Using the Montessori method, toys aren’t just playthings but special tools for child development. New parents find it overwhelming and tempting to purchase many toys; however, focusing on quality rather than quantity is essential.
Let’s have a look at what makes a Montessori-style toy, what to look for when choosing a Montessori toy, and some of the best Montessori toys.
Montessori Toys Explained
The minimalist-style toys designed with a purpose and without whistles, bells, lights, or sounds make Montessori toys.
Toys that comply with the Montessori philosophy are also called Montessori toys. A suitable example is the Pikler triangle which wasn’t designed by Maria Montessori but fosters freedom of movement and supports children’s independence.
What Makes a Toy a Montessori Toy?
Here are the characteristics of Montessori toys that set them apart from the traditional toys:
Made of Natural Materials
Almost all Montessori-friendly toys are wooden toys and not plastic. Using natural materials like wood, metal, cotton, wool, or stone for Montessori toys make them durable and safe, apart from being sustainable and environment-friendly.
These different natural materials allow children to explore different textures, temperatures, and weights, which provides for sensory exploration, the key to Montessori philosophy.
The young ones trying to understand the world around them will benefit from simple toys. Montessori toys without batteries, artificial lights, and sounds promote open-ended play.
It allows them to fully understand the actual purpose of the toy instead of overwhelming them. As a result, children invest their energy, investigate the toy’s work, and build new skills.
Montessori toys help distinguish reality from fantasy and develop real imagination in children. What they need are objects that represent the real world and are exciting and comforting at the same time.
Unlike boxes with buttons and knobs that produce random noises, Montessori toys demonstrate cause and effect. Montessori learning toys provide a natural feel and a good learning experience for children.
Montessori promotes a sense of independence in young children and freedom of choice. They must be empowered to contribute and care for themselves and their environment.
Allowing them to concentrate, play with a toy, and complete activities themselves gives them the confidence to be independent.
Toys that help in children’s development, allowing them to explore and involve with their ideas, decisions, and will, are constructive. This is exactly what Montessori toys do; they help children focus on mastering one skill at a time with minimal distractions.
The categories within which the Montessori toys can be divided based on their focus include:
- Arts and crafts
- Practical life
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
Where to Buy Montessori Toys?
Similar to the toys kept in Montessori classrooms, parents can also purchase these for use at home. The choice of Montessori toys is so vast that it’s easy for parents to over-fill the toys room.
There are various places to buy Montessori toys, including Target, Amazon Specialty toy stores, and Etsy. Choosing quality over quantity and purchasing age-specific toys are essential. Lovevery makes this really easy with their high-quality, age specific Montessori toy boxes. You could start with the The Looker Kit, suitable for newborns and as your child grows into the toddler years, select appropriate toys to help in their development.
Benefits of Montessori Toys
There are several benefits of children playing with Montessori toys:
- They develop hand-eye coordination, motor skills, balance, confidence, and problem-solving capabilities.
- Since the toys are made of natural materials, they’re safe.
- Inspires children to do practical things, become independent, and make their own decisions based on their ideas.
- Fosters growth of cognitive, emotional, and social skills.
- Promotes STEM learning.
Best Montessori Toys
The wide range of toys includes Montessori blocks, Montessori dolls, and even Montessori bath toys, among many others. Here are some of the best picks:
Among the rainbow-themed toys, the Grimms Rainbow can commonly be found across Montessori classrooms. It is a 12-piece large rainbow and an incredibly versatile toy. It can be used for endless stacking variations, building a tunnel, a house for dolls, or a marble run.
This colorful toy is bound to get children to love exploring and use their imagination.
When choosing a Grimms Rainbow, make sure it’s coated with non-toxic, water-based dye safe for children, like this one from GreenElephantHome.
The sensory balls, a textured set of balls, help in sensory exploration and engagement for babies as young as 6 months. The bright colors, easy-to-grab design, and different textures help babies develop their tactile senses.
Sensory balls also help develop fine motor skills while providing a sensory learning experience. They can be made from a range of materials, but I particularly love these crocheted sensory balls made from organic cotton.
Several board books for letters, numbers, words, etc., are based on reality and display interesting details that are age-appropriate for children’s learning. Books with bright, realistic images will capture the attention of young readers, while they can also easily handle such books by themselves.
Montessori Ball Tracker
Children can grasp the balls and release them, which improves their motor skills. The ball tracker also provides visual tracking activity, leading to logical thought. It is ideal for babies to develop equilibrium and good body movement coordination since they’ll have to stand to place the balls and squat to track their path.
Object Permanence Box
Dropping a little ball into a hole in the box and seeing the ball roll out into the attached tray allows children to learn about object permanence instead of believing the ball disappeared.
This also helps refined hand movements, cognitive development, and hand-eye coordination.
The Montessori coin box is also similar to the object permanence box. Coins are dropped through a slot at the top of the box; a drawer opens to show where the coins are collected. You might choose a 2-in-1 ball and coin box for your little one to explore.
A wooden balance board with multiple uses: a slide, see-saw, rocker, tunnel, lounge chair, and more helps enhance developmental skills. A sense of balance is developed by stimulating the vestibular system and supporting the muscles responsible for correct posture.
It can be used by children and adults, indoors and outdoors. A good-quality wooden balance board, like the one pictured from Duck Woodworks Shop is made to be long-lasting and durable and is an open-ended learning toy.
For parents who would love to adopt the Montessori approach at home, it is essential to surround your child with Montessori toys too. They’re bound to love them and learn and develop skills by playing with them; not to mention, some will even be their favorite toys.