Montessori Toddler Activities for Beginners – Shopping List Under $200

I should start off by saying I am an AMATEUR when it comes to Montessori! I have ZERO formal training in it, but have done some research! My hope is to incorporate simple Montessori activities in our home school/playroom for my younger 2 kiddos (ages 2 and 4) to give me some time to home school our oldest (she’s 6)!

There are so many families that will be learning from home this year, and I hope to share whatever resources and activities that are helping for us! This is our second year of home school, and I honestly feel like our first year was an ABSOLUTE FAILURE!!! I could never get in a good routine… when do we “do school?” “WHERE do we learn?” “what the heck do I do with the younger, non-school aged kiddos while I’m trying to home school our oldest?” “how often do we sit down to do school and for how long?”

We just never really figured it out… and I feel like I gave up half-way through the school year. To be completely honest, I kind of just chalked homeschooling up to “not for us” and we planned to enroll Piper in traditional school this fall.


…And we just really didn’t want the way school looks this year to be Piper’s first impression of “school.”

So here we are, homeschooling again! And I’m determined to make this year more successful than last!

The first hurdle I decided to focus on was: How do I engage my 2 year old and 4 year old while trying to do focused work with my 6 year old who is now in 1st grade?

That’s what led me to Montessori! I love the “work” and life-skills activities which typically come in the form of a tray or basket. I researched some specific trays I thought would be good and landed on these ideas:

  1. Watercolor Tray

2. Beading/sorting Tray

3. Numbers + felt ball tray

4. Chopping Life Skills Activity

5. Window Washing Activity

6. Screwdriver – Fine Motor Skills Tray

7. Animal Habitat Tray

My goal was to keep all of the supplies we used under $200, so these were the things I ordered below.


I wanted to keep all of the items as flexible/adaptable as possible. I ordered a lot of inexpensive wooden squares and stamped them with rubber number stamps I had creating numbers 0-10. You could use a permanent marker or paint pen if you don’t have stamps! We’ve used these numbered squares a ton with the felt balls in order to do some math/number activities. I use the symbols from the Tetris style puzzle from Amazon to make + – = signs!

For the animals tray, I ordered the Melissa and Doug magnetic set (see Amazon shopping list) and I’ve used this in multiple ways. I will read a book with animal characters and let the kids act them out with the magnets on our fridge or metal bookshelf. We’ve also created a “farm” habitat in one of the wooden trays using grass, rocks, and dirt from outside. The kids have to decide which animal would live in each environment (ie: pig would be placed in the dirt, or the horse in the grass, etc).

My hope is to keep adding to this beginner Montessori “work” area but I really wanted to get a feel for what my kids engaged with, and what they didn’t really like to play with for long!

Feel free to follow my Instagram for more updates and real-time ideas! @Ashduhammy

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