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Montessori Open Close Activities for Children 1-2 Years

Montessori Open and Close

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Open and close activities are ideal for the home environment, for children typically one to two years however a three or four year old might still enjoy them. It's easy to mix them up, swap around and make more challenging when needed. Most of the containers for this activity can be found at home. However, I have found the most interesting containers are those I've seen in schools where unique and intricate containers have been collected over many years and often from around the world!

The idea is to present the child with a small basket or tray of containers the child can open and close. We know at this age children are often intrigued by containers and things that fit. For a young child only one or two containers could be presented, then build up the number of containers so the child can build their concentration. This is a really good practical life activity for fine motor skills. Some parents would put little surprises like little toys into the containers to entice the child to open them, but I've never found this necessary. The key is to observe the child, see what closures interest them, observe what work is easy and what work is challenging and adjust the containers. If the child is new to the container they may need a demonstration, where you slowly and clearly demonstrate how the container and closures work. The containers for this activity need to;

  • be safe and clean (watch for hazards such as small lids)
  • be interesting, think different textures, fabrics, think cultural (look for a unique finds while travelling)
  • have different closures suited to the child's developing needs  
  • have lids that fit or closures that are in good working order

Many of the containers will be inexpensive. I think it's a good idea to plan ahead (a week or a month, whatever time you have) and put away any little containers that you find or come across that would be suitable. I also believe it's a really good idea to remove labels although with young children at home I have presented many clean and empty food containers with their labels still on. Some container suggestions include;  

  • tins (we love small chocolate, mint and tea tins)
  • snap lock containers
  • drawstring bags
  • pouches (those with snap buttons are good)
  • small purses (coin purses are ideal)
  • screw top jars (spice jars might be suitable) 
  • magnetic closure boxes (or other containers, eye-glass cases)
  • small pencil case or make-up case with zipper
  • small (and clean) cosmetic jars (perhaps travel jars, hotel shampoo)
  • small chest with latch (small jewellery box)
  • containers with flip top lids
  • decorative jars
  • small wooden boxes
  • small cardboard or other gift boxes (decoupage boxes often come in interesting shapes and designs)
  • reusable or fabric lunch (or snack) pouch with velcro closure

I hope you've found some good suggestions. There is also a really lovely and practical post about open and closing at Itty Bitty Love!

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