Do you wonder what learning activities to put on the shelves for your 2½ year old? In case you might find it helpful, I’ll show you what’s on the shelves in my living room for my 2½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey. Like most Montessori homes, mine is always a work in progress. My shelves change according to Zoey’s needs and interests.
So the shelves I’m showing you today may not be the same tomorrow. That’s okay. I don’t want you to think that these are what should be on your toddler shelves. If something is helpful for you, that’s awesome. But I hope you feel comfortable in going with your own child’s needs and interests.
Of course, these activities can be used for a variety of ages. My granddaughter is 2½, but some of the activities work for younger children and others for older children. As long as you’re meeting your child’s needs and interests, that’s perfect. Age really doesn’t matter.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (at no cost to you).
How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2½ Year Old – YouTube Video
What’s on My Montessori Shelves for a 2½ Year Old
Here are Zoey’s shelves at age 2½. If you’re interested in a particular activity below, just click on the link. It’ll go to a blog post or resource with more details.
These are Zoey’s shelves in the spring set up with a car theme. I typically have a few seasonal or holiday activities on the shelves, so the nature tray and seashell tray reflect spring in San Diego.
Between a comfortable armchair for reading together and Zoey’s shelves is a Montessori book basket that we use instead of a book shelf. We have a few of these in our home. In case you’re wondering, I have a post with some of our favorite Montessori-friendly books for a 2 year old.
A Montessori school generally has a shelf for each curriculum area. Because I only have two shelving units in my living room, I use one for practical life, language, and cultural activities. Many of the cultural activities include language activities in them. The materials aren’t organized by curriculum area on a specific shelf, though. That’s more a matter of which tray fits better on a particular shelf. Organize your shelves in whatever way works best for you, too.
Top shelf in the practical life, language, and cultural area:
- Pocket Hugg-a-Planet Earth and Moon
- Montessori nature tray (we’ve had a few that we change out for interest and to study new concepts)
- Seashell activity from Shells and Starfish Toolbox from Montessori By Mom
- a window washing tray (recently, I added a Montessori Services squeegee, which Zoey loves)
- split pea pouring (I usually have a dry or wet pouring activity on the shelf for this age. It gets used a lot!)
- letter c basket with sandpaper letter c, cursive c from free car printable, and cursive c from free car printable
- car-themed letter c sand tray
Top shelf in the educational toys, sensorial, and math area:
- Russian nesting dolls (that we had when my kids were little
- car color match
- sandpaper numerals with car number roads (free printable)
Bottom shelf in the educational toys, sensorial, and math areas:
Note: I often have a Montessori-inspired playdough tray on one of these shelves as well. That’s a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers.
Because Zoey will be attending a Montessori school starting in the fall of 2016, I don’t want her to spend too much time with classic Montessori materials outside of school. Even though I have some Montessori materials, I want those specific activities saved mainly for her school times. (Note: if your child attends or will attend a Montessori school, you don’t need to buy any classic Montessori materials. In fact, it’s recommended that you don’t.) If you have a Montessori homeschool, you’ll want to buy Montessori materials and/or make your own Montessori materials.
So, I keep the Montessori materials in my office where Zoey spends limited time each week. I have them next to my cabinet of Spielgaben materials, which I use for preparing Montessori-inspired activities.
Here are some Montessori materials that could be good for your 2½ year old:
- pink tower (upstairs between my two shelves right now), brown stair, and red rods
- cylinder blocks and colored cylinders (full size)
- red, blue, and yellow color tablets (color box 1). Add more colors as your child is ready for them. I like these DIY color tablets using a Montessori Print Shop printable for introducing colors to a young child whether or not the child will be attending a Montessori school.
- Mystery bag (I have one from the Montessori By Mom Building and Blocks toolbox)
- Binomial cube
- DIY or inexpensive sound cylinders (mine are from the Montessori By Mom Making Music toolbox)
Even though these aren’t shelves, they make up an important area for Zoey. In addition to her snack and meal table (and work area) with flower arranging activity, she has a Melissa & Doug cleaning set and a bucket for big spills. Next to that is her Little Partners Learning Tower with easel. When we want to do a food preparation activity, I simply move the Learning Tower into the kitchen.
Zoey’s home environment also has Montessori-friendly shelves, although with more toys than educational materials.
Preparing Montessori Spaces in Your Home
See “How to Create a Montessori-Friendly Home” for ideas for a number of levels. Here are some of my main home environment posts:
- How to Prepare a Montessori Baby Room at Home (roundup post)
- How to Prepare a Montessori Toddler Environment at Home (roundup post)
- Preparing a Montessori Newborn Baby Space at Home
- How to Use Montessori Mobiles to Encourage a Newborn Baby’s Development and Delight
- Preparing a Montessori Baby Space in Your Living Room
- Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home
- Preparing Montessori Toddler Spaces at Home
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 4 Year Old
- How to Prepare a Montessori Home Environment for Afterschooling
- Create an Attractive Home Environment from Montessori at Home!
- How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom
Jo Ebisujima and I have a free Montessori at home webinar and introduction to our Montessori Crash Course.
I’d love to hear how you use Montessori shelves in your home!
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