Summer is the best season for Montessori work, in my opinion, especially for toddlers.
All those messy, sensory, and water activities can be taken outside so there's minimal clean up and you can truly let them explore.
Here's our 8 favourite summer Montessori activities that require little or no set up:
1. Work on Care of the Outdoor Environment
You're already working on these practical life activities, just include your child in them.
To do this, simply slow down and demonstrate. This requires a little extra patience but the confidence and satisfaction they get from helping is worth it.
Here's a couple activities that are easy and fun to include them in:
Washing the Car - provide your child with a soft sponge and bucket of soapy water and invite them to help you. This would be especially satisfying for your child when the car is visibly dirty.
Have them help you clean windows, patio furniture, or their own outdoor plastic toys and cars.
Water the plants or lawn - younger children will likely need a child-sized watering can, while an older toddler may be able to maneouver the hose independently and fill up the regular watering can. While this is a chore for most adults, children love maximum effort, full body work. And even if your child only puts little bit of water in can, this makes for more repetition, which is great too!
As mentioned in our spring activities post, your child is likely happy to help with our garden work like raking and pulling weeds, if given a demonstration. Just note that weed pulling is best for older toddlers+ because it can be hard to understand what's a weed and what should be in the garden.
2. Shucking Corn
Corn is in season so invite your child to shuck corn with you. This is great practical life activity to develop fine and gross motor skills.
3. Water Play
Summer is THE time for water play. Make it as simple or complicated as you like.
Set up a bin or bucket, add containers, a funnel, colander, scoops, small plastic toys, bubbles…anything you can thing of.
Get in tons of pouring and water transfer practice without any clean up.
4. Go Camping - In The Backyard!
Katie did a camping theme at her summer camp a few years ago and the children LOVED it.
She set up the tent for the children to play in all day. They learned about all the different equipment needed for camping, which is also great for language development.
This also might be helpful to do prior to a real camping trip so your child knows what to expect.
5. Prepare a Picnic
My four year old is thrilled to eat dinner if I simply bring it into the backyard and put a blanket down! It's a fun way to break up the dinnertime routine.
When preparing your picnic, you can talk about what you need and prepare the food together.
6. Create Outdoor Art
Just like water play, summer is also a great time for art and science experiments because you don't have to stress about the clean up as much.
Fill a bowl or bucket with water and offer your child a paintbrush so they can "paint" the fence, porch, or house with water.
Hang a piece of cardboard on the fence and let your child paint with a brush or do finger paint on the cardboard. My kids love this one! You get the gross motor, fine motor, and sensory experience, all in one.
Make art or hopscotch squares with sidewalk chalk. When you're a toddler, using sidewalk chalk is a great gross motor activity. It's also strengthens the hand in preparation for hand writing.
7. Play With a Ball
This is such a simple and obvious one but you can probably start earlier it than you think. Buy a soft soccer ball and practice rolling, kicking, and throwing to each other. Playing together will not only develop gross motor skills but social skills - turn taking, cooperation, and awareness of others.
Even infants can engage in this play by rolling the ball back and forth to them.
8. Practice Applying Sunscreen
If your toddler does not like to have sunscreen applied, there's a couple tricks you can try to make it a little easier:
Practice at a low stress time, not when you're trying to rush out the door or they're impatiently waiting to get in the pool. Just like most dressing activities, the more low stress practice you can get it, the better.
When applying take your time, give yourself enough time to do it slowly, talk to child about what you’re doing, using simple language explain why we wear it, and invite and encourage them to apply themselves.
Apply it with a brush. Many children that dislike sunscreen, are more tolerant of it when it's applied with a brush. This also makes the activity a little slower, more relaxing, and more mindful.
Practice on baby dolls. Invite your child to apply sunscreen on their plastic doll, either with their hands or a brush.