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Biology for Montessori Toddlers -- Self Discovery Basket with Printable

When you think about a toddler, learning science may not be the first thing that comes to mind. They seem so little and helpless, so they can't possibly learn scientific principles, right? Well, I would ask you to look closer at toddlers -- aren't they the ultimate scientists?! Especially when it comes to the natural world, toddlers are always exploring, hypothesizing, testing and analyzing. It is in their nature to touch, taste, smell and explore everything!

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I personally think it is our job to put a name to all of the things that toddlers are discovering. While they certainly don't need any help making discoveries, they often need us to provide a name for all the amazing things they have found. 

When it comes to biology, Nora has many interests. She loves animals, for example. But, above that she loves studying people -- and not just any people. Nora loves herself! She loves looking at herself, she loves poking at herself, she loves everything about her! And, seriously who wouldn't -- the cute! 

To help give Nora names for everything she is discovering, I created a self discovery basket. In the basket, I created cards isolating Nora's facial features, hands and feet. Then, I included a hand mirror

Using the basket, Nora could pick up a card and look directly into the mirror. As she would pick up a card, I would simply say the name of the body part. She was then free to find that part on herself in the mirror, or move on to another card. This basket was purely about exploration, not quizzing or memorization. If she pointed to a body part in the mirror or on herself, I would also name it. 

In addition to the basket, I also included a tray on her shelf with an 8x10 picture of herself. This way she can see the features as part of a larger whole, without the added work of looking into a mirror. So far, she hasn't done much with this tray. Other than point to it and say "baby!" -- which is just fine too! 

Nora -- and even Henry -- has loved this work! She loves looking into the mirror and pointing to her face. She was laughing and giggling with the mirror for long periods of time! This basket also prompted her to want to talk about her other favorite body part -- her bellybutton! For Henry, this work prompted deeper questions -- "why are her eyes blue?" "why do we have two eyes?" "why can't we see our bones?" These questions are perfect jumping off points for a deeper study of human anatomy! 

If you are interested in making a similar basket, you can FIND THE FREE PRINTABLE HERE! To make these I just cut out the pictures, mounted to card-stock and laminated. And, as with all toddler work, I didn't have much of a presentation, but kept it exploratory and fun!

Do your children love learning about themselves? 

12 Months of Montessori Learning!

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! Our topic this month is biology! Visit these wonderful bloggers for Montessori and Montessori-inspired biology posts. 


Kimberly Huff said…
I love this idea for toddlers. Including the mirror was such a great addition to the cards.
BlogTanya WS said…
This is such a sweet lesson on self-discovery! My littles loved looking in the mirror and were awed by their own eyes! ;)
This is an amazing idea! Both of your children are so adorable! I love watching Little Bee discovery himself. :)
Audrey said…
Just today Evie put her hand on her head when I randomly mentioned 'head' as part of a sentence! I didn't teach her that :) Thanks for this idea, you provide such great inspiration :)
Marie Mack said…
Such a great idea! My kids were fascinated with mirrors. Hours of entertainment. And I love the cards you made!
Oooh the cutest! My little boy loves our body unit as well! How is it for them to identify their body parts right? Can they just stay this way forever? Thanks for the share!
Elaine Goh said…
I absolutely love this idea! I wish I had known to do all of this when Z was much younger :)
Bess Wuertz said…
Oh my. I love, love, love this. I wish I had this when my children were younger. But I'm more than happy to share this with anyone who still has children in this age grouping. It's great!
I love this! Such a great way to introduce biology to young ones. The pictures are absolutely adorable Thank you so much for sharing a part of your little girl's personality and world with us!
I love this! Such a great way to introduce biology to young ones. The pictures are absolutely adorable Thank you so much for sharing a part of your little girl's personality and world with us!
Kylie D'Alton said…
I love the look on their faces when they see themselves in the mirror. Self discovery, such a lovely experience.
Kevin Nguyen said…
Your solution is very amazing. I can learn more from this post. Nice share !. Please read my post at here:

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