Art is truly a personal expression of the creative, inner self. Rather than forcing children to copy a particular model or mode in the art area, the stage is set for children to release and express their creativity by supplying the appropriate materials and demonstrating the use of the various instruments used in art activities. Art for toddlers is most definitely process-oriented as opposed to product oriented. Art activities are simple, exploratory, and fun.
Maria Montessori recognized that at about the age of two, a child's speech undergoes an explosion of words. Shortly after, a similar burst into sentences occurs. From age two and one half on, much of the child's task is the refinement and enrichment of language, on the road to writing and reading.
The Montessori math exercises help prepare the "mathematical mind." Oral counting games and other concrete materials expose the toddlers to the world of numbers. This work also encourages the development of important pre-math skills—such as order, sequence, directionality, and visual discrimination. Many of the materials in the math section come in sets of ten, so that, without being conscious of it, the children are working with the base ten system of numeration.
Toddlers are in a sensitive period for fine and gross motor development and thus require a lot of physical movement during the day. The freedom to move both in and outside of the classroom is crucial; physical movement is bound with mental activity, as patterns of learning are mapped out in the brain. For the young child, learning is achieved through body and mind acting and developing as a whole. Movement is woven throughout all areas of the toddler curriculum, and supported in myriad ways.
The activities of Practical Life form the cornerstone of the
Montessori classroom, preparing the child for all other areas. Emphasis is on
process rather than product. Through process, the children develop and refine
basic skills that will serve them a lifetime.
The Montessori early practical life exercises draw toddlers with
their simplicity and familiarity. The children watch many of these daily activities
carried on in their homes, and have a natural desire to imitate them. Some of
the direct aims of these exercises are development of fine and gross motor
control, eye/hand coordination, balance, sense of order, control, concentration
The basic tenets of Montessori's philosophy also apply to science. The first stage for the children, especially toddlers, is purely sensorial. Montessori sought to give the young child a foundation of the "total picture" of nature and the universe. For the toddlers, this “cosmic education” begins by experiencing nature directly—especially those who reside in urban communities. She advocated the need for plants and animals in the classroom for which the children would have responsibility. From these activities, even the youngest children develop respect for and knowledge of living things.
The sensorial area of the classroom offers activities that
assist the toddlers in the great task of organizing, integrating and learning
about their sensory input. Montessori
posited that nothing can exist in the intellect before being experienced in the
senses—this is especially true for the very young child. The toddler has an
irresistible tendency to touch everything. It is during this sensitive period
for touch and movement that he/she needs the sensorial education, giving order
to these incoming sensations.