Montessori materials for a 9 month old

Sweeping the floorMy little one is turning 10 months in a few days. These are his favorite Montessori activities:

1. Opening and closing boxes
Baby Opening a Box – I stopped at local ACMoore and Michaels and picked up bunch of boxes that are supposed to be painted: circular one, square one, hinged one, etc. Those are his favorites! He can walk around for hours with a box and a lid in his hands opening and closing it back again and again!
– I ordered a few boxes for opening/closing:
Imbucare box:
Box with bins:
I actually ordered from different sites, it was just one of the best images. Check out those pages – there are plenty of things our little ones already can do! The most highly recommended for this age is this is this permanence box:
We just had a similar toy by some other company, that my baby absolutely in love with, so I haven’t tried it.
2. Tearing paper!
– I often offer a few sheets of tissue paper or a plain toilet paper in his “treasure” box. I need to supervise this one very carefully so that he doesn’t eat it…
3. Inserting and removing things:Egg and a Peg
– in both AC Moore and Michaels I found wooden eggs (only an egg holder needs to be purchased for it), a peg and a peg holder, other similar objects that are perfect for the little fingers. Plus, the imbucare boxes from above. I also purchased a few trays and bamboo boards for cutting veggies and food, that fit together, and my husband is gluing/nailing/cutting them to create poker chips throwing board. You could just make the whole wooden project by yourself, some of them don’t look too hard, but our most precious asset is time – we have… absolutely none. So finding less expensive methods to fit things together to speed up material making process is very important for us.
We’ve got an idea from “holly” Nienhuis catalogue ( Take a look: there are really a lot of other great things our little ones can do from there too!
4. Old fashioned wooden ring stacking tree is one of my son’s favorites – he ignores the sizes, but fitting rings on and taking them back off again is another terrific activity that he enjoys.
5. I had a little leather bag left over from some jewelry gift, so for a different tactile experience I added it into his “treasure box”. Inside, I hid a few seashells – yet another interesting texture for him to explore! So far he is not as interested in taking things out, but once he gets a hold of those shells, my son is thrilled.
6. Another old fashioned favorite: stacking/nesting cups. Fitting them into each other and throwing everything back out – is so much fun for him!
7. My son really loves our cupboard kitchen cabinets: apparently, the pots, and the plastic boxes for taking lunch to work provide tons of educational experiences: they can be fitted into each other, or he can spend an incredible amount of time just trying to put a lid onto one of them, they make different interesting sounds. He sees us opening and closing them all the time, and interacting with “real life” objects, has a great appeal to the little ones.
8. One of my son’s favorite toys is a long object permanence box with a drawer:
Object Permanence Box with a drawer
I purchased mine from and we absolutely hated almost every product they’ve sent. For this particular box we had to replace the handle, since it was hard for the little fingers (or even big ones, like mine) to manipulate it.
– opening and closing this drawer is my son’s favorite activity, but once the drawer is out of the box, fitting it back inside is very hard for him and he needs my help. So, whenever I am preparing this material for him, I am usually leaving this box in separate pieces: box, drawer, and a ball next to each other. My little one loves fitting the ball through the opening, watch it roll out, then simply place it into the drawer next to the box, and doing the whole thing all over again.
9. We have a ball tracker for my son and recently he started enjoying fitting the ball through one of the holes and waiting for it to finally fall into the box below.
10. We’ve got some single piece puzzles and he loves circular one
11. My boy is walking, but if yours is not, a pull up bar can be a terrific help for him! We’ve built it for our firstborn a few years ago, and it worked quite well for us. The illustration on the left is purely for demonstration: we either used two bags with sand on both sides to keep it stable (and positioned it in front of the mirror), or used to slide one side under the sofa, to add more surfaces for interesting objects.
12. Scarf. Peekaboo, pulling and pushing, and playing “Give this to mommy, here, have it back” – never loose their appeal.
13. Practical life activities: washing hands (yep, he loves rubbing his two hands together pretending to wash them!), sweeping, dusting, even vacuum cleaning. These activities are rather destructive at this point, but he tries so hard! I need to get another floor mop from the supermarket: I have a tall one for myself, another one with one of the sections removed for my older son and now, apparently, I need a small one with only one section left for my little one! So far, he never misses an opportunity to “help” with some housework: threw all the folded laundry out of a basket, mouth the vacuum cleaner, spill water all over the floor, drag the mop behind himself…

aaaah… I think these are our favorites. I am sure you’ve already discovered many of these yourself and many more. Please share whatever your favorite ones!

  1. Excellent article! It gave me some ideas I will be using right away with my boys.

    You mentioned getting a mop for your 10-month-old. What about buying a toilet brush? Not one with the stiff bristles, but one that has soft yarn-like material. It’s just a thought, since I understand that time is often the most valuable resource!

  2. Toilet brush – that’s an interesting idea! While I love how much my little ones are involved in the house work (it is hard to describe how much they cherish vacuum cleaning, unloading the dishwasher, loading and sorting laundry, washing the floors, etc. – pure fun for them!) – I am not completely comfortable with a 1 year old and a 4 year old scrubbing the toilet. I am a bit worried that scrubbing will turn into bathing waaaay too quickly.

    We do have a toy plunge and they are allowed to use it in a bathtub or a sink, but we have a deal that they have to grow up a little more to be able to dunk it in a toilet.

    Nevertheless some things are unavoidable: just the other week my four year old locked himself in a bathroom and… happily washed the floor with a toilet brush. It’s not like he doesn’t know what he should use for washing the floors (he has his own belowed mop) or what is toilet brush for… but combining the two probably seemed like an attractive idea at the moment.

    So, for now, we keep the toilet cleaning job to ourselves (and I guess by the time they’ll be old enough to do it, they wouldn’t be interested… not fair, isn’t it?).

  3. LOL!!! Actually, I meant that the yarn-style toilet brushes look almost exactly like a mop for a little person! I agree. Let’s keep the toilet cleaning to grown-ups!

  4. Interesting idea! I haven’t seen those before, but I’ll definitely check it out! I just bought three swiffer mops and put together for everyone: the biggest for myself, just a few parts of the handle for the older one and just two parts of the handle for the one year old. Most of the time this arrangement works for everyone. Sometimes my little one revolts and demands great rights – and a greater mop… then I am the one with a tiny mop, and my persistent Mr. Smiles is pushing a long handle in front of him.

  5. I love your ideas and the fact your 7 month old is walking! My 6.5 month old is crawling and pulling himself up but we don’t have much that’s safe for this. I like your idea of a homemade bar, do you still have it that you could send me a picture? My husband is very visible and not a handyman, I sure don’t want to spend $200 on the Michael Olaf one… Thank you!

  6. Hi,
    I have a question! I am trying to do Montessori with my 10 months old son (we started a few weeks ago) but he is not interested in any of that stuff. He does not put the ball into the permanence box, he doesn’t open ou close boxes, he doesn’t give back an object when I ask him, he doesn’t understand the principle of stalking/nesting cups or cubes, doesn’t understand the puzzle principle nor the rings (well, he does take the rings out but doesn’t put it back). So… I am a little concerned! I feel he is behind in terms of development and I don’t want to think this way when he is really just a baby… but, I am still concerned! What do you think? What should I do??

  7. That must be frustrating… To make you feel better, my kids were never too deeply into puzzles. Formal Montessori usually starts around 3-6, I believe… Very few Montessori schools usually have programs designed for the little ones. Yet they exist, and we can all benefit from it: there are materials to try, there everyday living principles that can be adopted early, all other Montessori benefits. Could it be that your son is too little? Or may be modeling it could help? Usually, when I am spending “Montessori” time with my son, I just sit next to him, pull projects from the shelf and do it myself, without talking or trying to push it onto him (pushing never works with my second boy)… in school they see other kids doing this work and it attracts their attention. With my own kids I always felt the lack of other kids to copy was a great disadvantage, so occasionally we meet with a few other moms for an hour or two of “Montessori together” time: it really works great, because my own son instantly becomes interested in everything that his friend is touching or doing, even if I showed it to him before a thousand times with no spark of interest. The downside of other kids, is that they also might not be interested in doing any of the Montessori projects. But my own son is so used to this “work time together”, that as soon as his friend comes through the door, he runs off to the shelves with puzzles, that I couldn’t previously attract his attention to at all!

    I also would try pay attention to what kind of things your son likes, and try to elaborate on that: may be placing lids on pans is more fun than opening a strange box? Or learning to open and close the door of the kitchen cabinet? Banging? Rolling? Pulling? Pushing? There is an enriching Montessori (or not – it doesn’t have to be always strict Montessori!) activity pretty much for mastering every skill.

  8. Thank you for this great post! My daughter just turned 9 months and I am on the look for things to do with her. She has a lot of thirst for knowledge and I sometime feel that I could do more with her. You have given me some great ideas.

  9. I found your article very informing. We just started Montessori with our son at 6 months. Not knowing all the information at that time, we introduced the egg and cup at around 7 months. He seemed fascinated but never really tried. Now at 9 months he just wants to suck on it or bang it. We feel we introduced it too soon. Any suggestions? We are concerned of regression in this area.

  10. This was really, really helpful. My son is a bit of a late bloomer and I was looking for activities for him at 13 months, and these are all perfect ideas – some we already do, others I hadn’t thought of. I appreciate that you took the time to put this together!