What Are Montessori Toys?
A Montessori toy is one that stimulates learning by encouraging kids to experiment and allow for natural, open-ended learning. It should be a toy that they can hold and touch, as learning to manipulate objects is key in helping children develop their fine motor skills. The toy should also give them the opportunity to work independently at their own pace and use their creativity. As a result, it’s important for you as a parent to look for toys that will help your child learn and grow outside the classroom. Remember to always offer developmentally appropriate playthings: A one-year-old toddler needs very different stimulation from her toys than a 3-year-old toddler.
Montessori-friendly toys are typically made of wood and other natural materials. Of course, there really is no such thing as a Montessori toy. These are simply toys that work well for families using Montessori principles at home. Montessori method is using a word "tool" instead of a toy and "work" instead of play. “Work” then means doing something that brings satisfaction and gratification, it means gladly giving of yourself to complete a task. It is this positive experience—of undertaking an activity that fulfils your mind, body and heart—that a child experiences in a Montessori environment. It is this that we mean by “work.”
Montessori-friendly tools aren’t easily breakable, battery-operated toys. They’re most often beautiful, natural toys that encourage happy play and development of important skills. These types of toys never become outdated.
Here’s what to look for:
• Natural materials. Toys made of wood, wool, cotton, metal, ceramic and even rock are Montessori staples since they connect children to nature and are generally safer to mouth. Look for different textures, temperatures and weights. It will help children to learn about their senses when holding a toy.
• No bells and whistles. Montessori toys are designed to encourage kids to explore and discover independently. So instead of going for tricked out toys that move and make sounds on their own, opt for passive toys that require your child to physically manipulate them and incorporate them into their pretend play and use their imagination.
• Realistic playthings. Montessori toys tend to be lifelike and rooted in reality, providing a great learning opportunity about the world around us. Infants and young children don’t have a framework for what’s real and what’s fake. Choosing between a stuffed dragon or elephant? Go with the animal that looks realistic and your child can later see and learn about in the park or a zoo.
• One-task learning toys. Look for teaching toys that develop one skill at a time. Montessori toys should also have what’s called a built-in “control of error,” meaning kids will know if they’ve completed the task correctly.
• Toys with a purpose. Montessori toys can also be child-size items that allow kids to independently engage in job-like activities, like raking leaves. Purpose help a child to feel like a competent and important part of their world.
Best Montessori gifts for any age1. Schleich animals – these sturdy animals from Schleich are beautifully made and include most realistic details. There are endless options for building up your own collection. They are also great for building vocabulary and to nurture the child’s interest in animals.
2. Musical instruments – Children will love to bang and shake different musical instruments. Hand Beat Drum is making a beautiful sound and is perfect for developing an early interest in music.
3. Pegboard with elastics – toddlers love to work out how to stretch the elastics over the pegs. Older toddlers start to make patterns with the board too.
4. Peg puzzle – look for puzzles with large knobs and fewer pieces to start with. Build up pieces with smaller pegs as their grasp refines.
5. Pink Tower - Visually appealing and engaging, the Pink Tower is a foundational material from the Sensorial Area of the Montessori classroom.