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Any other moms tired of the crazy amount of loud light up toys for their kids?? They do not keep my daughter’s attention for more than a minute or two and I felt like she wasn’t actually learning how to engage in play. My degree in Early Childhood Education taught me all about Maria Montesorri and her principles for manipulatives and play and I wanted to change up the way we were approaching play. For those of you not familiar with Montesorri, the Montessori Method is a child-centered approach to education and development that embraces hands-on, multi-sensory activities that kids can engage in at their own pace. Some key Montesorri toy guidelines are as follows:
- Natural materials
- No bells and whistles
- Realistic play items
- One-task learning toys
- Toys with a purpose
- Only a few choices at a time
Now don’t get me wrong….we do NOT only follow Montesorri in our house. My 2 year old watches entirely too much TV and still takes out way more than 1 thing at a time…and I am far from the perfect early childhood education mom, but I wanted to gradually introduce less electronic toys and see how it would impact her play because I know all the benefits of this type of approach. Busy toddler (one of my favorite pages ever) frequently discusses the concept of “independent play” so providing more open ended non-electronic toys that focus on exploring through senses has really helped my daughter to gain more focus and extend her independent play time.
I’m going to highlight some of our current favorite Montesorri inspired toys. I say inspired because to be a true “Montesorri Manipulative” there are a TON of guidelines that most of these do not meet, but again my goal here was less electronics…more free exploration and independent play.
Montesorri inspired toys we love
- All the wooden puzzles. You cannot go wrong with any of these. We love all things Melissa and Doug and these latch puzzles are no exception! Taylor has been working really hard on an chunky number and alphabet puzzles. Click on any of the puzzles below to check them out.
2. Learning Tower– This toddler safe counter height stool is AMAZING! Montesorri principles really encourage independence through self care and involvement in daily tasks. This stool lets my toddler feel involved in what I am doing and allows me to provide her with hands on tasks that she loves! It is recommended for ages 18 months and up, as they need to be able to safely stand up there on their own (There is a safety bar, and my toddler gets herself up and down with ease) Our learning tower is from a local shop called @littlehelperstools on instagram but there is a similar one on Amazon right here https://amzn.to/37ir98E
3. Rainbow shape stacker– we’ve been practicing lots of counting with this!
4. Counting bears with silicone cups– Taylor has learned all of her colors and will sit forever and engage with these bears and sort them by color. It is so fun to watch!
5. Melissa and Doug pounding bench. This has not been Taylor’s favorite just yet which surprised me because she loves to pound things, but I am intrigued to see what she does with it with continued exposure.
Realistic play items we love
- Wooden Play Kitchen + Accessories– how fun is this? I may be biased but this is the cutest chef ever.
2. Dyson Vacuum– She LOVES to vacuum especially when she sees me cleaning.
3. Melissa and Doug Cleaning Kit– perfect for all the little helpers in your life
Things on our wish list for Taylor’s 2nd Birthday
- Wooden blocks– Can you really ever go wrong with these?? A million possibilities. These are NOT Melissa and Doug brand because ($$$$) so these are a great cheaper alternative- very much true Montesorri.
2. These number pegs really intrigue me! My toddler is all about counting these days and these look to be really interesting- and very much Montesorri
3. This simple peg board with carrying bag will really lead to an endless amount of activities
4. A Color matching wooden bee toy– How great is this for fine motor skills?? Taylor will love this
As we get into reading I am really excited to try this phonics word builder– which would’ve also been great for when I taught kinder and first grade.
Some great Montesorri inspired options for younger kiddos
- Infant shape sorter- great for kids of all ages
2. I belong to a great Montessori group on facebook where other moms share their ideas and resources. This is hand made by a mama in that group! How cool are these??
These amazing hand made color sorting toys can be found on Etsy!
3. To avoid choking hazards for small babes check out this larger color sorting set
4. While younger babies can certainly use the wooden blocks these colorful blocks with animals are a great option as well for some extra fun!