The Montessori method is a marvelous way to teach children. It allows children to better learn problem-solving skills and boost their self-esteem more effectively than most other learning methods. You can even start teaching children with the Montessori method before they are in school with toys for babies.
Montessori approved toys must provide engagement, and playing with them will teach babies, toddlers, and children different skills.
There are many different toys out there that are Montessori approved for different age groups. Certain Montessori toys will provide different lessons and skills through play, trial and error, and feeling a sense of control. Entertainment will come naturally with these toys.
What is a Montessori Approved Toy?
Montessori approved toys are not so different from many toys you see on the shelves at stores or shopping online. They must follow specific criteria, such as:
- Promote engagement and can be played with over some time
- Teach a lesson through play, whether it is gaining fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving skills, or any other play skills
- Act as more of an activity than a toy to play with
How is a Montessori Approved Toy Different From Other Toys?
Knowing how to differentiate a Montessori toy from other toys isn’t a difficult task. As mentioned earlier, Montessori toys are supposed to serve as a learning experience for children through engagement, play, and completing a task.
Other toys don’t always fit the criteria of a Montessori toy for various reasons. Some examples of toys that aren’t Montessori approved are:
|Light-up and sound-making toys||Don’t provide much of a learning experience outside of conditioning. They can be distracting as well.|
|Cartoon puzzles and toys||Don’t give children an accurate depiction of animals or people.|
When buying toys for your children, make sure not to have too many options. Having too many toys can overstimulate your child and make their play space overwhelming and disorganized. It will discourage them and make it more difficult for them to focus on the toy they are playing with.
Montessori Toys for Infants
Finding toys for infants can be difficult, but many available toys can be considered Montessori toys for infants. During this stage, infants are learning many different things, including:
- Fine and gross motor skills
- Spatial awareness
- Emotional awareness
Rattles are an excellent toy for infants. It will teach them how to grasp and how to create sounds with an object. They will also move their arms to make the sound and learning control and the space around them, so they don’t bonk themselves in the head. Check out these Montessori rattles on Amazon.
Other Instruments and Noise Makers
Toys that incorporate different types of sounds are excellent Montessori toys. Along with rattles or maracas, infants can play with taborines, drums they can hit with their hands, and bells. Of course, they will have to be an appropriate size for an infant. They can teach infants motor control as well as being able to produce a sound that they enjoy. Click here to see our favorite wooden musical instrument set on Amazon.
Play Gyms With Mobiles
Play gyms are excellent for infants. They teach them many gross motor skills while they are reaching for hanging objects. Some play gyms also include toys and trinkets on the sides, such as mirrors and sensory pads, to encourage rolling over and crawling.
- Soft, sensory balls are a safe option for infants to play with. They teach them spatial awareness, grasping with their hands, holding onto the ball, rolling, and encourage crawling during tummy time. Some balls also have bells inside of them to encourage infants to play with them. I really love these crocheted balls that have rattles in them like these on Etsy.
- Ribbon rings: Also referred to as “hand kites”, and perhaps better known in the Waldorf education than in Montessori, these rings help babies develop hand-eye coordination and introduce them to colors.
Object Permanence Box
Boxes like these are great for older infants who can sit up. They teach infants how to grasp and to have control when placing an object in the box. Ultimately, it will lead an infant to develop object permanence, knowing an item is still there, even if you can’t see it.
Puzzles are an excellent way for parents to play with their children because while your child is completing the puzzle, you can give them the names for the objects, colors and mimic the sounds they make. We like this simple wooden peg shape and color puzzle for baby’s first introduction to puzzles.
Can Older Children Play With Montessori Toys for Babies?
Many parents dread having to throw or give away old toys that their children have outgrown. Montessori approved toys are great to bring into different stages of childhood. Their purpose will have changed, but they can still be used, such as:
- Soft and sensory balls being used for playing catch, imaginative play, and during fort construction
- Rattles can be incorporated during music time, as well as some of the instruments suggested earlier.
- Stacking toys are fun for children to use when they are building towers and knocking them over.
Montessori classrooms have plenty of toys for children to learn and play with. The classrooms are even encouraged to have mixed ages. Studies, such as the one done by Lillard and Else-Quest, have found that children who learn with the Montessori method are better prepared for school and have more school functionality than those who don’t.
An additional benefit of older children in Montessori classrooms with younger children is that they can still utilize the toys they played with when they were younger and teach younger children how to use them.
Do Montessori Approved Toys Always Have to Be Wooden?
Even though Maria Montessori believed that the toys should be made of wood (or other natural materials), new toys have been created to fulfill the criteria of being a Montessori approved toy. Wooden toys are more challenging to come by for some families for various reasons, but that shouldn’t discourage parents from buying plastic toys from time to time.
However, wooden toys are preferred because they tend to be simpler and do not distract them. They help the child focus on the task of playing and learning skills through play.
For more information on why Maria Montessori believes wooden toys are better, click here to read our complete article.
Montessori approved toys are outstanding in the sense that playing with a Montessori toy will provide not only entertainment but a learning experience and a boosted self-esteem with problem-solving skills. You don’t have to wait for your child to start at a Montessori school to begin learning this method.
For more information on Montessori for babies, check out our article: Montessori for Your Infant: Everything You Need to Know.
For a complete guide to Montessori toys for toddlers, check out our article Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers: Ideas for Every Budget.