Montessori Activities for Toddlers: Shape Sorting and Open/Close Tray


Are you looking for some cheap, fun, and easy activities that support learning for your toddler?

You’ve come to the right place.  Every week I’m sharing 1-2 Montessori based activities that you can create and share with your toddlers.

Check out my first post here for an explanation of why Montessori works, as well as two other activities for your toddler.

Below are links to the rest of my activities:

Frog/Turtle Sensory Bin and Play-dough/Noddle Threading

Flower Sensory Bin and Buttons with Pipe Cleaners

Valentine’s Sensory Bin and Discovering Smells

Underwater Sensory Bin and Learning to Buckle

Button Snake and Bugs/Grass Sensory Bin

Go check them out and tell me what you think!

1. Open/Close Tray


Materials: Tray and containers with lids.


You could use any containers that are in your house.  I chose a couple different kinds, ones that snap on and ones that screw on.  The ones in the picture are a food container, yeast container, old puffs container, and a chicken bouillon container.


 The first time you set this activity out for your toddler, you’ll want to model putting the lids on each container.  After showing them, let them try it.  Be sure to praise them when they get a lid on/off by themselves.


 My daughter is a pro at taking the lids off, but she struggles with putting the lids on.  We’ll keep practicing, and I’ll keep encouraging her to be persistent.  The great thing about this activity is that you can change it up once they have mastered opening/closing the first set of containers.

2. Shape Sorting


Materials: Ice cube tray, paint samples, scissors, clear tape, and thick paper.


First, you’ll have to decide which shapes you would like to include in your shape sorter.  I chose to use a square, rectangle, heart, triangle, diamond, circle, and a star.  You then will have to cut them out keeping in mind the size of your ice cube tray.  The shapes should be small enough to fit in each ice cube hole.  You could also use stickers!  This would have been an easier choice, but I didn’t feel like going to the store (since I didn’t have any in my house).

My ice cube tray has 14 holes, so I made 4 of each of the 7 shapes.  Two of the four for each shape would be taped onto the ice cube tray.  Meanwhile, the other two would be glued onto a paper circle.


Next, you’ll want to find some thick paper that you can use to cut out circles for the shapes.  I used my Fiskars Ultra ShapeXpress
for this which makes the whole process simple and painless.  Circles are the hardest shape to cut freehand!


Next, you’ll glue your shapes to the circles.


Obviously you’ll want to make sure that the shapes fit inside the circles before taking this step.


To ensure that those little toddler hands don’t rip apart your masterpiece, you can laminate the circles.  And by laminating, I mean using clear tape 🙂  I’m a genius, right?


By this point, you are nearing the end of this project!  There should be 2 of each shape left, and you’ll want to use clear tape to attach these to the ice cube tray.


Attach the shapes to the tray so that they are all facing the same direction.




Now your toddler can practice putting the shapes in the right place.


Be sure to cheer on your toddler when they match the correct shape, and don’t forget to ask them about the color of each shape.


A second part of this activity is matching the shapes in the circles.  You could also play a game of memory by flipping the shapes over and finding the pairs.  I was surprised at how quickly my daughter started sorting the shapes on her own.  Kids are smart!

  I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I invite you to join me next week for another Montessori activity for your toddler.

*These activities are my own, and are not sponsored by any Montessori organization.



18 Comments Add yours

  1. confessions1rst says:

    These are so neat! Brilliant!

  2. Samantha Lee says:

    So creative, easy, cheap, and great for children! Love it (:

    1. Janell says:

      Thanks! Education doesn’t have to be expensive, especially at this age 🙂 It just involves creativity!

  3. Jasmine says:

    Such good ideas! I can’t wait to try them! I especially love the container one – my Little Miss is 4 so she’s aged out of a lot of sorting activities; they just don’t hold her interest like they used to. But she’s enthralled now with making her fingers do what she wants (hold pencils, snap, lock, and twist things). She would have a blast with this! I’ll definitely be incorporating it into our lesson plan this week!

    1. Janell says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you’ve found these ideas helpful 🙂

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