Two-year-olds have an unfair reputation for being a handful (cue the term “terrible twos”), but their lack of cooperation from our adult perspective is really just them trying to figure out how to become their own unique little person.
If we can step back for a moment and consider how much learning, growing, and developing their minds and bodies are doing, we may find it much easier as parents and caregivers to acknowledge the terrific-ness of our two-year-old. We can help support our little ones by acknowledging and validating their feelings, allowing them opportunities to exert their independence, and providing space for them to explore. Preparing the child’s environment to meet their needs is a great way for us to empower our little ones; providing visually appealing Montessori materials carefully designed for two-year-olds is a great first step in establishing this prepared space!
Here are my picks for the most terrific Montessori toys and activities we know your two-year-old will love:
Toddlers absolutely love being able to do things for themselves. Dressing frames (also known as dressing boards) allow your child to practice the skills needed to dress themselves without the pressure of needing to do so in a hurry when it’s time to leave the house. Your two-year-old will love using these traditional Montessori toys to practice buttoning, zipping, buckling, lacing, snapping, and tying!
Counting Peg Boards are a terrific Montessori toy for two-year-olds! They help improve your child’s fine motor skills, their hand-eye coordination, and their understanding of one-to-one correspondence as they match each peg to its designated space on the board. Your toddler will love learning to count and recognize written numerals with this fun Montessori toy!
Counting Rings are another great Montessori toy that will help your two-year-old develop number sense and one-to-one correspondence. Your little one will love manipulating the rings as they practice their fine motor skills and coordination, placing them on the correct pegs. This work will appeal to a two-year-olds love of order and can even be used as a sorting activity.
Bead Stringing is a great Montessori practical life activity to support your child’s developing fine motor skills. Your two-year-old will develop concentration and focus and when combined with patterning, can even begin early exposure to math concepts!
Tonging is another popular Montessori practical life activity for two-year-olds. Introducing tonging is a great way to build hand strength, develop fine and gross motor skills, and build coordination. Your child will love developing their focus and concentration as they transfer objects from one container to another with these child-sized tongs!
Sound baskets with realistic figurines and cards help a child relate to the world around them and develop meaningful connections. As your little one matches figurines of cats or a figurine of a lion to a picture of a lion, they are not only developing their visual senses, they can also begin practicing identifying and sorting initial sounds of words to prepare them for reading. Two-year-olds are often fascinated by tiny details and small objects making this a popular Montessori activity for children this age.
Two-year-olds love to categorize and sort. Color sorting sets are a great Montessori toy because they help your child with color recognition and visual discrimination. You might choose a material to put on your child’s shelf to encourage this interest or you could DIY an activity yourself, asking your child to find objects in the home environment that match the color of paper you’ve placed in a specific location for them; either way, your two-year-old is sure to love these popular sorting works!
Toddlers are known for their sense of order; they love routine, consistency, and precision–most of the time. A child-sized cleaning set complete with a broom and dustpan, a duster, a mop, and materials needed for washing windows or tables (spray bottle with water, small rag, squeegee, sponge) is sure to be a hit! This Montessori toy is a great second birthday gift that will help develop your child’s sense of autonomy and allow them to feel like a capable, valuable contributor to the family and the household.
Young children love a sense of order and are drawn to beauty in nature making flower arranging a great Montessori activity for 2-year-olds. Your little one will enjoy filling a small jug with water, pouring it into the vase, and placing each flower into the vase with the water. This activity allows them to develop concentration and coordination while developing their fine motor skills and their five senses. You never know, flower arranging could be the start of preparing your two-year-old to later become a botanist!
A balance board is a Montessori-aligned toy designed to help young children practice coordinated movement. These fun boards will help your two-year-old improve their posture and develop core strength as they practice balancing and exploring the cause and effect of their movements. Two-year-olds can even use this fun Montessori toy to practice stretching into yoga-like positions with you!
A balance bike is a small-frame bicycle without pedals or training wheels that makes a perfect Montessori birthday gift for a two-year-old! A young child is able to sit on the saddle and push off with their feet to move themselves forward. As your toddler gains confidence, they can push themselves faster and can gain enough speed to lift up their feet and coast along as they practice balancing on the bike. This is sure to be a favorite toy for two-year-olds who love movement and risky play!
Image by Jordan Sanchez
Although not a traditional Montessori material, stepping stones are a great toy to promote your child’s gross motor development. Your little one will be infatuated with jumping and hopping from one stone to another as they practice their balancing skills. These exciting toys can be used inside or outside and are great for encouraging your child’s love of movement.
A two-year-old is naturally curious and excited about the world around them. They are eager to develop their own perspective and to assert their independence. These 12 terrific Montessori toys and activities for two-year-olds will help promote your little one’s learning and growth, encouraging and inspiring them to continue developing their own self-concept as they explore their world and all it has to offer.