What are Montessori Toys?
Montessori toys are simple and are usually made from natural materials such as wood and bamboo and they are becoming increasingly popular in Australia.
Rather than having hundreds of cheap plastic and noisy toys, the Montessori method encourages you to give your child a small selection of high-quality toys.
If a child has too many toys, it is hard to become engaged in play and stops them from learning through play.
Montessori toys encourage children to problem-solve and learn new things. Montessori toys don’t have to be expensive. Many of these toys can even be homemade or have cheaper versions available at Kmart in Australia. The Montessori method focuses on teaching children life skills and independence. Maria Montessori believed that you should never do something for a child that they can do themselves. This is why you will see many kids from families who follow the Montessori method making their own food, cleaning up after themselves, toilet training early and dressing themselves.
Here are the best Montessori multi-purpose toys for one and two-year-olds:
To adults, this toy might just look like a rainbow but with a little imagination, it can be used in a number of ways. This toy is open-ended, interactive for one-year old and can help teach vital skills like sorting in order, colours and hand-eye coordination. The pieces can be stacked like a traditional rainbow, or for more of a challenge, the pieces can be stacked on top of each other. Your little one might choose to use the rainbow pieces as a ramp or tunnel for cars. It really is up to their imagination what they can do with this open-ended toy.
Shape sorting toys might look simple to adults, but to a young toddler, a shape sorter can be challenging. They don’t quite yet understand what shapes fit in one hole. That’s why you might frustratingly watch your toddler continuously trying to put the square block in the triangle hole. Over time they will learn shape recognition and their hand-eye coordination will improve and they will master the important skill of shape sorting.
Musical instruments might be annoying but they are great sensory and educational toys. Your little one will experiment with different sounds and will slowly notice that if they hit the drum hard it will make a loud noise and if they hit it softly it will make a quiet noise. There are so many learning opportunities with musical instruments.
I have this toy at home and my one-year-old loves it. Usually, he doesn’t have a long attention span but he could play with this for hours. It is fascinating to watch him focus and try to fit things into their correct spots. The small muscles in toddlers’ hands work really hard when using this toy. It is a great opportunity to develop those small muscles in their fingers which will later be used for writing. This montessori toy can also be used to teach colours and colour sorting.
This is a ball that is safe to play with and won’t put any holes in your walls or harm your little ones. Learning to throw and catch balls is great for your baby’s development and later on, you could use this to teach your little one about continents, countries, cities and capital
We all know anything that involves creativity is good for young children but it can be messy. Bath crayons can be used in the bath (obviously) and can be easily cleaned off of your toddler and bathtub. These can be used to teach colours and what happens when you mix two (or 3 or 4) colours together.
An abacus isn’t just great for fine motor development but it’s also a great way to learn numerical values and how to count. Moving those beads around the abacus requires the use of the pincer grasp, which as you might know is what your little one will need when they learn to write later in life.
The Baby University books are a great series of educational books that explain complex science subjects in a way that toddlers can understand. By reading these to your toddler you’re pretty much guaranteed to learn something new too.
Did you know that toy cars help teach physics early on? At first, your little one will hold the car to make it roll. They might not yet realise that if they push the car the car will move on its own. Push it a little harder and it moves even faster! These montessori wooden cars are great toys that teach cause and effect. To add an extra element you can introduce a ramp and show your toddler what happens when they push the car down the ramp.
You have probably seen Pikler Triangles in many aesthetically pleasing playrooms featured on Instagram. The Pikler Triangle is great for building your little ones’ upper body strength and gross motor skills. You can get many accessories for a Pikler Triangle such as ladders, slides and ramps in Australia. For imaginative play, the Pikler Triangle can be used as a tunnel, a house, a fort or whatever else your child’s imagination can come up with.
This toy helps your child learn to grasp and look left to right which is actually important later in life when they learn to read. This is about it. Looking left to write is something we do effortlessly while reading but the ability to follow objects left to right needs to be developed over time.
This toy teaches colours and how to sort things in order. Sorting objects in order of size is very difficult for young children. They have a hard time distinguishing a small shape from a large shape. They also don’t quite understand that objects that are further away appear bigger when brought closer. This toy can help develop spatial awareness. Over time they will learn to stack the cups in order and within one another.
An activity cube (or busy cube as they’re sometimes known) consists of several different toys in one. This particular one has a shape sorter, hammer and ball set and many other toys that develop fine motor skills.
One of the foundations of Montessori toys is educational toys that teach independence and toys that mirror objects used in everyday life. This cleaning set can be used to teach children to clean up after themselves.
Placing the rings on this toy will be a challenge at first to most 1-year-olds but once they master it they can begin practising sorting the rings in order of size. However, this is something that they won’t learn until much later on. This toy can be used for years to come.
Dolls have been around for centuries. Dolls teach children about nurturing and caring for others. Dolls are great for imaginative play and for teaching responsibility.
This montessori wooden toy may just look like a curved piece of wood but it is so much more than that. A wobble board is the perfect example of an open-ended toy. It can be used in several ways. It may be used for relaxing in, balancing on or can even be used in addition to a Pikler triangle. Alternatively, this is a great imaginative toy. Your child may use it as a ramp for toy cars, a tunnel or whatever else their imaginations can come up with.
Scribbling on paper is a great way to develop your child’s pincer grasp and drawing skills. Drawing with crayons is a great way to develop muscles your child will need later in life when they learn to read and write. On top of that crayons are great for creativity and learning about different colours.
Fat Brain Toys make fantastic educational toys for kids of all ages. The Inny Bin has 6 sides. 4 of which have only 4 strings and 2 sides that contain 8 strings. The challenge is the manipulate the strings and push them aside in order to retrieve the toys inside. You don’t have to use the toys provided you might also want to put some of your child’s other favourite toys in the box as well. Each block in the Inny Bin is a different could and has a different texture for a great sensory experience.
The Lovevery Block Set is so much more than a block set. It’s also a shape sorter, a push-pull toy, a car and a threading toy. There are so many opportunities for developing fine motor skills, shape recognition and imaginative play with this toy. Check it out for yourself and see all the ways that you can play with this fantastic block set.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. If you find your little one is struggling to solve basic puzzles you may need to find even more basic puzzles. Just putting a shape in a hole and manipulating the shape with their tiny wrists is challenging enough. Once simple puzzles are mastered then your child can move up to puzzles with more complex pieces such as animals and objects. The easiest puzzle piece to put into a puzzle is a circle as the child won’t need to turn the circle with their wrist to make it fit. I suggest first starting off with the circle puzzle and then progressing to other shapes.
What are your favourite Montessori-friendly toys for toddlers? Or do you have any free or homemade Montessori activities to share with us?