What this Montessori teacher looks for in a toy
Are you looking for toys with an educational element? Montessori teacher, Christina Clemer, shares the four guidelines to follow when choosing toys for your Tot.
As a Montessori teacher, I like to apply the Montessori philosophy when choosing toys for my son.
I think a lot of parents assume this means I must shop in a special Montessori store, but the truth is I don’t! Many educational and Montessori-inspired toys can be found on in stores and on websites just like The Tot.
The main thing I do is follow these simple guidelines when choosing his toys to ensure he has timeless pieces that will spark his creativity and challenge his expanding skills.
What to look for in a Montessori-inspired toy:
- It is made with natural materials.
- It allows for open ended play.
- It has simple features. (Avoid flashing lights and sounds.)
- It demonstrates control of error. (e.g. a puzzle)
Scroll down to learn more!
Toys made of natural materials like wood, cloth, and metal, are beautiful and draw children to them. It is a common misconception that children want or need everything to be brightly colored. This can be visually overwhelming to a child, just like it can be to an adult.
Toys made from natural materials also provide more diverse sensorial experiences than plastic toys. They offer more textures, while metal toys offer interesting differences in temperature.
Open Ended Play
Open ended play is any type of play that doesn’t have set rules, limitations or defined outcome.
Blocks are an excellent open ended toy because they allow a child to create without expectations. A child might build a tower taller than himself or a sprawling city – the options are limitless and this encourages focus, concentration and creativity.
Similarly, simple wooden animals, food toys and make-believe sets are fantastic for giving children the props they need to start developing a sense of self, strengthening their vocabulary and forming social skills.
Montessori toys may sound fancy, but in reality, they are the opposite. They are simple. They do not include lights, electronic sounds, or cartoon logos.
Choosing simple toys helps children learn to appreciate beauty and to create their own entertainment.
Control of Error
Montessori materials are all designed with what we call a “control of error.” This means that the materials are designed in a manner to help the child know if he has done something correctly. The simplest example of this is a puzzle. The child knows he’s completed it correctly if all of the pieces fit.
Control of error is important because it keeps children from looking to adults to tell them they’ve done something correctly. It encourages children to be active explorers of their own world and to judge their work for themselves.
Whether or not you practice the Montessori philosophy at home, choosing this type of toy helps your tot to explore his world with curiosity and wonder, acting as an engaged participant rather than being passively entertained.
Natural, simple toys also last far longer, so you can take pleasure in the thought of your child giving them to his own little tot someday.
My favorite Montessori-inspired toy picks from The Tot
Scroll down to see some of my son’s favorite Montessori-inspired toys from The Tot.
Milton & Goose Essential Play Kitchen with Hood – Natural
Available in more colors
Hape Chef’s Cooking Set
Milton & Goose Dairy Play Food Set
Tender Leaf Toys Wooden Breakfast Tray
Tender Leaf Toys Weather Watch Station
Tender Leaf Toys Farmyard Animals
Let Them Play Build-A-Tree Kit
Zephyr’s Nest Play & Learn Tray Bundle
Let Them Play Sticks + Blocks Set
Once Kids Eco Bricks – 145 piece set
Available in more quantities
Guidecraft Wooden Unit Block Set D – 135 pieces
Guidecraft Wooden Hollow Blocks
Make Me Iconic Doctor Kit
Make Me Iconic Dentist Kit
Make Me Iconic Surgeon/Pharmacist Kit
Floss and Rock Deep Sea Shark Jigsaw Puzzle – 80 pc
- What We’re Reading: 7 Montessori-inspired ways to learn numbers using blocks
- Looking for more educational toys? Visit The Tot Learning Essentials Shop!