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Use Toothpicks and a Shaker to Develop Your Child’s Motor Skills

In my practice as a Montessori parenting coach, I always look around my clients’ homes to see what they might organically have on hand that can be used as an educational toy. Not only will it save them from buying expensive toys, but it also gives their child a practical opportunity to work with everyday objects from the real world around them.

You may have seen some of my other posts about objects on this theme, such as napkin rings on a peg, a lock and key, or opening and closing containers.

With a simple set of toothpicks and an empty shaker (like the kind used for parmesan cheese), you can demonstrate for a child as young as 14 months old the process of moving one toothpick at a time into the small holes of the shaker lid. As they step up to the challenge of completing this task themselves, your child practices the refinement of their finger movements and strengthens their hand-eye coordination, as well as their concentration.

Maria Montessori once observed that the devotion and accuracy of the child’s movements allow them to become “remarkably calm and dignified.” You’ll enjoy watching them just as much as they enjoy completing this task!

As always, be sure to finish the activity how it was started — by cleaning up the toothpicks and returning them to their original container, so either the game may begin anew or the items restored to their proper storage place.


Learn how to set up a simple exercise with toothpicks and a shaker that offers your child not only enjoyable play time but also a way to develop their ever-increasing fine motor skills.

For more tips on how to introduce Montessori activities, read The Nine Key Points to Sharing a New Activity with Your Child.

*The appropriate age will depend on the child’s individual development and abilities as well as interest. These are all approximate ages; it is essential to follow your child’s needs by learning to observe them.


P.S. Would you like my support and guidance setting-up your Montessori home? If, yes then go ahead and schedule a ‘Discovery Session’ with me. It’s free and you’ll know if we are a good fit. 😉

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