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February 23, 2022

Maximum Effort Ideas in the Winter for Toddlers

The need to reach maximum effort is such an important concept to understand when it comes to toddlers in Montessori environments. Toddlers need to move their bodies, exert as much effort as possible and do heavy, big work in order to regulate themselves. This Montessori concept is supported by our current understanding of brain science and the proprioceptive sensory system. The proprioceptive system helps children know where their bodies are in relation to the world. This system is developed by using big muscles and heavy work. 

Here in Minnesota we are still deep in winter. During the winter, I feel like I need to make a conscious effort to make sure Teddy is given opportunities to reach maximum effort. While we try to get outside frequently, we are just inside more often which sometimes means smaller movements. So I was brainstorming and though I would share some of the ways we help him reach maximum effort both inside and out during the winter months. 

Outdoor Winter Ideas for Montessori Toddlers

Many of these ideas are a bit specific to areas that get snow. If you don't get snow, here are some other ideas to consider outside. I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list, but the point is to find things that get a child's whole body moving in big, heavy way.  
  • Shoveling Snow with a small shovel 
  • Spreading sand (or safe salt) onto wet/icy sidewalks 
  • Building a snowman, snow castle, or fort - load buckets of snow to carry and dump out
  • Pulling a sled (add snow, toys, or another child for added challenge)
  • Walking/crawling/rolling in the snow
  • Climbing up snowbanks and sliding down them
  • Carrying groceries indoors 

Indoor Winter Ideas for Montessori Toddlers

While outdoor ideas are great, there is still a significant amount of time that we will need to spend indoors during the winter. As much as we want to be outside, finding ways to meet maximum effort ideas indoors is also important. There are plenty of other things we could add to this list, but I wanted to keep it somewhat related to things that are specific to wintertime: 
  • Putting on their own snow gear
  • Carrying/folding a big blanket or towel (use it to build a fort for more effort) 
  • Gathering or putting away adult boots or large jacket
  • Moving a laundry basket full of sweaters/pants/heavier clothes
  • Helping to rotate books - hauling, piling them up, re-shelving them
  • Adding larger containers to the bath to fill, lift and dump 

What ideas would you add to this list? How do you help your toddler reach maximum effort in the winter? 

Montessori toddlers need active, heavy, and big work in order to reach maximum effort. Here are some ideas to reach maximum effort in the winter.


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