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Using a Lock and Key as an Educational Toy

Whether sitting, crawling or standing, a child as early as 10 to 14 months of age is still learning how to use their two hands together to get things done. Imagine the thrill they’ll feel at successfully being able to unlock a padlock with a key all on their own!

It is just one more step on the path toward their ever-growing independence, something we in the Montessori approach to parenting try to encourage through purposeful play. The exercise will also improve their hand-eye coordination.

I recently suggested the activity to a coaching client of mine who wanted ideas to keep her children busy on a long road trip. There’s often a better alternative to placing our young ones in front of an iPad or DVD player — one that is also more engaging and productive for their developing brains.

By preparing a padlock with its key attached by a ribbon, your child will have all they need to master this practical and self-contained challenge on their own. You may provide locks of varying sizes and styles, too. (Perhaps an old one from a suitcase you aren’t using?) A younger child may want one with a bigger key, which is easy for their smaller-sized hands to grasp.

Another tip: maybe keep this simple activity with you for those long waiting periods while dining out at restaurants!

Lock & Key by Jeanne Marie Paynel from voilamontessori.com


A simple padlock with a key attached to it will help the child refine their eye hand coordination, fine motor skills using both hands and the possibility of being an active and independent collaborator. Lock & Key is for a child who is sitting and crawling or standing from about 10 to 14 months. 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.

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


Do you struggle to come up with engaging activities for your child or feel uncertain about how to properly set-up your home? Let’s Talk to get some suggestions and answers!

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