- What are Montessori toys?
- Do Montessori toys have to be wooden?
- What are the key benefits of Montessori toys?
The world of Montessori education has all bases covered: from teaching and learning methods to toilet training and of course, toys. Let us guide you through some of the most effective and enjoyable toys for infants associated with the method. Make playtime about your child and their needs as they start to gain independence.
👉🏼 What are Montessori toys?
Montessori toys focus on learning through unstructured play. With you as the facilitator, children can start learning from as young as 3 months old. In this article we’ll focus on exploring toys for infants (12-24+ months old), and we’ll recommend where to start whether you are looking for baby Montessori toys or Montessori toys for toddlers.
What types of Montessori toys do your children need? What will get played with the most? Should you buy Montessori toys by age? Keep on reading to find out.
Firstly, let’s clarify the most important features of Montessori toys:
⭐ Usually made from natural materials
⭐ Fewer, higher-quality toys
⭐ Each toy has a clear purpose
Ready for our first five recommendations? Here are some options for younger infants, specifically those nearer the 1-year-old mark:
👍🏼 A wooden shape sorter is a great place to start, and can grow with your child. As well as teaching children to recognise shapes, sizes and patterns, it’s brightly coloured to aid colour recognition and memory.
👍🏼 A wooden stacking tower is another great option for tiny hands. This shape stacker is designed to develop problem solving skills as well as the ability to order objects from smallest to largest. Children need to experiment and try different combinations of discs in order to build the tower correctly. Resilience is also built up through trial and error!
👍🏼 A colourful, wooden abacus is perfect for developing dexterity and counting ability. It’s colour-coded and accessible for the youngest of children. Fine motor skills are essential ones that your little learners will need throughout their lives.
👍🏼 Wooden stacking stones are a fun set to take on your travels. The various ways the different shapes match up provide hours of endless fun. When left out, they also make a beautiful addition to a child’s bedroom or playroom.
👍🏼 Wooden blocks with numbers and the alphabet printed on in bright letters are a fun set to have through the ages. It starts with simple recognition, and can be developed into small word-making activities.
👉🏼 Do Montessori toys have to be wooden?
If you walk into any Montessori classroom you’ll probably notice that most of the toys are wooden or made from natural materials. This is because plastic toys often contain and retain harmful chemicals which can be dangerous for children and their developing organs.
Beautifully crafted wooden toys are also an inspiration to children, and can be used to teach them about woodwork and craftsmanship from a young age. Worried about the cost? Wooden toys can be found in most toy stores, and there are plenty of secondhand options online.
Wood also warms to the touch and cools with the air so (unlike plastic) can change heaviness and lightness depending density. Young ones experiencing these shifts in perspective add to their developmental experience as they explore the world around them. 🌏
So what about when your infant is a little older? When infants approach the age of two, you can look at developing their toy selection as they gain control, dexterity and independence.
Here are our next five favourites:
👍🏼 A wooden balance bike makes learning to ride effortless and fun. By learning the key skill of balance first, children are able to progress to riding without having to ‘unlearn’ bad habits that take hold when riding with training wheels.
👍🏼 An adjustable art easel is simple, practical and perfect for developing creative souls. There are even little sections for no-spill cups and paints to promote independent organisation.
👍🏼 A Pikler triangle is a staple in a Montessori classroom. They challenge children’s bravery and dexterity, and are often colourfully painted. They allow for freedom of movement, and are safer placed on a soft mat for any worried parents. Place it outdoors for extra fun!
👍🏼 A sensory table filled with any materials you have at home is perfect for independent play. Got any dry rice? Water or sand? Place the materials in sections within the tray and let your child experience their different textures when they’ve learnt to stand up.
👍🏼 Large, colourful wooden blocks that can be stacked. Sometimes simple = the best option. Will they sort the blocks by colour? Shape? Make homes or towers? Putting out a basket of these blocks will create hours of independent fun.
👉🏼 What are the key benefits of Montessori toys?
The goal with most of the toys we’ve listed above is to promote close-ended play where there might be a clear goal for each separate task. This aids concentration and focus as children learn to master each activity.
Switching over from Montessori with lots of existing toys already? Remember that while these toys can be found in a classroom, your home is an open space. So there should be open-ended options, too, so that children can discover new things that objects can do. 🚀
Curating which toys are accessible at which times (don’t put them all out at once) means your children aren’t overstimulated and won’t get bored. Also keep them out at a sensible, reachable level when it comes to playtime. This time of day can help children to process events in their lives, with playtime being a place to practice what they’re seeing and experiencing all the time.
Remember, we cover a range of activity suggestions in our series, so you’ll never be short of ideas for children of all ages with whatever objects you have at home. 🌈