom) and neatly arrange them in the suitcase. (Don’t be afraid to be meticulous! The child will surprise you with how much they observe and mimic.)
Books, toys, and toiletries in a bag can go on top!
Take everything out of the suitcase one at a time, after you have demonstrated, and invite your child to have a turn to practice.
Develops long, sequential memory and attention span
Ability to follow directions
Crossing the midline
Care of self and independence
Develops fine and gross motor skills
1. Arrange a tray with a large shell, large basin, pitcher, sponge, toothbrush, small towel, and soap or some sort of polish.
2. Retrieve an apron for yourself and the child.
3. Fill the pitcher with water and slowly pour the water into the basin on the tray.
4. Put the shell in the water and use the sponge to carefully wash the shell from left to right, top to bottom, making sure to use slow, purposeful movements for the child to mimic.
5. Take the shell out of the water and place on the tray. Dip the sponge into the polish you have chosen and apply the polish to the shell as explained above.
6. Use a toothbrush to get in any cracks or crevices the shell has.
7. Wet the sponge one last time in the water and remove the polish as donebefore.
8. Fold the towel left to right, top to bottom and gently dry the shell in same manner.
9. Place the bowl with polish into the basin with water to wash it out. Dry the inside and outside with towel.
10. Pour the water from the basin into the pitcher and pour this into the sink.
11. Fold the towel from left to right, top to bottom and dry the inside of the basin. Gently flip it over and dry the outside.
12. Dry the pitcher in same manner.
13. Allow the child to have a turn to polish the seashell.
1. Develops attention span and concentration
2. Increases ability to follow sequenced directions
3. Develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
4. Care of the environment
5. Attention to detail
Matching Shells to Cards
Ages: 2 ½-6
1. Invite the child to the rug.
2. Prepare a tray with a basket of 6-10 different looking seashells with matching picture cards.
3. Carefully bring one shell out at a time, taking time to examine it slowly, and hand to child to do the same. Then place the shells in a column, one at a time on the left side of the rug.
4. Place the matching picture card next to its corresponding shell in order.
5. Pick the cards up in order and allow the child to match the cards to the shell.
6. Next time mix up the order of the cards to provide more of a challenge.
7. Return the shells to the basket as well as the cards.
1. Visual discrimination
2. Appreciation of nature
3. Ability to follow sequenced directions
4. Develops attention span
15 months - 4 years
- Collect an assortment of shells. Some should have similar attributes (color, shape, size) that they can be identified and discriminated by
- Arrange shells in a basket and invite the child to a rug
- Retrieve one shell from the basket and carefully examine it before handing it to the child to do the same. Place on left side of rug.
- Select a shell with a different identifying attribute and examine as before, allowing child to do the same and place to the right of previous shell.
- Continue on in this manner, placing shells that have matching attributes together in a group
- Once all the shells are sorted by size, color, or shape, gently replace the, one at a time to the basket and invite the child to complete the lesson by himself.
- Another day, sort the shells by a different identifier.
- Develops visual discrimination and ability to classify
- Develops concentration
- Attention to detail
- Fine motor and pincer grip essential later for pencil grip
- Stimulating interest and appreciation for nature
Age: 2 ½-6
- To teach the child about rain clouds and precipitation
- Develops fine motor skills via pouring and pincer grip via use of the eye dropper
- Develops focus and attention span as well as ability to follow sequenced directions
- A tray is prepared with a jar of 5-6 cotton balls, one smaller tray or ball, a small jar, a pitcher with water, an eye dropper, a cloth, and a mat for the table.
- Invite the child to learn how to form a rain cloud.
- Place the mat on the table and the other items on top.
- Demonstrate how to form a cloud out of the cotton ball by gently stretching the cotton ball to make it puffy.
- Pour the water from the pitcher into the small jar.
- Holding the cotton ball in one hand over the smaller tray, fill the eye dropper with water and slowly drop water a drop at a time.
- As the cotton ball becomes full, note to the child as it begins to drip and forms “rain.”
- Gently squeeze the rest of the water from the cotton ball into the dish and indicate how much water has accumulated. The child may wish to measure the amount!