With the holiday season upon us, the thoughts of parents turn to what presents to buy for their kids.
If you’re a parent of a Montessori student, finding a Montessori-appropriate toy can be a challenge. Dr. Maria Montessori didn’t design toys, so there is really no such thing as a “Montessori toy.”
The good news is there are toys you can still buy to help advance your child’s learning and stay true to the Montessori philosophy.
What Are Montessori-Appropriate Toys?
Just like the method to which they conform, Montessori materials are designed to develop a child’s intellect and imagination while sticking to simple designs and functions. Montessori-appropriate toys skip the bright lights, loud sounds and plastics in favor of natural materials and purpose.
The simplicity of Montessori materials helps satisfy a child’s need to play by holding their attention. Toys with batteries and bright lights, on the other hand, can overwhelm a child.
How to Choose a Montessori-Appropriate Toy for Your Child
When shopping for toys to fit in your Montessori home, focus on those that are simple, beautiful and functional.
- Natural materials. Dr. Montessori loved nature and believed in using it to inspire children. That’s why Montessori encourages using natural materials, such as wood, bamboo and cotton, for the items in a child’s environment.
- Color, Texture, Size, Shape. When selecting toys, choose a variety of colors, textures, sizes and shapes. Get some that are soft and cuddly and some that are firm; some that are smooth and some with textured surface; some that are solid and some that can be taken apart and shaped. Interfitting blocks, for example, are popular among younger children and allow them to learn about shapes and use their growing fingers to manipulate the objects.
- Fine motor skills. Montessori materials are designed to develop fine motor skills of playful kids, specifically utilizing their fingers and wrists. These include lacing toys, which are shapes or figures — such as in the shape of an animal — where a child weaves a rope through holes in the object.
Popular Montessori-Appropriate Toys
- A classic toy that fits the Montessori philosophy is the animal pull toy. Usually, it’s a dog or a horse that has a leash to let the child lead the wooden animal by using the wheels on its legs. By allowing children to take their wooden pet for a walk, such toy offers the child their first taste of responsibility.
- Wood building blocks are perfect gifts for the young Montessori student. Be it a mansion, a temple, a castle, a bridge or a school, there’s no limit to what students can create using their imagination.
- A wooden rainbow stacking toy is another popular choice for children. While the wooden arcs fit together like a puzzle, the spectrum of colors fire up the imagination.
Montessori Materials for Math Learning
Another set of gifts that can help aid a Montessori student’s growth are the tools used to teach math in the Montessori classroom. As the Montessori Method utilizes sensorial learning in early math teachings, these tools are both colorful and offer a hands-on demonstration of how numbers are part of their world. And since these tools utilize fun shapes, colors and dimensions, they can be fun and toy-like for early learners.
Here are some of these math-related Montessori materials:
- Golden beads introduce basic math concepts by allowing students to group them into shapes of ten.
- Wooden rods, often colored red and blue, develop the concepts of numbered sequences.
- A pink tower offers an early understanding of sizes and dimensions.
- The brown stairs give students a lesson in evaluating sizes and creating progressions.
At La Prima Casa Montessori, students can find many of these learning tools and materials in their classrooms. But having some at home can help continue their learning and development outside of classroom.
Feel free to ask our teachers for ideas about Montessori-based activities for your little one this holiday season. And when shopping, please try to shop local to help keep our area’s businesses thriving.