For a Montessori school, there are principles that are meant to be maintained throughout every activity. The activities should be student selected, guided by teachers, they should encourage creativity, and be completed in an open and judgement free setting.
When one thinks of activities for toddlers, art and outdoor play are things that likely come to mind first, but there's an activity that not only develops a toddler's creativity, motor skills, and encourages real world connections that will help them in academic settings for years to come: cooking.
For many reading this things like: "But, they'll get burned!" or "They'll hurt themselves!" come to mind, and rightly so. Cooking can be a dangerous activity, but that's where the focus on teacher guided activities, which is a hallmark of the Montessori method comes in. One of the simplest and easiest ways to introduce cooking is mixing ingredients, and one of the most common introductions to cooking for toddlers in classrooms around the country is making play-dough.
Toddlers get to experiment with different ratios of ingredients; they develop their motor skills and problem solving skills as they strive to add just the right ratio of dry and wet ingredients to create the perfect dough. Of course the part that all toddlers love is adding food coloring and experimenting with color mixing, all of this is done under the watchful eye of a teacher who is teaching what the words ratio, dry, wet, ingredients, heat, and mix, mean as they help to guide the students to success.
Once the dough is prepared it has to be cooked, which leads to further opportunities to teach about heat, safety, letting food rest when it comes out of the oven to avoid being burned. As the dough cools, the students get to compare notes on color, what was easy, what was difficult, things that lead to identifying variables in scientific and mathematics lesson later in their education. This isn't the only thing that cooking allows for toddlers.
As a toddler's motor skills develop, they're taught to cut their foods, again under the eyes of a teacher. They learn about the food pyramid, they learn how to cooperatively achieve goals as they prepare basic meals like making sandwiches, fruit salads, Jell-O and pudding by assigning roles to groups of students to prepare meals in stages. Each one of these activities develops their understanding of the world and better prepares them for life.