A Montessori-inspired Second Birthday Wishlist

These Montessori-friendly toys are not just fun, they meet your tot’s developmental needs.


As a Montessori teacher, one way I approach meaningful gifts is by thinking about the sensitive periods in a child’s development. Maria Montessori used the term “sensitive period” to refer to a specific time in a child’s life when he/she is particularly driven and able to learn a particular skill.

For example, young children are most commonly in a sensitive period for language. Yes, you can learn a language at any time in your life, but early childhood is when it comes most naturally.

As I start to think about what to get my child for his second birthday, I am reflecting on the six sensitive periods of a two year old: language, order, music, refinement of senses, movement, and grace and courtesy.

Here are ten wonderful gifts for your two year old tot that fit within each of these aspects of his/her development:


Toys and books that introduce new vocabulary meet the two year old’s need for rich and detailed language.

Bug blocks



These wooden blocks offer precise terms for each beautiful image, encouraging developing vocabularies.

Freight Train Book

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This book is a great way to practice colors and to learn the names of different types of train cars. Pair it with this wooden train for an extra special gift.


The sensitive period for order is strongest in young toddlerhood, which you can see by toddlers’ love of  routine, repetition, and predictability.  Many toddlers love creating order by lining up their toys just so or sorting things into different categories.

Goki Rainbow block set


This open-ended set is full of beautiful colors and interesting shapes. In addition to building, your tot can organize these by color, shape, or size.

Peg puzzle


This puzzle allows toddlers to practice sorting by size. It appeals to their sense of order and also promotes visual discrimination.


Two year olds are also entering the sensitive period for music, so it’s an ideal time to introduce simple instruments.  Bring on the dance parties!



A simple drum is a great way to explore rhythm together while also strengthening hand-eye coordination.

Refinement of senses

Toddlers are working hard to refine their senses. You will often find toddlers staring at the tiniest ladybug or collecting small objects to refine their visual sense, or noticing far away sounds to refine their auditory sense.

Tactile puzzle


This puzzle is a great matching exercise and also involves the sense of touch with many fun textures.

Modern Blocks


Your tot can practice his visual discrimination by matching the shapes painted on these striking blocks.


Two year old tots crave big movement and activities that challenge their muscles and developing coordination.

Ride-on Push Toy

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This ride on toy allows young children to practice balance and coordination as they explore.

Gardening set


Providing young children with high quality gardening tools is a wonderful way to help them practice purposeful movement.

Grace and Courtesy

Two year olds are also in the sensitive period for “grace and courtesy,” which is basically a Montessori term for manners. They are trying to figure out the social norms and what it means to be a member of a community.

Crayons and paints

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Try giving your child some quality art supplies and encourage her to help make thank you cards to everyone who gave her a birthday gift.

Each of these would make a fun and memorable gift that will also appeal to your two year old’s unique stage of development.  Happy birthday little ones!