Montessori Toys and Gifts: A Happy Holiday Shopping Guide

What Are Montessori Toys?

M is for Montessori-friendly

O is for Open-ended

N is for Natural

T is for Timeless

E is for Eco-minded

S is for Sensorial

S is for Science kits

O is for Outdoor play

R is for Real-life skills

I is for Imagination

Keeping the Montessori Spirit Alive

Holiday toys are about surprise and joy, not strict guidelines. However, many families like the idea of extending the Montessori principles to the home environment, especially during the frenetic holiday season. Every year they ask teachers for toy and gift ideas that are in keeping with the Montessori philosophy and encourage open-ended exploratory play.

While there’s no need to replicate the Montessori materials found on your child’s classroom shelves, it’s nice to have a selection of favorites for everyday play back at home. You’ll find a selection of ideas in the list below; others can be found on similar sites by searching for classic Montessori classroom materials.

If you prefer to shop in small, local businesses, look for places that seem simpatico (e.g., with more building blocks than battery-operated toys). Look for items that spark curiosity and natural wonder, spur creativity and imagination, value process over product, and keep bodies and minds active, not still. Think of toys and games that can be played in more than one way. And think beyond the traditional toy store: Outdoor equipment and hardware stores, shops in museums and nature centers, cooking specialty stores, you name it.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas: Practical life can be fun!

Kitchen-helper items are big for toddlers: Cookie cutters (for play-doh or real dough), pretend food, their own set of wooden spoons… Even kitchen sponges and a mini dustpan and brush can be a hit. Having your own roll of Scotch tape is a pretty big deal for a three-year-old. A measuring tape or magnifying glass can keep an eight-year-old busy for hours.

Teacher Suggestions: Gift Ideas by Grade Level

Toddler House (Ages 1 – 18 months)

  • Vestibular Balance Board
    This multi-use toy was originally used in Waldorf early childhood classrooms. It was created to help children develop a sense of balance, stimulate their vestibular system, and gain a deep sense of awareness of their body and body parts. It can be used as a seesaw, a balance board, a slide, a step stool, a boat, a resting place, a doll bed, a puppet stage, a tunnel and much more!
  • ToddlerHandmade Wooded Toys
    You’ll find a range of materials here, categorized by developmental stage: Rolling Drums, Spinning Drums, Basket with Balls, Object Permanence Boxes, Push Balls, Stable Stackers, First Puzzles, Peg Boxes, Trackers and more.
  • Wooden Drum Music Set
    This colorful little drum provides hours of fun while developing rhythm skills. It promotes dexterity, hand-eye coordination, musical skills, and creativity.
  • Magnetic Tiles
    3D magnetic building sets spark hours of imaginative free play in children while developing math, science, spatial and tactile skills.
  • Monti Kids Subscription Program
    By signing up to Monti Kids, you’ll receive Montessori toys and materials delivered every 3 months, plus short videos and articles for parents on how to introduce and use the materials with your child.

Children’s House Preschool & Kindergarten

  • Tea-set12-Piece Rainbow Stacker – Wooden Nesting Puzzle/Creative Building Blocks
    Because everyone loves rainbows!
  • Wooden Tea Set
    Beautifully crafted using wood from rubber trees, this set has real world functionality to encourage imaginative and creative play.
  • Earth Shaped Puzzle
    A brightly colored and detailed design is printed right on the wood so the image doesn’t scratch off with lots and lots of play. The 12-piece puzzle is manageable for young hands to assemble and comes with a drawstring pouch for easy storage.
  • Magnetic Tiles
    3D magnetic building sets spark hours of imaginative free play in children while developing math, science, spatial and tactile skills.

Specifically for Kindergarten

  • Stick-letsBody Magnet Set
    Children select a card and build the muscular system, skeletal system, organ system or the basic human skin shape using the 76 body part magnets. Cards come printed in 9 different languages to promote language development.
  • Stick-lets Fort Kit
    Brightly-colored silicone connectors come in a range of sizes to hold sticks together for building forts. Received the Parents’ Choice award in 2013.

Lower Elementary | Grades 1 – 3

  • TaskaTaksa Toys Nature-Inspired Building Set
    Children can use their imagination to create endless possibilities without any joint or lock, using only “balance” as a key to success. Develops creative, cognitive, perceptual and physical skills.
  • Wooden Pattern Blocks
    A classic math manipulative and learning activity. Great for spatial awareness, color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and problem solving.
  • Montessori Multiplication Bead Board
    Multiplication Bead Board is used for practice with the multiplication tables 1×1 through 10×10.
  • MindWare KEVA Structures 200 Plank Set
    Playing with planks gives builders first-hand experience with balance, leverage, geometry and principles of physics.
  • Wooden Geoboard
    A geoboard is a mathematical manipulative used to explore basic concepts in plane geometry such as perimeter, area and the characteristics of triangles and other polygons.

Upper Elementary | Grades 4–6

Below is a list of websites with toys and games that are developmentally appropriate, and appeal to a children’s interest in their environment while encouraging creativity, problem-solving skills, independence, logic and reasoning.

Lastly, here’s a link to the 2018 Montessori Friendly Gift List from The Kavanaugh Report.

Happy shopping and happy holidays!

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