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How STEM, Montessori, and Mindfulness Work Together for Kids’ Brains

rainbow rice, peas and wooden toys

As parents, we are always trying to do our best for our children, so when it comes to their development we make sure to do everything we can to help them along.

I don’t know about you, but as a mom I’m constantly trying to search for the best activities: baby sensory toys, Montessori toys, and STEM toys.

I want to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to establish a good foundation for their development.

It’s my job as a parent to make sure that I’m constantly providing them with opportunities to encourage advancement.

Below are some of the most common questions about encouraging brain development in our children:

1. How Montessori and STEM are related and how do they facilitate brain growth?

Believe it or not, Montessori and STEM go hand in hand! There are a lot of Montessori activities that also provide STEM experiences for your child.

Some examples of activities can be categorizing objects into similar groups by size, shape, etc. or using wooden blocks that are popular in Montessori can be looked at as basic engineering.

Both STEM and Montessori can help to facilitate brain development that is naturally occurring when children are engaging in these activities.

Hands-on activities that are present in Montessori and STEM learning are an integral part of brain growth for young children.

One great activity that can combine STEM learning and Montessori toys is to use a wooden kitchen playset to make dough.

They can see how the flour is turned into dough and then, with the help of an adult, they can see how the dough is transformed into bread through the addition of heat.

2. How do toys help child development?

Children learn through pretend play, toys, and the activities they’re simply doing.

What’s unique about children is they don’t have to try to learn, they are just always learning.

So providing them with toys that are beneficial for learning such as Montessori toys, play silks, baby sensory toys, or STEM learning activities can enhance their play to encourage development even more.

Toys that enable them to explore, manipulate and problem solve are the ultimate toys for brain development.

Mindfulness Activities for Kids

3. What are the best developmental toys for babies?

If you want to help your baby with development, you can start out with baby sensory toys.

Baby sensory toys are the types of toys that stimulate your baby’s five senses. 

Montessori toys are a wonderful way to work on your baby’s development too and include many baby sensory toys.

Montessori toys are made of natural materials, are relatively simple, and usually, focus on a single skill.

Some of the best Montessori toys for babies are wood stacking toys, simple wooden blocks, and shape sorters.

Key Takeaway: Selecting the best toy for your child is critical, it should not only meant to be for fun but educational as well.

4. What are some of the best educational toys for kids?

While all toys benefit children, the best educational toys for children are toys that require the child to manipulate the toy rather than toys that entertain the child without the child having to do much.

Battery-operated toys may seem exciting but tend to be the least beneficial.

Plus, as parents, we know that those are the most difficult toys for us to listen to all day.

Though it may not seem like it, toys that encourage the use of imagination through pretend play, like play silks can be some of the best educational toys.

If you want to go the traditional, structured education route there are plenty of toys like magnet tiles that encourage STEM learning.

There are also STEM programs that you can enroll your child in to encourage more STEM learning.

5. How to improve fine motor skills in preschoolers

Our preschoolers are so busy! My own kids are always moving, jumping, playing and finding new things to turn into toys.

Because they’re always moving and onto the next thing, it can be hard to sit down with them to work on their skills.

But because all children learn through play, we can improve fine motor skills through different play activities that encourage them to work on their fine motor skills.

Some examples of activities that encourage fine motor skill development in preschoolers are: holding and using a crayon or pencil, using scissors, playing with playdough, threading a play silk through a cut toilet paper roll, or playing with wooden blocks.

Many natural Montessori toys also encourage the natural development of fine motor skills.

6. What types of toys are best for 3 to 4-year-olds?

By 3 to 4 years old, kids are preschool age and tend to have developed their own likes and dislikes.

Luckily, there are natural, educational, Montessori toys for pretty much any interest your child has.

Taking your child’s lead and focusing on toys that naturally spark their interest, rather than toys we think they should play with will ensure they actually enjoy their toys.

Some toys that most children would enjoy are wooden marble runs, play silks with fort clips and wooden puzzles.

Don’t forget the toys that encourage pretend play, too! 

7. What age should you start Montessori with children?

Most children start Montessori education during preschool, although you can definitely start them earlier at home! Many parents start from birth with Montessori setups and toys for their babies even when they’re newborns.

Key Takeaway: Children learns through play. Montessori education uses playtime and combine it with learning tools that can help child development.

8. What are the best Montessori activities for 9-month-olds?

Nine-month-olds are at the point where they’re still babies, but they’re very curious and ready to really play and explore things.

Some great Montessori activities for 9-month-olds can be a ball hammering toy. They may not be able to hit the ball with the hammer at this age, but they can certainly play with the ball and push it through.

Another great activity for 9 months old is just handing them different objects with different textures.

For example, if you have a lot of fruit in your home you could hand them a pineapple, an apple and a kiwi to explore.

9. How to get your kids interested in STEM?

The best way to get your kids interested in STEM learning is through play.

My kids always enjoy the STEM learning activities that we do, but they don’t think of STEM programs as a program or anything educational.

Kids are simply looking to play and by providing them with STEM learning toys and activities, they’re going to be able to enjoy play in a way that encourages their interest in STEM activities.

Key Takeaway: Objects with different shape and sizes can be used for fine motor skills and STEM learning.

10. What are the best STEM toys for kids?

The best STEM toys for kids are the toys that encourage STEM learning, but also activities that they’re genuinely interested in.

There are so many different types of STEM activities and toys available that you can try with your children.

One popular STEM toy is wooden blocks because they require many aspects of STEM in order to plan, build, and play with the block structures they make.

As a bonus, most kids love to play with blocks from babies up until older kids and don’t even realize it’s a STEM learning activity.

PLUS: Ideas for STEM Science Experiments

  • Magnet testing: Gather various materials in a basket or a box and then use a magnet to discover which objects are magnetic and which aren’t
  • Straw and tape structures: gather some straws and tape and use engineering skills to build a structure
  • Oil and water experiment: Get a small glass of water and add food coloring, then get a glass or bowl of oil (baby oil, olive oil, etc) and add drops of the colored water into the oil to show that oil and water don’t mix
  • Colored flowers: Get some white petaled flowers and place them individually in cups of water with food coloring. Watch as the petals turn the color of the water they’re sitting in.

Lucky for us, we have all the resources in the world at our fingertips and can easily gain access to everything we need to encourage STEM learning as well as other brain development in our kids.

Babies and toddlers can get with Montessori toys very early on, while older kids can be put into STEM programs to encourage more academic learning.

Hopefully, using the information above you can make some plans, and buy some of the toys needed, to encourage healthy baby brain development with your child.

Read more to discover how STEM learning, Mindfulness, Montessori, and Waldorf approach can work together. Find more sensory play ideas and tools for babies ages 0-12 months, 12-18 months and 18 months up.

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