Around the time of their first birthday, children will become more mobile as they learn how to walk (and maybe even run and climb) and will begin to develop their fine motor skills as their hands are free from crawling. At this stage, children are also learning how to communicate. They may say their first intentional word and it will seem as though their language just explodes from there! In Montessori, language development is naturally supported by a number of toys and activities since communicating effectively is one of the most important life skills to learn. We realize it may seem overwhelming at times trying to keep up with all of the learning and growing your one-year-old is doing, especially as they learn skills crucial for their development. The good news is that there are a multitude of Montessori toys and activities that provide your child with opportunities to continue building their fine and gross motor skills, that help foster their communication, and that promote their cognitive development so you can feel assured you are continuing to encourage and support their learning and growth. Here are 12 of the most wonderful Montessori toys and activities for one-year-olds:
Object Permanence Box with Sliding TopThis classic Montessori toy for a 1-year-old is an extension of the original Object Permanence Box. This material has 2 compartments and a sliding lid, allowing the child to place the object in one compartment and slide the lid to cover or uncover them. This activity helps the child further their understanding of object permanence, while adding a new challenge to foster their fine motor skill development, muscle control, and hand-eye coordination.
Posting ActivitiesOne-year-olds will be intrigued by Montessori posting activities. What’s posting? A fancy word that means placing objects inside other objects. A very popular Montessori posting activity for one-year-olds is the Coin Box which will help your child develop problem solving skills as they work to find the proper position to drop the coin into the slot. You can also create your own DIY posting activities using a recycled container with a lid or a colander as the base and small posting objects like pipe cleaners, toothpicks, or Q-tips.
Horizontal Dowel (Regular & Serpentine)This extension of the traditional Montessori vertical dowel stacking toy is intriguing for young children. It helps them exercise their wrist and body movements, crossing the midline to figure out how to place the rings on the dowel. The regular horizontal dowel is straight, while the serpentine adds an extra layer of challenge with its twists and turns. These Montessori toys will help one-year-olds learn basic skills later needed for dressing themselves and writing.
Colored Rings on PegsThis is a great Montessori toy for a one-year-old interested in fine motor activities and colors! Your child will love matching the colors and figuring out how to place the pegs on the correct dowels as they develop fine motor skills including a pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination, and visual discrimination.
Opening and Closing ActivitiesYoung children love to open and close things. This Montessori activity is an easy DIY that will be amazingly popular with your 1-year-old! Choose a basket or tray around your home to fill with four to five household objects that your child can practice opening and closing. Some examples might include a small jelly jar, a coin purse, a ring box, and a pouch with a snap. Travel toiletry containers are the perfect size for these activities. Opening and closing not only helps your child develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but also fosters their concentration and sense of order.
Ball TrackerBall trackers are a popular Montessori first birthday gift. They help children develop visual tracking skills and concentration, develop motor skills, and foster bilateral integration skills (helping children learn to use both sides of their body together in a coordinated way). For little ones exploring how to stand, many ball trackers are the perfect height to encourage this skill and to promote bending and lifting. There are even race track car ramps for little ones who love vehicles!
Shape PuzzlesIf your little one loves puzzles, there are some great options for continuing to appeal to their interest as they reach 12 months. Your child will likely now be ready for a 3-size knobbed shape puzzle (typically circle, then square, then triangle). You could even introduce knobbed puzzles with more than one shape to keep your child engaged. As your child continues developing their pincer grasp, you can increase the challenge level to peak their interest by offering puzzles with smaller knobs.
Push Toys / Push Wagons & Pull ToysOne-year-olds spend a lot of time learning to pull up and/or walking, making a push toy or a push wagon an excellent Montessori first birthday gift to encourage this interest and help them strengthen their skills. The Radio Flyer Classic Push Walker Wagon is a timeless walker that helps build your child’s confidence and balance when walking. Pull toys are very similar to push toys, but require a bit more coordination from the child. They’re a great Montessori toy for a 1-year-old learning to improve their coordination and balance, mastering their grip strength as they pull something while they walk. Both push toys and pull toys are great for helping little ones learn about cause and effect.
Galt Pop Up ToyThe Galt wooden pop up toy is a child-favorite Montessori toy. It encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills and helps little ones learn about cause and effect. This is also a wonderful toy for helping prepare your young child’s hands for holding pencils or crayons and allowing them to practice color matching. Your one-year-old’s glee and excitement will be easy to see each time they press one of the figures and watch it pop up!
Ball Pounding ToyThe Montessori ball pounding toy is great for one-year-olds. It helps children learn about cause and effect and is great for helping them develop their fine and gross motor skills as they learn how to hold the mallet or hammer and exert enough force to push the balls through the holes. Your child can begin using this activity by pushing the balls with their hands and progress to using the hammer when they have strengthened their grip. There are even variations of this activity that incorporate music, where the balls hit a xylophone placed below when pushed through the holes. Given that young children are often in a sensitive period for music, many one-year-olds are sure to love this added element of surprise!
Nesting Boxes / Nesting DollsNesting materials are such versatile Montessori toys for 1-year-olds because they allow the child to build, experiment, problem solve, and develop critical thinking skills. They can also be used for counting, developing visual discrimination of sizes and shapes, fostering hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, and developing concentration. The most simple Montessori nesting material is the box and cube, but the options are endless! Your child might enjoy a rainbow stacker, stacking cups, measuring cups, or even Tupperware bowls and lids. There are also beautiful Russian Matryoshka nesting dolls and nesting animals. If the nesting materials are plastic or metal, you can also use them as bath toys to help children explore volume and the concept of sinking and floating!
Pikler TriangleAlthough not specific to Montessori, Pikler Triangles are a great Montessori-aligned first birthday gift! Although your little one might not be ready for all of the exciting possibilities this toy provides, a Pikler can grow with them as their muscles strengthen, their courage builds, and their sense of problem solving develops over time. Pikler Triangles and the many incredible accessories including bridges, slides, and wooden rockers can help them learn how to move their bodies in new and exciting ways.
The wonderment of a one-year-old is awe-inspiring! These 12 Montessori toys are perfect for fostering your 12-month-olds love for exploration. As your little one continues to grow cognitively, physically, and socially and emotionally, these activities will help keep them engaged and excited about learning!