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Montessori Toy Guide

Montessori  methods  are  based  on  simplicity  and allowing  children  to  learn  independently.  The Montessori  environment  is  uncluttered  and  seemingly underwhelming—as  overwhelming  a  child  can  cause distraction and hinder the learning process. Instead of offering  a  mountain  of  toys  and  activity  options,  a Montessori classroom or playroom is spacious with limited materials. Most objects are made from natural materials like wood. Wooden toys are more durable, better for the environment, and much safer than plastic alternatives.


A Montessori toy should encourage children to engage, focus, and absorb information. Children should be able to hold, touch, feel, taste, smell, and explore each toy so that they can essentially develop their senses while playing and having fun. If the child can manipulate the toy on their own, they will naturally improve their motor skills. Ultimately, a Montessori toy should give children the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity while working with the toy independently.


Throughout my blog posts, I have written about Montessori materials. Now I would like to explain the value and purpose of these materials. Maria Montessori used the term ‘materials’ over ‘toys’ because they are intended for much more than entertainment. The items available in Montessori are set out to help the children develop multiple skill sets. There are three main characteristics of Montessori materials:


  1. Sensorial: A child’s sensory development is just as important, if not more important, than their physical development. Studies have proved that sensory learning is the foundation of early brain development. “Starting from birth, children need an abundance of sensory information to build the neurological connections essential to human intelligence” (Age Of Montessori, n.d.). Children, particularly between the ages of 3 and 7, are in the period of sensory formation—meaning that sensory development plays a large part in their intellectual growth. In Montessori, appropriate materials are utilized to promote sensory development. The items are made from natural materials, providing a hands-on, sensory-stimulating experience as the child can feel, see, taste, and explore each object. Materials vary in size, shape, and color, providing the children with visual and physical judgment and understanding of dimension. 
  1. Practical Life: Children love to get involved with day-to-day activities like cleaning, food preparation, and getting dressed. Learning these life skills from a young age will help develop motor skills and promote independence and confidence. “Through practical life lessons, children develop small and large motor skills, balance, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, independence, confidence, and more” (Age Of Montessori, n.d.). Montessori classrooms and playrooms include appropriate-sized real-life tools and materials that the children can access at any time.

  2. Academic: It is sensorial and practical growth that sets up the child’s brain for academic learning. In Montessori, educational materials are used to promote engagement and maintain attention. The objects are scientifically designed to allow for error, teaching the children inner discipline as they control their mistakes and improve judgment and comprehension, developing their skill upon each attempt. Children learn the foundations of scientific and mathematical concepts via simple materials like rods, spindle boxes, and beads. Montessori language development materials include phonics cards, moveable alphabets, and letters made of sandpaper.





The Montessori environment needs to be plain and simple, providing a calming and nurturing space. Select toys that promote learning and stick to natural and sustainable materials like wood. There are five characteristics of a Montessori toy as suggested by Monti Kids (2020):


  1. Montessori toys are simple. Young children need toys that are simple and easy to use. They need to be able to understand and interact with a toy to learn from it. Toys that provide too much information can confuse a child and distract them from the learning aspect of the toy. Montessori toys are plain, straightforward, and easy for the child to play with while offering key learning elements. A Montessori toy does not include artwork or branding; think basic wooden puzzles and boxes with holes for shape organization. Have toys that stimulate the brain and promote motor skill development.


  1. Montessori toys are based on reality. Using toys that give irrelevant information like random sounds and visuals will not provide any skill-building opportunities. It may instead distract your child from learning. Present your child with toys that offer actual results and outcomes, and encourage repetition. Toys that provide room for mistakes and error will help your child focus, repeating their actions until they get the desired results. Montessori toys do not have to be complicated; they are simple with a limited purpose.


  1. Montessori toys are made of natural materials. Using raw materials like wood and metal is much safer than artificial alternatives like plastic. Although plastic toys can be more affordable, they are easier to break and do not last long. Small children have a habit of putting whatever they find into their mouths, so stay away from materials made from harsh chemicals. Wood and metal are both safe materials and are easy to keep clean. Children are interested in the materials they are using and study their size, weight, taste, and texture. Children gain satisfaction from materials like wood, as all wooden items have a unique texture. Wood and metal come in various shapes and sizes, allowing your child to explore each item from a different perspective.


  1. Montessori materials are functional and constructive. Toys that do not offer interaction are useless for your child’s development. Each toy should serve its own purpose and allow for a particular skill-building exercise. The toys promote engagement and do not work without participation. The children have to explore and interact with the toy to figure out how it works. An adult does not prompt the children to use the toy in a specific way —the child is left to come to their own conclusions.


  1. Montessori limits play choices. Try not to have too many toys, as children need to gather information without being distracted by other possibilities. Children need time with each toy to focus and complete the challenges that the toy presents. If there are too many toys available at one time, your child will quickly become distracted and won’t stick with one toy long enough to experience the educational benefits. If you have many toys in your house, consider putting some away. Rotate the toys and introduce new ones as your child develops and requires a new and more exciting challenge.


Best Montessori Toys for Babies and Toddlers Some great toy options for babies include:


Object Permanence with Tray (available at pinkmontessori.com) is a popular Montessori toy that promotes motor skill development and hand-eye coordination. The objective is for the child to drop the ball into the hole and watch as it rolls back into the tray. The toy helps to improve hand, wrist, and finger control as the child practices precise hand movements. The toy provides the child with satisfaction as they see their actions have been successful.

The Punch and Drop Toy (available at amazon.com) includes a wooden box, three wooden balls, and a small hammer. The child can use their hands or the provided hammer and whack the balls into the box. The ball will fall into the box and is retrievable from a small hole at the side of the box. The toy helps to improve motor skills, motor responses, and visual perception.

The Baby Teether Ball (available at greatergood.com) is a teething ball that is one single color, shaped to offer an easy grasp, and squeaks when squeezed. This toy will help your child through the teething process while providing them with the objective of squeaking the ball. You can emphasize the ball’s color when giving it to your child, allowing them to recognize and differentiate color.

The Bell Rattle (available at etsy.com) is a classic Montessori toy with a wooden handle and a bell on either end. This rattle is lightweight and easy for your baby to hold. Babies love exploring sounds, and this rattle is perfect for satisfying your baby’s desire to make noise. Your child will determine the origin of the sound, observe the bells, how the bells work, and the action needed to create the sound again. This toy is excellent for infants and can be used from around 2 months old.


Baby Gym (available at amazon.com) is a baby gym that is simple and doesn’t take up too much space in the home. The gym is excellent for hand-eye coordination development and can support babies starting to stand up and learning to walk. It is small and lightweight, making it easier to travel. The toys that are attached can be removed or changed to suit the baby’s level of development.

The classic ‘Skwish’ toy (available at amazon.com) is made of wooden dowels and balls held together with rubber elastic. This toy has been designed for small hands to help develop motor skills. Babies can use this toy to grasp, pull, rattle and twist. The material is safe for teething babies and is suitable for babies from 3 months old.

The Airplane Mobile (available at amazon.com) doesn’t take batteries, so it doesn’t automatically move or make any noise. Instead, the mobile moves from flowing wind like a draft from the window or opening and closing a door. The mobile is not overcrowded with hanging toys; there are five simple airplanes made from wood material, allowing the child to focus primarily on the shape of an airplane. The toy can be used over a crib or a stroller and is incredibly relaxing for your baby, promoting a calming environment at bedtime. Rattling Roller (available at amazon.com) is a toy great for children at around 6 months old or those that are ready to start crawling. The toy is made from wood, containing a wooden ball inside that makes noise as you roll the toy. It is an excellent toy for children learning how to crawl due to its rolling abilities. When the toy rolls away from the child, it encourages them to move and chase after it. The toy also provides satisfaction from the sound of wood-on-wood.


As babies develop into toddlers, they require more brain-stimulating activities. Here are some great toy options for toddlers:


The Sink and Stove Set (available at amazon.com) includes an actual working faucet and drain, just like the real thing. This set is an excellent addition to any Montessori kitchen; children can practice washing dishes and filling glasses and jugs of water. The set is made from plastic, making it much easier to keep clean. This set is suitable for children aged 3 years and up.

Play Silk (available at hearthsong.com) is super versatile and offers a wide variety of possibilities. The texture is soft, smooth, and comforting for your toddler. Play silk promotes imaginative play, and children can use the silk for capes, curtains, flags, blankets, forts, or wherever their imagination takes them. They can also be used for arts and crafts and are easy to keep clean.

The Pint-sized Toddler Table and Chairs Set (available at landofnod.com) is perfect for mealtimes and weaning. With a minimalistic design, there are no distracting features. Children can use the table and chairs for independent play, painting, artwork, or preparing and eating food and snacks.

The Mirror Blocks Set (available at guidecraft.com) is made up of wooden blocks that are considered the ultimate Montessori toy, as they are made out of natural materials and offer a variety of skill-building opportunities. This particular set features different shapes and mirrors, focusing on science, block play, visual perception, and size proportions. This toy is suitable for ages 2 and up.


The Schleich Barn Playset with Animals (available at amazon.com) is perfect for animal lovers or introducing children to the animal world. Every piece is precisely detailed and realistic. This lifelike toy has been carefully designed to inspire imaginative play using actual-life objects. It is suitable for ages 3 and up.

Wooden Stacking Rings (available at lehmans.com) are a Montessori favorite. This toy is made entirely of hardwood. Each ring is a different size and color; the toy’s purpose is to stack one ring on top of the other, slotted over the base. It is perfect for refining motor skills and problem-solving and suitable for 18 months and up.


And, finally, here are some toys that grow with your child:

The Wooden Block Set (available at mother.ly) is the perfect example of a Montessori staple toy. The blocks are simple, natural, and effective. Suitable for all ages, wooden blocks offer endless play and skill-developing opportunities. Children can use their imagination and creativity and incorporate wooden blocks into numerous activities. Wooden blocks present learning opportunities such as balance, sorting, organization, spatial awareness, and coordination.

Soft Zone Toddler Blocks (available at amazon.com) are large foam blocks that are a perfect staple for a Montessori classroom or playroom, and children of all ages can use and enjoy them. Children can develop movement and motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. The bright-colored blocks help children identify and separate colors while stimulating dexterity, imagination, and spatial recognition. The blocks are soft and lightweight, so children of all ages can pick them up, build, stack, and play. They are suitable for all ages.


Ramp Racer (available at amazon.com) is a satisfying toy that is popular among babies, toddlers, and young children. The ramp racer includes four wooden cars and a four-level ramp. Once the car is placed on the top ramp, it races down one level at a time. This toy teaches cause and effect while improving gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This toy is suitable for ages 18 months and up.

The Nugget Play Couch (available at nuggetcomfort.com) is machine washable and safe for all ages. It promotes imaginative play as it comes in four separate pieces that you can use in dfferent positions. With its lightweight and soft texture, it can be used for naps, as a couch, a castle, or whatever creative ideas your child can think up! The Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon (available at amazon.com) is a classic wooden toy popular among babies and toddlers. It serves as a walking frame for babies starting to stand up and those learning how to walk. For walking toddlers, it makes a great push toy, toy carrier, or toy box. With safety in mind, the walker features resistance clickers to prevent it from moving too quickly. A walker is a perfect tool for learning balance and confidence and is suitable for ages 1 to 4.The six-piece Rainbow Stacker (available at amazon.com) is an exciting but simple toy that stimulates children’s creativity, visually and mentally. The different colors help children to identify and differentiate colors. The children can use the pieces together or separately and can get creative and use their imagination while developing fine motor skills. The stacker is suitable for all ages.

The Montessori Pikler Triangle is a great and versatile montessori toy that can help children develop physically and improve their gross motor skills. It is widely popular and also known as the Montessori Pikler Triangle.