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Montessori activities for 18 to 21 months

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Posted October 26, 2020

Article by The Montessori Notebook. Image by Royalty Free Image.

I don’t know about you, but the older my children got the more excited I was for all the new things they were discovering. I don’t know if I have an absolute favorite age, but around 18 months would come close for me.

They are working hard to master:

1. Eye-hand coordination – they are getting more accurate with their hand movements, the pincer is more controlled, and they may begin sorting objects by color (although it may be some time before they are able to name the colors – no need to keep testing them, we can simply give the names again and again).

2. Language – their language often starts exploding around 18 months. Single-word vocabulary grows in number and they may start to put two words together to make a short sentence “mama go” as mama is leaving, or “more swing” if they don’t want to stop on the swing. We can continue to give them rich language, real names of everything around them, perhaps have some classified language baskets, look into their eyes when we listen to them and allow them time to talk, read books, sings songs, and simple poetry can also be introduced.

3. Gross motor movement – Once they are walking steadily, we’ll see them looking for new challenges. Climbing, running and maximum effort become important. Maximum effort is when children like to carry the heaviest objects they can find. Do you have some heavy shopping to carry? Some cans or heavy bottles?

4. Practical life activities – we can continue to offer simple one-step activities like pouring a glass of water or wiping a spill. And add more steps as they gain mastery.

5. Social development – still largely doing parallel play with children of the same age, they are becoming more aware of others around them, and enjoy collaborating with us at home.

6. Order – knowing where things are and what comes next becomes super important around 18 months old. So if we haven’t already, we can set up a shelf for their activities in trays and baskets, a place to hang their bag and coat by the entrance, and a place for everything (with everything in its place). Regular daily rhythms give our 18 – 21-month-olds a feeling of security and safety.

7. Repetition – when they find the activity they are working to master, they’ll repeat again and again.

Here are 6 of my favorite Montessori activities for these 18 to 21-month-olds. Remember that the ages here are to give guidelines only – we can observe so we can follow our own child and their interests.

Stack and sort board (similar here) – It’s not about the numbers here. The children love to place the rings onto the pegs and might begin to sort the rings by color.

Posting box (this one from MontiKids) – Toddlers love posting objects into smaller and smaller slots. I love my coin box but this is a lovely alternative. The lid is easy for them to remove and replace so they can repeat again and again.

Ball hammering (this one by Melissa & Doug) – Ball hammering can be used for younger babies. This one is harder to hammer the balls through so is suitable for young toddlers. Gives them practice at hammering and using their larger movements. Offers a lot of opportunity for repetition too.

Opening and closing activity – Honestly I could (and probably will) include this for most toddler age groups. I love that they are working their hands to manipulate the smallest fastenings from a zipper to a snap etc. By changing the purses from time to time and hiding new objects inside they delight in finding what’s inside.

Nuts and bolts (similar here) – There are different types of nuts and bolts activities available but this simple wooden one is great for young toddlers.


1. For an 18 to 21-month-old, we can keep the nut on the bolt for them to be able to unscrew it. It can be too hard for them to screw it on independently. 2. When showing them how to turn the bolt, slow down, don’t talk, say “look” then break your movements into very slow steps, eg, placing fingers on, turning them halfway, lifting fingers up, replacing them on the bolt to repeat.

Colour sorting – I’m really excited for the toddlers to try this new sorting set from Plan Toys. The quality is so beautiful and having the bowls match the colors exactly will make sorting easier for young toddlers. The set has five colors but I have simplified it for the primary colors. We can add more colors and more coins as they gain skill with sorting. Wanting more activities?

Check back for more activities by age coming soon. You can also download a free 42-page pdf of Montessori activities by age (0 to 4 years) from my website.


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