Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Toddler 'curriculum' planning

I have really hesitated about whether or not to post this because I really don't like the phrase 'curriculum planning' for a toddler (18 months to 3 years) and I certainly don't plan on developing a study program for Freddy (21 months) just yet.  But, what I do want to do is develop a general plan of activities and areas of focus for us over the next 12 months or so until he is approaching 3 years old so that we can have a bit of structure to our days (for me as well as him).  I also want to have a general plan so that I don't just go making him felt animals for the next year (which I could happily do).

I have found reading this kind of post on other blogs so useful to think about new things that I can do with Freddy that I thought it was worthwhile sharing.

Montessori once said:
"But the children seemed to demand some conclusion of the exercises, which had already developed them intellectually in a most surprising way. They knew how to dress and undress, and to bathe themselves; they knew how to sweep the floors, dust the furniture, put the room in order, to open and close boxes, to manage the keys in the various locks; they could replace the objects in the cupboards in perfect order, could care for the plants; they knew how to observe things, and how to see objects with their hands. A number of them came to us and frankly demanded to be taught to read and write. Even in the face of our refusal several children came to school and proudly showed us that they knew how to make an O on the blackboard."
You can see from the quote above that it is through the early practical life exercises that children develop their hunger for learning and build a self confidence that allows them to develop into well rounded individuals.  I have definitely observed  this myself even with the small number of practical life activities that I have tried with Freddy: he really is so proud when he realises that he can do something for himself.

My aims for this coming year are therefore to:
  • Spend lots of time as a family enjoying nature and each other
  • Follow a basic Montessori activity plan (mine is at the bottom of this post)
  • Continue with lots of arts and crafts projects (I'm starting a local toddler art club in a few months so I will let you know how that goes!) and musical experiences (we currently attend a weekly music group)
  • Follow Freddy's interests and find appropriate activities to feed his hunger for learning
  • Help him to do as much for himself as possible

So here goes....

First I should tell you that the inspiration for this list has come from many sources including:
  • The book 'Montessori From the Start' by Lynn Lillard Jessen and Paula Polk Lillard which is the best Montessori book that I have read for preparing the environment, introduction to Montessori and activities for the under 3's.  I don't agree with everything in this book (notably early weaning) but that aside it's fabulous.
  • The catalogue 'The Joyful Child' from Michael Olaf which is also available to view online.
  • The amazing Montessori at Home downloadable activity book packed with Montessori activities for preschoolers (from 2 to 7 years).  I bought this for nearly $8 and cannot believe what great value for money it is.
  • The Toddler Comprehensive List available for download from Montessori for Everyone and gives a good overview of activities to try with toddlers.  I paid $4.99 for this list and felt that it was good value for money especially as there is little advice available online that is targeted at the under 3s.   There is also this great article on the same site that gives advice for keeping toddlers interested in activities.
  • And the last but by far the most important source of inspiration comes from Freddy himself and the things that he enjoys most.

I haven't included any Montessori albums as they usually start from age 3.  I will use these for developing a curriculum when I plan later activities.  The list below is aimed at the age range of 18 months to 3 years.

Practical Life
  • Fine Motor Skills such as manipulative work with hands
  • Gross motor skills like whole body movements
  • Care of self activities like brushing teeth and getting dressed
  • Control of movement such as walking on a line and carrying objects
  • Care of the environment like cleaning and looking after plants
  • Food Preparation and kitchen tasks
  • Sorting and catagorising activities
  • Grace and Courtesy such as saying please and thank you

  • Cylinder Blocks
  • Coloured Cylinders
  • Knobless Cylinders
  • Preparation for the Decimal System including the Pink Tower, Broad Stair and Red Rods
  • Geometric Cabinet and introduction to shapes
  • Learning about the senses including learning about colours

  • Counting up to 10
  • Number and quantity recognition
  • Stacking blocks like the Pink Tower

  • Separation and catagorisation based on names i.e. name and picture matching
  • Concept development like opposites 
  • Lots of storytime and reading
  • Reading and talking about books
  • Vocabulary development in everyday life activities i.e. body parts, left and right, seasons etc

  • Learning about animals
  • Caring for animals

  • Learning about plants and nature
  • Caring for plants

  • Talking about the past
  • Expressions of time such as seasons, day and night etc

  • Land and water
  • Knowledge about the countries in which we live (UK, France, Sweden)

Art and craft
  • All things art and craft!

Music and dance
  • Instruments, singing and dancing

For each section I have been collecting a detailed list of activities based on things I have seen on the internet or read in books and I will be selecting what order to do the activities in based purely on Freddy's lead.

I will also definitely be using the list of practical life exercises that I found on Montessori Mom (there is so much on that site).

Did I miss anything?  Do you have any ideas?


  1. Du är imponerande strukturerad kära svägerska!

  2. Ha! Yes it's not normal for me but I am trying it out. Perhaps there will be a job for me in your school afterwards? xx

  3. Ja, som textil- och bildlärare!


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