The best Montessori toys that grow with your child
These toys provide the right level of challenge and opportunity for creativity to keep children engaged for years.
We’ve all done it. Found a toy we know our child will love, only to watch them quickly tire of the novelty and return to their old favorites.
It can be hard to tell which toys will only be good for 30 minutes of fun and which will spark creativity and lead to hours of independent play for years to come.
When choosing Montessori-friendly toys, they should:
- delight and entice the child to play and explore
- be made using high quality materials and craftsmanship
- allow for self directed play with the opportunity for problem solving and self correction
- allow for creative and open-ended play
- allow the child to engage in a meaningful activity
- present opportunities for repetition, refinement and reflection
Here are a few Montessori-friendly toys that will grow with your child, rather than become another piece of clutter in an overflowing toy bin.
9 Montessori toy picks
This is basically 3 toys in 1.
The walker wagon is fun for younger children to push and pull. The beautiful wooden blocks encourage hours of open-ended play for children of all ages, and older children will enjoy fitting the blocks into the wagon like a puzzle.
Toys with many uses that allow for open-ended play hold children’s interest much longer than something that only has one function. Age recommendation: 18 months+
For the youngest children, the different animals in a barn set provide a great chance to absorb new vocabulary. You might simply place the animals in a basket, without the barn, for a Montessori-style treasure basket and name each animal for your child. As your child grows, the barn set can then be used for creative pretend play. Age recommendation: 3-6 years
A train set combines children’s love of building with their love of pretend. Putting the tracks together is challenging for toddlers and can help develop fine motor skills. Connecting the train cars gives children a fun, concrete experience with magnetic poles.
Train sets are also great for pretend play and additional tracks and pieces can easily be added to keep the toy fun and challenging for children as they grow. Age recommendation: 3+ years
Finding just the right level of challenge to hold a child’s interest is a hallmark of Montessori. Layer puzzles are wonderful because the level of difficulty is so easily adjusted to keep them engaging for children for years.
A younger child might enjoy working with a single layer, while older children will enjoy completing all of the layers, and even building the puzzle outside of the frame to see the layers side by side. Age recommendation: 2-4 years
Classic toys are still around for a reason and it doesn’t get much more classic than a little red wagon. A wagon is a great way to go on a walk with an older toddler, who may no longer enjoy the stroller. As children grow, they can begin to pull each other around the backyard, which is both fun and an excellent gross motor challenge. Age recommendation: 1–10 years
Younger children will enjoy matching the images to form pairs, while older children can have fun challenging their memory with this classic game.
Memory game is a great first game because it is so simple that even very young children can play, yet it can still challenge and engage older children or even adults. Memory game can be played by a child on his own, or with you or a friend. It is a fun one to bring along on vacations for rainy days – simply bring the pieces in a small bag to make it more compact. Age recommendation: 3 years +
Kids will love learning about the weather which this interactive weather station. Move the weather meter, turn the dials, slide the thermometer. This clever educational toy by Moon Picnic has 4 movable parts and 5 weather symbols to display so little meteorologists can report and forecast the weather. Age recommendation: 3 years +
It can be hard to find quiet, screen-free entertainment, especially for car and plane trips, but the Lunii Storyteller provides just that. This simple audio device is designed so that even very young children can use it independently. It is also interactive, allowing children to choose elements of the story, such as key characters and the setting.
The Lunii is perfect for those times when your child needs a quiet activity, but you aren’t necessarily available to read to them at the moment. It comes loaded with 48 stories, with more available for purchase, to keep children’s interest for years. Age recommendation: 3-8 years
One of the main things that keeps children engaged with a toy over time is challenge. Children are driven to master new skills, and will play with something seemingly endlessly if it provides the right level of challenge. The Cubetto provides great challenge, helping 3-6 year olds learn basic coding skills without the use of any screens, but it does so with a beautiful board game design.
The set comes with a book of challenges for children to complete, but more challenges are available for purchase to increase the toy’s longevity (or you could make up your own challenges together!). Age recommendation: 3-6 years
To stand the test of time and grow with your tot, a toy has to be both fun and challenging. These toys offer just that, and can engage your tot for years to come.
More on creating a Montessori home for your child
There are so many little things you can do to help empower your child with the independence and self-confidence that Montessori offers. See our article on How to create a Montessori home for your toddler for more ideas.
Thinking of sending your child to a Montessori school? See our article to find out more about the Montessori method of education.