16 - 18 Months

Real—even breakable—materials can teach your toddler valuable skills

Give your 1-year-old a glass bowl? Or a real tool for chopping vegetables? Though it may sound risky, introducing your toddler to real materials, including breakable ones, teaches them how to handle things with care, building independence and confidence. This is a common practice in Montessori homes and classrooms. 

Introducing real materials doesn’t necessarily mean your toddler will break them. But if they do damage something by handling it too roughly, they will be able to connect their action with a natural consequence. For example, they can see what happens when they spill water, drop an egg, or even break a ceramic cup. These are opportunities to problem-solve, adapt their movements, and try again ❤️

Replace “Don’t touch!” with “Let me show you how”

Reserve the word “No” for true safety concerns or when touching objects isn’t courteous or appropriate. When possible, empower your toddler and show that you trust them by demonstrating how to use gentle hands when they touch delicate objects. 

Start by silently modeling how to hold a ceramic bowl, pour with a glass pitcher, place a small cup on a saucer, dust a lamp, or crack a raw egg into a bowl. Then, let your toddler try. You’ll likely need to show them on different days and in different contexts to help them gain a solid understanding.

Tips for using glass, ceramic, and other materials

  1. Your toddler may be startled or even scared when something breaks. Offer them some calm reassurance and a safe way to help with cleanup, such as holding onto the waste bin. 
  2. If you aren’t sure which real materials to introduce to your toddler, just invite them to explore and work alongside you. Watch for their interest and readiness. 
  3. If regularly handling breakable objects seems a bit challenging right now, consider a small tray or box with a cup and saucer and other glass or ceramic items that you don’t mind getting chipped or broken. You can pull these out occasionally to introduce the process of handling and caring for valuable objects.


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Posted in: 16 - 18 Months, 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Cause and Effect, Montessori, Practical Life, Child Development

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