The Musically Montessori Tot: "Toddlers-At-Home" Activities

THE MUSICALLY MONTESSORI TOT: Toddlers-At-Home Activities!   

 Did you know that Toddlers respond to musical activities before almost any other activity?  Adding music to your day is my secret to engaging your Montessori Toddler.

Joplin, aged 27 months. Photo by Carolyn Lucento for Magical Movement Company

The Musically Montessori Tot

During our worldwide pandemic, more and more families have been asking me "What do I do all day with my young children at home?"

Recently I have found that the age group that families ask me about most is the toddler group...those adorable two year olds.

"Twosies" are considered a challenging crowd! 

You know...that stage between babyhood and preschoolers. (around 15 months to 36 months of age)

Our Musically Montessori Tots are typically learning to walk and are not fully verbal or completely potty-trained. Yet that "tot" is in constant motion and absorbing information continually. (think: "absorbent mind")

And, I've observed over the decades in my career as a Montessori educator that, the youngest children are keenly responsive to the sounds happening in the environment surrounding them.

Most every baby, no matter where s/he is born, has some form of a rattle that attracts the child's attention immediately and soon becomes the child's way of "making music" when s//he first intentionally grasps the rattle to shake it herself.  

Well, at least,  I consider this"making music!"

Emilio, aged 2 months. Photo by Amanda Cuartas for Musically Montessori Baby-Ed eCourses

The black & white crocheted baby rattle pictured here is from an Etsy shop and is included in my musical materials list at the end of this blog article. 

Montessori Sensitive Period for Music Begins with Infancy

Studies show that the unborn child responds to sounds, especially music, as early as the second and third trimester of development before birth. 

Infants have delicate hearing at birth and prefer sounds that are lower in pitch.  That is why it is important that we protect the newborn baby from loud and extremely high-pitched sounds. Rather offer lower-pitched sounds made by instruments like the acoustic guitar, and one of my favorites, the mbira, or thumb piano!

Because children from birth through around age 6, have sensitive hearing, they are capable of learning their home language and even multiple languages spoken in the environment.

Likewise, at this time in development, the child is especially responsive to music and musical activities! 
Maria Montessori used her observations as a physician, and a teacher, to develop her theories concerning what she titled "sensitive periods" of development in the young child.

"The sense perceptions of even the tiniest infants initiate their psychic development before there can be any questions of its external expressions...  Even though this development takes place in secret, it would be wrong to imagine, as in the case of speech, for example, that it is not happening...  Little by little the ears pick out various sounds and the child's tongue begins to move with a new animation...  The child is passing through a sensitive period: a divine command is breathing upon this helpless being and animating it with its spirit." (The Secret of Childhood, p. 37-45 by Dr. Maria Montessori)

Incorporating Musical Instruments in Your Child's Environment 

In my experience, the youngest children benefit greatly from carefully selected recorded music, but they benefit even more so from live music right in their homes!

When you play your guitar or piano, your dulcimer or flute, for your child, s/he not only feels the vibrations and hears the sound of the music, but s/he also responds by moving.  All the while, your child is absorbing important information, in a sensorial way, from these live music experiences.

Whether you actually play an instrument or not, as a parent you can provide simple rhythm instruments for your baby, toddler, and young child to explore. 

I recommend investing in a selection of pleasant sounding wooden rhythm instruments such as rhythm sticks, a tambourine, castanets, and maracas, along with sweet sounding bells and a triangle. 

I try to steer clear of plastic instruments for young children. First, because very young children explore everything with their mouths, and the safety of plastic is still questionable especially for infants. Secondly, children's instruments that are made of plastic tend to have a harsh sound, as opposed to a sweeter and truer sound of wood or metal. 

Basket of children's rhythm instruments. Photo by Carolyn for Magical Movement Company

There are also many high quality, pitched instruments made for children, that you can introduce to your, child,  first by playing it yourself and then offering it to her to explore making her own sounds...making her own  music!

Here is a 1-minute video showing Emilio at age 8 months, exploring sounds and making music with a lap harp (melody harp) designed for children.


If you happen to be a music freak, like me, you might consider setting up a music corner in your family room to "make music" with each other, especially during these shelter-in-place days of covid 19. 

Music Corner of the Family Room. Photo by Carolyn for Magical Movement Company

Meet Joplin, my favorite little Musically Montessori Tot

A few months ago, I began working with my youngest godchild, Joplin. He and his family are members of our pandemic pod and Joplin comes to my house three days a week to make music with me. He also happens to be the child of one of my former little Montessori students from the 1990's. I first met Joplin's mom when she was a toddler herself!

t o
Musically Montessori Tot "making music" in the family room
Photo by Carolyn for Magical Movement Company

The first day that Joplin came over to my house, I had set out an array of instruments and was looking forward to seeing which ones he would want to explore. 

He went straight for the ukulele!

I was a bit surprised since I thought he would go for one of the many drums I had out...or one of the the barred  instruments with their sturdy mallets.

But, Joplin went for the ukulele and now that is always the very first thing he wants to do when he comes to my the little ukulele!

This video below is a little glimpse of Joplin playing the ukulele in the family room music corner.  I have discovered that having a small selection of quality instruments available to my Montessori Tot, creates an endless variety of  engaging activities right at our finger tips!

My Quick List of Music Resources 


for the Musically Montessori Tot (& family)

Musically Montessori Tot collection of toddler-friendly rhythm instruments 
Photo by Carolyn for Magical Movement Company

  1. Mbira (thumb piano)
  2. Mostly wooden rhythm instruments set
  3. Ukelele
  4. Montessori style baby rattle
  5. Guitar, Autoharp, Flute, etc (the adults can play these for the child)
  6. Toddler & Infant-friendly instruments by Plan Toys  
  7. Toddler-friendly Orff-Style barred instruments
  8. Recorded music from Frank Leto,  also Elizabeth Mitchell, and Tamara O'Brien (just a FEW artists that I love, and will get you started)

Studio 49 "Easycussion" Xylophone 
Photo by Carolyn for Magical Movement Company

More Resources 


Magical Movement Company & Homebound Montessori

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Copyright 2020 Carolyn Lucento Magical Movement Company

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