Montessori Child Development Stages: Age 2-3 Years+

This page is being used in Montessori teacher training courses at all levels, and by schools to help parents discover the amazing potential of the young child, or to prepare families for future Montessori education. Please feel free to link it to any educational site and to share it. Toys and materials that support this development: montessori shop


I just can't find the words to say how inspiring this Birth to Three message is. These videos should be required viewing for all teacher training courses. Many children will have a better "growing up" time thanks to you.   —Charlene Trochta, founding director of Casa Montessori in Austin, Texas, USA . . .MORE COMMENTS

The first essential for the child's development is concentration.
The child who concentrates is immensely happy.

— Maria Montessori, MD

NOTE: When you click on a video you will be taken to When a video is completed other suggestions are made that we do not recommend unless they are our "Montessori Infant Videos".

Learning to use scissors

NOTE: Although many of these 2-3 video clips are from Montessori infant communities, we share them for parents to see the amazing potential of their child, and to give ideas of things to do at home.

Link: learning to use scissors: VIDEO

Link: scissors for this age: scissors

Washing a grape

Link: washing a grape: VIDEO

Link: Practical Life for food preparation and serving, etc.
age 1-3
, and age 3-6

This child is 2 years old. He is concentrating on carefully cutting the end of a prepared strip of paper. When they are cut the little squares of rectangles are then placed by the child into an envelope. This is the "work." (In a 3-6 class these pieces are sometimes sorted by color and used to make mosaics.)

This child is only two years old, but because she is allowed to take part in the work of her family it is evident that she feels just as important, just as able to contribute, as the other members of the family. Note the high level of concentration and the careful use of her hands. This video is from a friend in Japan.

Learning to paint

Link: first painting work: VIDEO

Link: art materials for this age: art

Finished painting

Link: finished painting: VIDEO

Link: art materials for this age: art

At 18 months this little girl is learning to paint. She chose the work this morning with no suggestions by an adult. At the moment she does this every day. She is clearly oblivious of the children and adults busy around her. No one interrupted her concentration on this task.

I watched this child paint continually for 45 minutes. Occasionally she would turn around and watch other children for less than a minute and then return, with deep concentration, to her art. This activity obviously fulfilled a deep need in her.

Hanging up Apron

Link: hanging up the painting apron when the work is finished: VIDEO

Washing hand when finished painting

Link: washing hands: VIDEO

Every unnecessary help is a hindrance to the child's development. (Montessori, MD) As much as she enjoyed painting, she enjoyed putting on, taking off, and hanging up the painting apron. Using an apron helps a child focus on the beginning and end of an activity. It is all important work.

And now that the painting is finished, apron hung up, paint area clean, she goes to the sink and washes her hands. Every step of this process calls forth logical thinking, planning, problem-solving, and concentration. It ends with happiness and satisfaction.

Plant watering

Link: watering plants: VIDEO

Link: toys, books, and materials to teach about plants and animals at this age: plants/animals

cleaning up after watering plants

Link: cleaning up after watering plant: VIDEO

Link: toys, books, and materials to teach about plants and animals at this age: plants/animals

If the adult shows the child how much water to put in a watering can, and how to tell if the soil is dry, a child even as young as this one, 2.5 years of age, can water the plants in the home or in the infant community. Dusting or washing the leaves is also a favorite activity at this age.

In this infant community small plants are watered by bringing them to a deep tray. This 2.5 year-old waters the plants, returns them to their place, and then cleans up the water on the tray. Notice the special "plant care" apron she is wearing, with a beautiful leaf pattern. It was made by her teacher.

baking bread in Sweden

Link: boy baking in a Montessori Infant Community in Sweden: VIDEO

Link: girl baking in a Montessori Infant Community in Sweden: VIDEO

Link: practical life materials for baking, etc.
age 1-3, and age 3-6

kneading dough for bread

Link: kneading the dough to make bread: VIDEO

Link: practical life materials for baking, etc. age 1-3, and age 3-6

This 2.5 year-old is preparing to bake bread. The teacher puts out the exact amount of oil, water, flour, and sugar and each day one of the children prepares the bread for baking. Notice another child in the video peeling eggs in the background; many children working on making the noon meal.

As she kneads the dough and then cuts it into individual pieces to rise and bake in a muffin tin, a younger child comes along and asks the adult who is watching for the name of everything involved in baking bread. This exploration of language is very typical at this age and the adult gives precise and correct words.

Learning to work a jigsaw puzzle

Link: solving a jig-saw puzzle: VIDEO

Link: puzzles for this age: puzzles 1; and puzzles for 3-6, and sometimes this age: puzzles 2


Link: learning to put on and take off socks: VIDEO

Toys or "manipulative materials" are second in importance to including the child in the real work of the community or family. It is such work that has prepared this 2.5 year-old to do this puzzle. First simple 2-piece puzzles are given, two different shapes the same color so the child can focus on the shape and not be confused by color. Then other knobbed puzzles of further difficulty. It is clear that this is not the first time the child has done this particular puzzle, repetition being a great need at this age.

A child first learns to UNDRESS and practices undressing over and over again. Eventually, in his own time he will learn to DRESS himself. One of the greatest gifts we can give at this stage is to not interrupt the child's attempts, and to give him time. This child, almost 2 years of age, worked for 45 minutes straight removing and putting on her socks. No one interrupted her to give help. The video was taken in Japan in an Infant Community connected with the Montessori teacher training: 0-3 course

Table washing

Link: table washing: VIDEO

Link: materials for caring for the environment, self, others: practical life

Drying a table

Link: drying a table: VIDEO

Link: materials for caring for the environment, self, others: practical life

In a Montessori infant community a child is given precise lessons on table washing a small table, but sometimes a child will take on a giant project of a large lunch table and make a "mess." But no one interrupts this important work when the purpose is valid and if you look carefully you will see a younger child coming up behind this 3-year-old to mop up the water on the floor.

It is quite common at age 1-3 for one child to begin an activity (such as washing a table) and another to come along and finish it (drying the table). This is different from age 3-6 when the child can, and wants to, complete all of the many steps of an activity from start to finish on his own. This child, age 2.5, has taken it upon herself to dry several tables washed by another child.

Gluing paper shapes


Link: gluing paper shapes: VIDEO

Link: art materials for this age: art

Stringing beads

Link: bead stringing: VIDEO

Link: first beads: toys

This child is 3 years old. She selects a pre-cut (die-cut) shape, carefully dips the tiny brush into the glue and places a line of glue on each flower petal, then glues it to a piece of paper of a contrasting color. Voila—a work of art, and preparation for many gluing projects in future years!

Notice the deep level of concentration and the fine ability with his hands and fingers that is the result of almost 2 years in a Montessori infant community where he was allowed to do many other things, such as sweeping, pouring, washing dishes, etc. —all preparation for ability and concentration. Age: 3 years.

First table and chairs

Link: Setting up a Montessori home:

Link: To order a copy of The Joyful Child, recommended in these videos, click here:

Note: table

floor washing in Bhutan
Link: Paro, Bhutan. Resa is included in all the the family work without question, even at 20 months. For a video of her washing the floor see: VIDEO

To see an article about her life, see BHUTAN BIRTH-3
Above are two charming YouTube videos created by a young mother who used the principles, and materials, described in The Joyful Child, (by Susan Stephenson) such as floor bed, small table and chair, small silverware, apron, even the vegetable cards made from paintings by Susan Stephenson, hung at the child's level in the kitchen as art work and vocabulary lessons. She has created a home environment that supports her child's independence, wisdom, and optimum development. We applaud her efforts. While Susan was interviewing the mother, aunt, grandmother, of Resa in Bhutan, someone spilled water. The older sister brought a cloth in from the kitchen to clean it up and Resa reached for it. The she began to clean up the spill. Realizing that I was taking a picture with my still digital camera the mother told Resa to look up at the camera. Resa said "No, I will not look up!" The adults appreciated that fact that their including children in the everyday activities of the family is something valued in Montessori education. See the BHUTAN BIRTH-3 link above for more pictures and text that were a result of this interview.

Severn Culllis-Suzuki, age 12

—Growing Up—

Link: 12-year-old Montessori student speaking at The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. SEVERN

Joyful Child Montessori 0-3 overview and catalogue is available from Michael Olaf or Amazon

When a child is loved and respected for who she is from birth, instead of being trained and pruned to what adults think she should be, there is no limit to the kind of compassionate, creative, problem-solving adult will result. Severn Cullis-Suzuki was born in Vancouver, Canada, where she attended a Montessori school. At the age of nine, she founded the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues, and in 1992, at the age of 12, raised money with members of ECO, to attend the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where she was applauded for delivering the above speech to the delegates. This video has since become known as "The Girl Who Silenced the World for 6 Minutes". more

This site is was created by Susan Mayclin Stephenson, Montessori AMI Assistant to Infancy, and 3-6 and 6-12 teacher.

The Montessori 0-3 information is part of the Human Development curriculum for a Montessori Middle school: Human Development Course

The main Michael Olaf page has very interesting information about Montessori in general:

Click here for the main birth to three page, The Joyful Child, which contains all 18 chapters of the Montessori Assistants to Infancy (birth to three) overview, and ideas for materials, toys, furniture for children at this age and their parents. It is also a catalogue of mobiles, toys, books, and other materials to order: Joyful Child