One of my favorite Montessori activities is posting. There are endless posting activities that you can choose from and you can use regular household items to create your own.
So what exactly is posting in Montessori? Posting in Montessori terms refers to the action of placing an object inside a container by means of passing it through a slot or smaller opening. Posting activities fosters dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as the ability to voluntarily release an object.
The need to place objects inside other objects is a natural urge that infants and young toddlers have. Having a couple of posting activities ready will satisfy this urge and help your baby build important fine motor skills. Keep reading if you want to learn more about Montessori posting activities and how you can present your child with the appropriate activity for their age.
The A – Z Of Montessori Posting
Posting in Montessori is basically the same as the action of posting a letter into a post box. This action might seem simple but we take for granted just how many skills are needed to complete the simple task of posting.
Your child first needs to identify the right object for the slot. Next, they need to establish whether the object will pass through the slot. They have to carefully move the object towards the small opening with control and perfect aim. Once they get to the slot they have to position the object just right and finally push it through at the right moment.
For your toddler to finally manage to successfully post an object will require mastering multiple skills, so where do you start?
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Montessori Posting Work At Every Age
Posting activities for babies under 12 months
Your mobile baby will generally enjoy any activity that involves putting a ball in a box but if you are looking for some more structured Montessori activities then the Egg and Cup and Object Permanence Boxes are perfect.
Egg and Cup & Box with Cube
When your infant becomes a mobile baby who can sit up and crawl on their own they are ready for the beginning stages of posting activities. This will probably happen around 7 months which is when you can introduce the classic Montessori activity Egg and Cup. You can also fashion your own by using a small ball and cup.
This first posting activity helps your baby practice removing and releasing an object into a container. When they have mastered the egg and cup you can upgrade to the next level – Box in Cube.
An Object Permanence Box
At around 8 months you can introduce an Object Permanence Box. There are a couple of different variations of these Montessori boxes with varying degrees of difficulty.
The first box is a square wooden box with a large opening on the top to fit a ball. The box has a second opening and is fitted with a tray. The ball is posted in the top and will disappear for a split second before rolling through the second opening and reappearing in the tray.
Apart from the hand-eye coordination skills and learning how to consciously let go of an object, the objective of this exercise is to teach the baby that even though we can’t see something – it is still there (the ball) or when something goes away – it can return again (mommy & daddy).
This is one of those Montessori materials that can be a bit expensive and it was hard for me to justify the cost since I wasn’t sure how long my child was going to find this activity interesting. It is also one of the materials that you can easily create at home with a box and a ball.
When your child is ready to move on to something more challenging, you can upgrade to one of the boxes below:
- Box with drawer – 9 to 11 months
- Box with knitted ball – 9 to 12 months
- Box with balls to push – 10 months +
Posting activities for 12 months +
When your child becomes a young toddler (12 – 13 months) they will more than likely enjoy trying to push coin-shaped objects through narrow slots. This can be anything from jar lids, poker chips, credit cards, or bottle caps.
The larger the token and slot the easier the activity so start off with larger coin shapes and a generously sized slot. It also helps if the chips make a satisfying sound when they fall into the container.
You can purchase a Montessori wood box with coins or you can use a large coffee or formula tin with a plastic lid as your container with jar lids to serve as the coins/chips. My son really enjoys the sound the metal jar lids make when they drop into the metal tin.
If your child is a little older or has mastered the large coins you can introduce a lockbox with a coin slot. Not only can they post the coins through the smaller slot – they can practice unlocking the box afterward to retrieve the coins. Double the fun! Just remember to securely tie the key to the handle of the box.
Stick posting is the same as coin posting but you use stick shapes instead of coin shapes. I’m not sure if this is a traditional Montessori activity but it is definitely a posting activity. It makes for an ideal DIY project using bottles and containers you already have at home. This activity can easily be adjusted in terms of difficulty by using the same principle of large openings vs small openings.
Here are some examples of stick objects you can use to post:
- Craft matches
- Laundry pegs
- Pipe cleaners
Containers to post into:
- Metal tins
- Glass or metal salt shaker
- Plastic bottles
Shape box posting
The Montessori Mail Box is the beginner version of the well-known multiple shape box. The more openings in the box the more challenging the task. Your child might only be ready for this activity at around 14 months and upwards.
My son is not yet old enough for this activity but I plan on using the Melissa & Dough shape box that I already own. I will cover the more difficult shapes with cardboard and only present him with one or two easy shapes, to begin with. I might even use a cardboard box to make my own version of the singe shape Montessori mailbox.
Which other Montessori activities will help my toddler build fine-motor skills?
Fine motor skills are important for dexterity and coordination and most of these activities are built on a long progression of skills.
Threading activities start with placing rings on a vertical peg. If your baby is younger than 12 months they will probably enjoy removing the rings from the peg only and will only progress to attempting to put the rings on the peg when they are about 13 months old.
We then move on to placing rings on a horizontal peg. Only after building adequate coordination skills can we offer our child a stringing activity which will happen around 16 to 18 months.
There is so much more to learn about Threading activities in Montessori and I have written a dedicated post that I suggest you go and read if you are interested in delving into the topic in more detail.
Montessori Threading for Toddlers [What, Why & How?]
Opening & Closing activities
This is pretty self-explanatory but the possibilities are endless. Your young toddler will enjoy opening and closing any of the following:
- Jars, bottles or containers
- Wallets or purses with zips, press studs and velcro.
How Do You Introduce A New Montessori Activity?
Here are 5 things to remember when you are setting up a Montessori activity:
- Display the activity on a shelf at your child’s height so they can see it.
- Make sure you provide everything the child will need to complete the activity. It might prove helpful to do the activity yourself first so you can see what your child will need.
- Organize the items together on the tray by using small bowls and baskets.
- Present the activity in its unfinished state.
- Make it look attractive.
If you need to give your child a demonstration of the activity make sure to only use your hands. Don’t speak at the same time. Small children tend to look at your mouth when you speak which makes it difficult to concentrate on what you are saying at the same time as what you are showing them. Make sure you gesture slowly and show them how you think they will handle the activity. You can learn more about the Montessori Three Period Lesson here.