Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers
Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers
November 2, 2021

Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers

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Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers .
Photo by @dearkitchen
Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers

Toddlerhood is a time for curiosity, exploration and learning—all tenants of the Montessori method, a child-centered approach to education. If you’ve found Montessori to be a good fit for your little one and your family, then focusing on toys that support this philosophy can be the perfect way to encourage your toddler’s learning through play.

Montessori-inspired toys should center around a few basic principles: they should be made from natural materials, err on the side of simplicity (no batteries needed), focus on a single skill, and be realistic and purpose-driven. (For more on what to look for when choosing a Montessori-friendly toy, check out our Best Montessori Toys for Babies guide.)

These 15 Montessori-friendly toys check all of those boxes and, best of all, they’re fun. They’ll inspire hours of play and are toys your toddler will come back to again and again.

Hammer Time!

Montessori toys should isolate a single concept—in this case, hammering a ball through a hole (and of course the fun of watching it roll out again). But there’s a lot more going on here, from helping your little one build fine motor skills to teaching them about cause and effect. We also love the simple, classic design and the natural wood materials.

Building Materials

While older babies can stack a few small blocks (and promptly knock them down), toddlers use blocks to build their problem-solving and balancing skills. With basic shapes and natural materials, blocks are about as tech-free as it gets. We love this set from Hape because it includes 100 blocks in a variety of shapes, providing ample inspiration for independent, open-ended play.

A Beginner's Puzzle

This basic shape puzzle checks so many boxes when it comes to Montessori-friendly toys. The puzzle is made from natural wood (check!), doesn’t have any electronicfeatures (check!) and is purpose-driven and isolated around a single concept (double check!). The thick pieces are the perfect size for toddler hands, and the whole thing is sealed with beeswax and flax seed oil to protect it from liquids and keep it looking new for years.

"Knife" Skills

Toddlers will love this wooden play food that looks just like what’s cooking for dinner, but there’s a hidden feature, too. Use the wooden “knife” to slice through each piece, practicing cutting and building fine motor skills. The realistic details and natural wood make this set super Montessori-friendly. It makes a great toy on its own or as an addition to any play kitchen.

Walk & Roll

This toy combines two key toddler skills into one toy so you can keep the amount of toys in your home limited (a key aspect of the Montessori learning method that minimalist parents love). It’s one part open-ended stacking toy to help build imagination and puzzle skills, one part pull-along toy to motivate new walkers.

Sort It Out

Shape sorting is a classic skill for toddlers to learn, and there are countless toys out there to help them develop that skill. This sweet little house includes more shapes than most other sorters (including a cloud, a heart and a moon!), and it has a carry handle so kiddo can tote it around anywhere they please.

Melody Maker

Learning to play musical instruments can help toddlers fine tune (no pun intended) some of their motor skills, including pounding and tapping, gripping and shaking. This set features several instruments that can help with all those skills: a xylophone, a maraca, mallets, clackers and spinners—all in one little llama!

Reality-Based

Maria Montessori recognized that it’s tough for young children to distinguish between fantasy and reality, so she favored materials that mimicked the natural world. These forest animal figures look just like the real thing and are ideal for inspiring toddler pretend play. We love that they’re a bit oversized so they’re easier for toddlers to pick up and move around (and they don’t contain any small parts).

For Letter Learners

As your toddler gets older and becomes more aware of letters and sounds, a letterboard can be a useful—and fun—addition to your playroom. There are lots of ways to use this wooden board, which is made from maple and is available with uppercase letters, lowercase letters or a combination of both. Younger toddlers will love using their fingers to trace the engraved letters while building their fine motor skills. As they start to get the hang of it, you can move on to using the included tracing stick.

Housework Helpers

Need a bit of help cleaning up the house? Time to summon your toddler in the name of all things Montessori. These cleaning tools are sized down for toddler hands—and they look just like the real thing, an important feature in Montessori-inspired materials. Now if only their love of helping out would last through the teenage years…

Paint Play

Finger paints inspire creativity and sensory exploration—not to mention just plain old fun. Aligned perfectly with the Montessori philosophy, these paints will encourage your little one in hands-on exploration and help with sensory development. They’re non-toxic, washable and safe for artists of any age.

Art Assist

Featuring a sturdy wooden frame and a double-sided easel with a blackboard and a magnetic whiteboard, this easel is just the spot for your toddler to create their next masterpiece. It’s the perfect place for painting, writing, drawing or whatever creative endeavor your little one has up their sleeve. We love that its height is adjustable, so it will last for years.

Coordination Builder

Balance, sensory stimulation, gross motor skills and imaginative play are just a few of the benefits that come along with introducing a toddler to a balance board. This simple, smooth piece of curved wood can be used so many ways, and that’s what we (and fans of the Montessori philosophy) love about it. This one uses eco-friendly wood and stains and is durable enough for years of play.

Fine Motor Mastery

At around two to three years old, you may notice your toddler starting to manipulate their clothes, especially fiddling with zippers, buttons and drawstrings. This busy board bundles together nine different types of clothing fasteners to help your kiddo practice the fine motor skills required to put on clothes and take them off. Keep in mind that the Montessori method says to let children lead their own learning, so wait to hand them this toy until you see that they’re actively interested in learning how to work with fasteners.

For Those First Steps

Learning to walk is a major step in a child’s development of balance, coordination and motor skills, and a good push toy can help your now-toddler get their footing once they’ve mastered pulling themselves up and can support themselves while standing. Some push toys come with lots of noisy electronic parts and other built-in features, but the Montessori method sees these as a distraction from the main task: learning to walk steadily. That’s why we like this simple, super sturdy push wagon made from beechwood, since it’s totally distraction-free. And again, let your toddler lead the way when it comes to the toys they choose, so even if they’re starting to take those first tentative steps, don’t force them to use a walker if they’re not sure about it yet.

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