Although my son’s focus at the moment is definitely on fine motor skills, we do have some early math, language and sensorial activities on our shelf for Valentine’s day!
For early math, our focus at the moment is on patterning and 1 to 1 correspondence. Patterning activities are often also a fine motor activity for us so they pique the interest of my son easily. He also is a very visual learner and loves puzzles, so some of the patterning activities feel like a puzzle for him. My son has shown a keen interest in counting items and has started to count items in books up to 5. To foster this interest, we are working on 1 to 1 correspondence, which is the concept that each number that you count stands for one concrete object or movement in real life.
For language activities, we are working on matching 3D objects to non-identical images and also matching two identical images. This process started many months ago when my son was around 14 months old. At that point, he started matching two exact 3D items. We stayed in this phase for a few months. As he started to bring 3D objects to me to match with identical pictures in a specific book, we moved to match 3D objects to identical images. This phase remained interesting for quite some time. About 3 months ago, he started bringing model cars or animal figures to me while we read books to match them to the non-identical images in his books. This was my key to start offering matching 3D objects to non-identical images. He is loving this the most right now. At the same time, he is very interested in matching identical images and is beginning to play memory with a few cards.
For sensorial activities, we are focusing at the moment on the sense of sight. This includes sorting by color and by size. My son is very interested in color sorting and in the past, he has sorted various open-ended play toys (cars, magnet tiles, animals, etc.) by color without any prompting from us. He has two non-Valentine’s Day color sorting activities available at the moment because he uses them daily and therefore I haven’t rotated them out. He also loves puzzles and shape sorting, both of which fall under sensorial activities. He has shown an interest in stacking boxes before by size.
These are some Valentine’s Day-themed early math, language, and sensorial activities available to my son at the moment. He is 23 months old.
(Disclaimer: At no cost to you, I receive a small commission when you use some of the links in this post to purchase products)
- Hearts and Counting Cards (Math)
These lovely counting cards are available from Confessions of a Homeschooler. The Valentine’s Day Bundle from Little Spark Company also has counting cards. The beads used are from this set, which I can highly recommend for Valentine’s Day activities. Some tricks for this activity: Only offer the number of counting objects the child needs to cover the hearts on each card available! So my son has the cards for 1, 2, 3, and 4 available and in the box are 10 hearts.
This activity helps my son understand the correspondence between numbers (spoken) and quantity. Although the cards have the number symbols on them, I haven’t pointed them out to my son or discussed them in any way. Next year, once he has truly grasped quantities, I can use these cards again and put more focus on the number symbols.
- Patterns with Beads (Math)
This activity is an extension of the fine motor beading activity in my previous post and also uses this bead set. My son mastered put one and two beads on and off the pipe cleaners and had started to slowly become disinterested in doing this activity again and again after about a week. So I took some photos of different patterns of two and three beads on the pipe cleaner, edited them to cards on my computer, and printed/laminated the cards for my son. Subscribe to my newsletter so you can download these cards in my printable library.
This activity helps my son learn to copy pre-existing patterns and encourages him to create new patterns and extensions on his own. It prepares him for the formal extension activities available in the age 3-6 (primary) Montessori classroom for the traditional sensorial materials, as well as introducing him to patterns in Math.
- Matching 3D Flowers (Language)
I can’t speak enough about how great these Safari Ltd Toobs are! I now have a collection of 7 Toobs and we use them all the time. I chose to offer the flowers toob for Valentine’s Day with a matching mat. This mat and many others are available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers at Let’s Get Real’s store. There aren’t mats available for all of the toobs, but so far we have found one for almost every Toob we own! You could also use matching cards and many are available at various stores on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as on Etsy. I find my son at this age interacts more with this type of activity when I offer the mats versus the cards.
This activity introduces new vocabulary to my son (I often sit with him and repeat the names of the flowers) and refines his matching skills in preparation for work with 3-part cards in a primary (age 3-6) classroom.
- Memory/Matching with Colored Hearts (Language/Sensorial)
These cards are another part of the stunning Valentine’s Day Bundle from Little Spark Company. They can also be purchased separately. We have used them in a few ways in the last two weeks, including color matching and sorting as well as memory and matching activities. At the moment, I have the red, pink, and purple hearts out and we play memory often. My son is just understanding the rules of the game with a lot of guidance from me along the way. Independently, he takes the cards out and matches them on his own. We also talk about the colors a lot in everyday life, so even though we have focused on the primary colors in past works, my son knows a few of the other colors as well.
This activity increases my son’s direct exposure to colors and color words. It helps him to learn to match exact 2d images and teaches him the rules of memory. The memory game will be a great game in the future to add new vocabulary in a fun way, as well as work on matching.
- Heart Boxes (Sensorial)
These heart boxes were a post-Valentine’s Day sale purchase last year at our local grocery store. We have a chain here in Germany called Tchibo and they have both free-standing retail locations as well as small sections in some grocery stores. I saw this three box set about two weeks after Valentine’s Day on sale for 3€ and couldn’t resist. Two months ago, my son started to show interest in stacking boxes of different sizes by size, using initially only a few boxes and increasing to 10 boxes in a set similar to this one (although I have to admit that the linked product is not particularly Montessori aligned as it has a few different skills and cartoon pictures. We however have a similar one and my son just ignores the images for the most part). When I saw him interacting with the stacking boxes, I was excited that I could bring out these heart boxes to use in a similar way.This activity helps my son learn to differentiate items by size and work on stacking items by size. It is indirect preparation for work with the traditional Montessori material, the Pink Tower, in a primary (age 3-6) classroom.
- Color Sorting Pom Poms (Language/Sensorial)
Using some of the solid color hearts from this printable (also available as part of this bundle) by Little Spark Company, I extended the fine motor activity from my previous post to be a color matching activity. My son often still chooses to use his fingers versus using the large tweezers offered but he loves the color matching extension I put out and was thrilled to sort all the available pompoms by himself. We talk about the colors often and he has started to name them independently in the last few days. The pompoms are from a larger set similar to this one that I separated by color.This activity refines my son’s visual skills in differentiating colors as well as continuing to improve his fine motor skills.