With the holidays approaching, we’ve put together a sure list of the best Montessori toys for every season of life. Focusing on Maria Montessori’s essential dimensions of play; voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful, and spontaneous. Hands on, stimulating learning tools, designed for kids to naturally find discovery through everyday work and play. We also dive into the topic of pretend play and imaginative play in the Montessori toy world. This guide has outdoor montessori toys, imaginative play montessori ideas, non-toxic montessori toys, and everything in between.
Best Montessori Outdoor Toys
Outside time is valuable in letting our children let out excess energy and challenge themselves by taking risks. Their imaginations run rampant within a forest of possibilities. From fort building, to obstacle courses. Getting outside and incorporating Montessori outdoor play is attainable and easy going. Although nature provides us with natural toys and practical life applications all on its own, here are some great options when you can’t find the perfect stick or rock.
These balance stones by JumpOff Jo are the perfect addition to any backyard. This set of 6 comes in varying heights and a few colors to choose from. Textured tops and rubber bases ensure the stones are sturdy and functional for toddlers to adults. Kids can practice coordination and balance while inventing games and risk taking. Let them pretend play that they are acrobats, or pirates walking the plank! These stones are easy to clean and can double as an indoor toy for those rainy days.
I’m sure you’ve driven by the park and seen kids, or adults walking on what looks like a tightrope. Well, not quite. Slacklines have taken off in popularity the last few years. They are a strip of webbing that attach between two trees, and with a fair amount of bounce to it, they are filled with fun and challenging antics. For adventurous older toddlers, big kids, or teens, this slackline by Gibbons, a well-known name in the industry, is a fantastic montessori outdoor gift. Children have an opportunity to build core strength, improve balance, practice focus and determination all while feeling like a ninja!
Children gain confidence, independence and a self of order through doing daily tasks. Having tools that are made for their hands, can help with frustration and is safer than adult sized objects. This gardening set from U+ME is perfect for the budding green thumb. Metal tools with wooden handles, make sure they actually dig well. Along with a perfect sized bag for them to carry all their tools! Their packaging is zero waste, with no plastic, making this a functional and non-toxic Montessori toy.
Best Indoor Montessori Toys
Sensory tables and play
If you’ve been inside a Montessori classroom, or are just creating spaces within your home, chances are you’ve seen or have a sensorial area. This is because it is believed that a young child will meet the world around them through all five senses; touch, taste, sight, sense, smell. This is why a sensory table makes for the perfect addition to a Montessori home. Toddlers through older children will relish in getting their hands dirty, and experiencing textures, experimenting with cause and effect.
There are many options out there for sensory tables for activities. We are loving this sensory table from Parimu Kids, you can find them on etsy. Their table is made from organic beech wood, sealed with a non-toxic oil, and is equipped with a chalkboard and whiteboard for a dual purpose art station. They also have chairs that are suitable for small children and store underneath the table.
Photo credit: The Artful Parent
If you’re feeling more crafty or good with a powertool, Pinterest is loaded with great DIY sensory bin options. Another great resource and the guru to all things sensory bin related is Busy Toddler. Suzie has tons and tons of ideas for all ages of kids. Using a Tuff tray is a popular option for indoor or outdoor play. Water, scented or colored rice, cereal, washing stations, jell-o, cutting stations, the possibilities are endless for fillings and practical life use.
Photo credit: What We Can Do With Paper and Glue
Montessori Pretend Play
here is a lot of debate amongst the Montessori community on imaginative play and how it is incorporated. Some think that pretend play has no space in a Montessori classroom. But this seems to be a misconception. Imaginative play and pretend play is encouraged, but in a practical life of play based reality. So think less fairies, and dragons, and more reality based dress-up play. People that children look up to, or inspire to be, all child-led and initiated. Pretend play is still a great device to have in their play toolbelt!
A great option for some Montessori pretend play, is the Nurse Apron by Jack Be Nimble. Made from a soft linen/cotton blend, and with ties to fit children from 3-10. This should be a staple for all the curious and empathetic helpers in our homes that will one day be nurses or doctors!
If your child is more inspired by nature and a bug lover, they have another great option. This Cocoon backpack or the monarch wings would be a perfect addition to their imaginative play wardrobe! Pair with a set of binoculars and notebook to watch all the discoveries they make as a future entomologist, or blossoming environmentalist. You can feel good supporting a company that has Montessori toys made in the USA.