Montessori at Home with 12 month Old | Our Experiences

Inside: Montessori at home with a 12 month old. What it looks like from a realistic home, and what Montessori toys we have on our Montessori shelf for 1 year old. I also share what practical life skills with 12 month old looks like for us, and what outdoor play includes.

montessori 12 month old
  • Save

(This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission your purchase at no cost to you. Feel free to check disclosure for more info! )

Montessori at Home with 12 Month Old

Life at home with a 12 month old is pretty busy!

Our little fella is ready to really explore as much as he can all day long.

Following Montessori has actually made parenting heaps easier! It’s taken all the guesswork out of things and given us the tools to parent in a way that is effective and great for the long term.

Using the Montessori Toddler book ( AMAZING! ) and inspiration from other Montessori at home families has allowed us to create a routine and play area for our 1 year old to learn and grow.

  • Save

Are you New to Montessori?

The general principles of living a Montessori inspired life at home is to:


Recognize your child’s abilities, interests and what they do not show interest in.

Prepare the Environment

Once you are aware of your child you can prepare their environment to follow their interests and abilities.

Are their toys & materials easily accessible to them? Making sure they have a low shelf for toys allows them more independence to get and pack away their materials/

Are they walking and climbing already? It might be a good time to look into stools for the bathroom sink and a learning tower for the kitchen.

Can they select their clothes? Now is a great age to begin allowing choice from selected clothing from a child-sized wardrobe or dresser drawers.

Can they get to meals independently? Having a child sized table and chair is a great thing to have for meals and activities to give them opportunity to start practical life skills.

Montessori 12 month old sitting on floor with object permanence box in front of Montessori child sized couch that is dark blue with white grid stripes.
  • Save

These are just some starting points to think about if you are beginning your journey. Read below to see how we incorporated these into our daily life doing Montessori at home with a 1 year old.

Montessori Shelf at 12 Months

Montessori shelf for 12 month old with Montessori toys on it.
  • Save

This is what our Montessori inspired shelf looked like for our 12 month old.

Notice how the activities that have pieces are separated and ready for him to put together?

That is a big part of setting up a Montessori activity, leaving it ready for them to assemble.

If you already have it “together” then it does not encourage them to “do” the activity, as it already looks “done”. Such as the box activity above.

Normally I would have it set-up as below, so that he can sort the colors into the coordinated box.

Montessori toy for 12 month old that is red, yellow, and blue sorting box.
  • Save

A Montessori shelf at 1 year old can look a bit different for each child, as they might have different interests or abilities.

There is a lot of flexibility at this young age, so use this as inspiration and adjust to suit your family and your 1 year old when doing Montessori at home.

Here are some activities your 12 month old may enjoy:

  • Reading
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • Climbing
  • Blocks
  • Sand Play
  • Play Doh
  • Dowel & Pegs
  • Ball & Box
  • Vocab Baskets
  • Using Open/Close Items
  • Transferring Materials
  • Washing & Wiping
  • Knob Puzzles
  • Point & Make Matching Sound
  • Musical Materials

Montessori Toys for 12 Month Old

I started with trying to DIY and pick out toys here and there that I thought would suit, which is how above shelf was created .

Montessori toys for 12 month old including object permanence box, horizontal dowel, hammer and peg toy, stacking rings, open/close boxes, 3 color rings and dowels.
  • Save

Later, I discovered there were much easier options that I wish I would have found earlier.

Lovevery was one of those resources I wish I found earlier which would have saved me money in the long run instead of buying everything individually (and paying shipping individually).

Though, little fella enjoyed what we did find and spent lots of time on his “work”, so either way of acquiring materials can work perfectly fine!

It’s just easier, especially with a firstborn, to have access to a something like Lovevery which provides materials and guided information for parents on how to model and use them.

Then save those materials for future siblings.

I am all about longevity of a toy/material to make it budget worthy.

The Toys/work we used at this stage:

Montessori Box with Bins

  • Save
  • Save

This has been a great for exploring color sorting for different shapes and objects.

I rotate the items that go inside so that he associates different items being those colors.

Sometimes I leave them inside for him to open and discover, other times the objects are out and he sorts them into colored bins.

Hammer & Pegs

  • Save
  • Save

A huge favorite! The hammer and pegs is great for hand eye coordination.

If your child is wanting to “bang” or “hit” things, this activity also allows them to fulfill that need.

I have an article all about the uses behind hammering toys.

Horizontal Dowel

  • Save

This was introduced earlier than 12 months, as we got it in a mixed bundle of Montessori toys second hand.

I was so impressed by how intrigued he was by the challenge of the horizontal dowel.

It kept him focused for long periods when he was first learning to use it.

Montessori 3 Colored Dowels Stacker

  • Save
  • Save

This stacker is the newest addition.

We have begun working on saying the colors while stacking them, thus associating the word with the visual item.

Hand Drum

  • Save
  • Save

Another great activity for fulfilling the need to “hit” or “bang” something.

We use this and the maraca when we want to be musical.

I leave both out because depending on his mood he will go for different musical item.

Wooden Shaker

  • Save

Who doesn’t like to shake, rattle, and roll?!

This brings true joy to his face when he is really in the mood for shaking and dancing. We have rotated wooden shaker in and out many times through his development.

Definitely a toy that grows with the child and serves different purposes with time.

Rainbow Stacker

  • Save
  • Save

Another stacker that was introduced earlier than 12 months, but he still enjoys completing the activity and working on it.

Thus, I keep it out. It is all about following the child.

Board Books

  • Save
  • Save

We rotate different board books in and out of this area each week next to his couch.

Being a rough toddler, board books or fabric books are great options for allowing him to read books himself with less chance of damage.

Montessori promotes using books with “realistic” images inside. This helps teach your child what an item/person/animals really looks like. It is up to you in this realm.

I still have a few childhood favorites on the bigger shelf that I enjoy reading and sharing with our little fella.

With 1 exception, all these Montessori toys are under $20. There are also many ways you can DIY some of these activities with household items if you check out Pinterest!

If you want inspiration for other toys you can use on your 12 month old’s shelf for toy rotation The Kavanaugh Report has a list of options for 12 – 14 month olds.

Where to get materials?

If you are struggling to find specific materials for your shelf at home, For Small Hands has a great affordable assortment of Montessori materials for your shelf as well as practical life.

Pitchers, transferring utensils, trays, washing/cleaning materials, etc… If there is something specific you are struggling to find, have a look and see.

I know certain items can be difficult to find in child-size.

Good Buy Gear

Looking for Montessori specific items, but need a more budget friendly option?

Check out Good Buy Gear second hand shop, they often have many Montessori aligned items.

Lovery & MontiKids

These are both great options for Montessori aligned toys.

Lovery is a bit more on the affordable side and has great options for making a one-stop-shop for getting toy items that are aligned with your baby’s age.

Being 12 months old is right in between two kit options, The Thinker Kit and The Babbler Toddler Kit.

Between the two, I recommend The Babbler Kit as it will grow with your child for the few months after turning 1, as well as the versatility of the materials in that you can use a few to create other activities.

Montikids is a fantastic option that is Montessori specialized with the materials in their boxes, but it does take a bit more of the budget. At 12 months old their Level 4 Montessori Box offers a great collection of shelf work and include parent education video lessons to assist you in introducing these materials to your child.

Montikids level 4 toys for montessori at home with 12 month old
  • Save

They are both researched based companies that carefully select materials to introduce at particular ages and provide materials for you as parent to assist you with using these materials at home.

Lovery in Australia?

To my fellow Australia friends, Guess What? Monti&Me is our version of boxes like Lovevery!

This is SUPER exciting news for those who have always wanted to try it out.

Jump over to Monti&Me and have a look at their playkits.

Montessori Activities 12 Month Old

12 month old in yellow shirt and brown pants putting wooden grey & yellow cars on tracking toy.
  • Save

Montessori activities for 12 month old can be specific work from their shelf with materials like above, practical life skills activities, outdoor Montessori inspired activities, or you can do a mix.

DIY Montessori activities a 12 month old might like:

  • Handing You Laundry
  • Wiping Windows
  • Watering Plants
  • Washing Veggies
  • Singing Songs
  • Sock Bean Bag Toss
  • Kicking Ball
  • Rolling ball
  • Climbing Cushions
  • Washing Toys
  • Water Brush Painting
Montessori activities 12 month old and 2 year old washing garden carrots in green washtub in backyard with scrubbrush.
  • Save
2 yr old & 12 month old washing garden carrots

These are just some ideas you can pull from to get inspiration of Montessori aligned activities for home.

My 2nd born LOVES the soccer ball at 12 months. He enjoys kicking while dog follows, or he will pick it up and throw it then cackle with laughter. He ends up repeating this cycle many times.

  • Save

Prepare some and see if your child shows interest, if they do then explore that interest further with more opportunities to do the activity to allow them to work on mastering it or find similar activities to explore the interest further.

To clarify the “read and make matching sounds”, if you are reading a animal book you can point and make animal sound that suits. Then, in time see if your child will also make the sound when they see that animal image. Same can go for trucks and trains type books.

Practical Life Skills with 12 Month Old

practical life skills shopping with a 12 month old.
  • Save

I must say I love stores that have shopping carts for kids, they make shopping trips much more of a learning opportunity.

The hardware store we go to is the only store that has them available near us.

We have a great time letting the little fella push all the small items we are getting.

Other practical life activities we do at home at 12 months old include:

  • Handing me the silverware from dishwasher
  • “Dusting” with a feather duster
  • “Wiping” table, fridge, and window
  • Handing me socks from laundry
  • Brush hair
  • Use toothbrush
  • Holding Hose to Water Trees
  • Pouring Cup of Dog Food in Bowl
  • Pushing Chairs Back In

These activities will vary depending on your own child’s abilities, so don’t stress about ones they aren’t up to yet.

Practical life skills Montessori 1 year old using duster on top of short white bookcase.
  • Save

Our little fella started walking at 10 months, so at 12 months he was able to do things like carry items.

If your child isn’t walking yet that is totally fine, just adjust to giving them opportunities within their capabilities.

They will often just be excited that they are able to help and do an activity with you. Sitting and handing you socks is just as good as standing and handing you socks.

I will also add that activities such as brushing his own hair and teeth are done at a basic level, and usually I have to “have a turn” to make sure self care task is done completely.

If you are looking in to starting a Montessori toddler closet you can see our journey of using different Montessori toddler closet styles and where we finally decided on an IKEA Pax hack that will give us long term use.

If you live in Australia, check out these Bunnings shelves for Montessori closet if you want something under $50.

Starting the skill of dressing themselves is one of the most fun independent skills you can guide them through.

Meal Times with 12 Month Old

weaning table with 12 month old
  • Save

Meal times a weaning table is still used with plate and cutlery. He can seat himself and eat comfortably since everything is at his size.

Often during Breakfast and Lunch I sit with him at his weaning table and eat with him.

12 month old boy drinking from white weaning cup at a wooden Montessori weaning table and chair.
  • Save
2nd child now using weaning table at 12 months

We still use weaning cup that we introduced at 6 months old. Also, our 2nd born is now 12 months and uses this table as well.

I have written more about Montessori weaning table and Montessori Alternatives to weaning table (Montessori aligned high chairs) if you are interested.

Related Post : How We Made our Montessori Weaning Table

Outdoor Play with 12 Month Old

outdoor montessori 1 year old playing in the backyard with gardn and chickens
  • Save

Outdoor play is essential for early childhood and for our own parenting sanity. Can’t make much mess outside.

Ways to include your toddler in practical life outside are:

  • Gardening
  • Weeding
  • Watering
  • Feeding Pets
  • Collecting Eggs (yep, no broken eggs!)
  • and More!

Our little fella loves to help water the garden and help out with whatever tasks we need to do in the backyard.

We have found ways that we can include him in many of those activities.

When I need to water the plants around the yard I allow him to hold the hose for certain plants, such as the trees.

Many of the chicken chores he is a bit too young to help with at the moment, as things are either too heavy or not at the right height.

Though, we allow him the task of carrying an egg to the kitchen with us and putting it into the egg carton.

He only broke an egg once when he tripped and fell while walking (he’s now 2).

Toddlers can really surprise you with what they are capable of if you give them the chance!

Related Post: Fun Outdoor Play Area with 1 Year Old

Outdoor play can include many fun activities that are budget friendly!

  • Bubbles
  • Water Painting (water + paintbrush)
  • Leaf collecting
  • Sandbox
  • Ball Play
  • Mower
  • and more!

Going on Walks With 12 Month Old

I also began practicing going on walks with the lil fella at this time.

I say “practicing” because we didn’t get very far in the early weeks. We only got to the neighbors house most mornings.

He would hold my hand and we would go together past the driveway and down the sidewalk or across the road.

Montessori 12 month old walking holding mum's hand in a park
  • Save

He would explore any flowers, rocks, fence, and anything else along the way. One morning there was a chicken that got out of the neighbors yard. Lil fella thought it was a great day!

Our morning walks each morning were a great activity to practice hand holding while on walks and get outside.

I can tell you within a month or so we were able to go on family walks every day for about 2 blocks. He even walks the dog ( small Jack Russel ) by himself at the same time.

Yep, a 1 year old is capable on going on long walks with the family if you give them the chance and use patience.

That’s Our Life!

That’s our busy little life doing Montessori with a 12 month old.

Each day is filled with many practical life activities, some time for Montessori shelf “work” , and LOTS of outdoor time.

He thrives being outdoors, so that is where we spend the most time.

Hope you have found this helpful for your family, and if you have any queries or ideas you wish to share with others just write them below!

Montessori at Home with 1 Year Old

  • Save

2 thoughts on “Montessori at Home with 12 month Old | Our Experiences”

  1. This such a great post on how to get 1 year old involved in life. So often I see my nieces and nephews being “babied” all the time and restricting them. I can’t believe he carries the eggs to the kitchen!

  2. Thank you for providing examples. I have found it hard to figure out when to introduce what toys. I know it depends on the child and their interests, but seeing examples really helps. Will have to look into some of these and see if kiddo seems interested in these Montessori activities.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share via
Copy link