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This blog post has been requested so many times!
So I am sharing with you the most popular toys in my playgroup or those that were well used by my children.
I have a list of baby toys here.
This one will focus on the toddler age. I have classified my suggestions into different categories. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Disclaimer: Maria Montessori has never designed toys. Montessori is not copyrighted. I consider these toys being in line with the Montessori principles. I have also many blog posts that discuss less toys and non-toys alternatives.
We make safe, natural wooden toys and educational material for Montessori parents.
- A pop up tunnel. The Ikea one is very sturdy. It is still going strong after 12 years of good use.
- a shopping trolley - it needs to be sturdy enough so a metallic one is a good option. The plastic ones we have come across in playgroup were always falling when pushed.
- a doll's buggy: one of the most popular toy for both my children! Honestly, we had the cheapest one from a high street toy's shop.
- Push along toys are super popular in my playgroup. We have one very similar to this one.
- Pikler triangle - Technically not Montessori but I understand the benefits of this one. It was non existent when my children were little but it has so many benefits. I recommend the ones on Yes Bebe (enter MONTE at checkout for a 10% off). Be aware of the fakes that are currently advertised widely.
- We tried the wobble board but my children were already 6 and 10 so I didn't invest in this toy. But I believe it has a very long lifespan in term of play. We were gifted this one from Curvy to try for a few weeks. It is a local UK based company that produce their board in Spain. The designer told me that it is the largest board on the market, hence it is great for older children and even for adults.
- a soft ball from Ikea - Most children go through a trowing phase so a soft ball is always useful.
- my children have enjoyed a wheelybug
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- Gonge stones. I bought these "plastic" stones second hand, from a local nursery. I was surprised how popular they have become with the toddlers in my playgroup. I also use them in my yoga classes to practice the tree pose!
- A walker. You need a very sturdy one with a brake. This one has been recommended everywhere. A plastic one will be too light. I had the Ikea one but I don't recommend it as it's too light.
- a wheelbarrow: my son's favourite for years
Toddlers, generally, love to stack, to open and close and to push things through holes.
This butterfly is an exclusive design by LilouToys. You can introduce it to a toddler and there will be so many activities your child can do as they grow:
So here are some of the fine motor skills toys we have:
- Hape Stack and Twist - similar here
- We have the Haba Peg board and it was very well used in the playgroup. I lost one piece though!
- I love the Plan toy sheep. Look how it works in this video
- A ball ramp. We absolutely love our Vilac ball ramp. My daughter received it for her first birthday!
- a simple enough shape sorter. This one is from Haba.
- a latching board. The Melissa and Doug is a bit busy but it is a very affordable option. And it was super popular with my children.
- Threading beads. These big chunky beads are from a Melissa and Doug set.
- Nuts and bolts - this one is an American brand hard to find in the UK. We have also a set of wooden nuts and bolts similar to this one. I present 3 or 4 at a time then I had the wooden board at a later stage.
There are so many options here! For toddlers, focus on puzzles that have a knob at first then 2 to 4 pieces puzzles.
I have a blog post here about puzzles.
I love this one as a first set for a young toddler
At the moment, I really love this brand,
We have this one
And this one
- an Easel. My daughter received one when she was two years old.
- bingo daubers or dot markers. My daughter was a big fan! I use to make lots of game on paper with these ones.
Present the materials in their art area with this beautiful flower tray, that can also be used as a sorting tray:
- a classic set of wooden toys. So many options here! We had a cheap one from Lidl and we received one Haba set.
- My first Marble run from Haba. Be aware that young toddlers will need support to build it.
- An eco-friendly alternative to Duplo - 10% with the code MONTE
- Magnetic tiles. Be aware it contains magnets and must be used under supervision.
- Schleich animals. Start with animals that your child is familiar with. Best place to buy them is in your local Garden centre!
- Animal magnets - I bought two sets and my daughter used to match them, either on the fridge or we used them with a cookie sheet.
- hand puppets and finger puppets: I have many from the brand Folkmanis and from the Little Puppet Company. Go to your local RSBP or Woodland trust shop!
I've been eyeing this one for a while! I used to go to a music class with my son and they were singing a song with this set. I cannot remember the lyrics but it was fab!
- an audio player, we love the Yoto as the cards look like the cover of a book, so they are not distracting from the purpose of the storytelling. The Yoto can be used as a night light, a kid radio, has podcasts and meditation. The stories are for children up to 12 years old so it's long lasting product for sure! Use this link for a 10% off.
- Tactile puzzles like this one from Yes Bebe - 10% off with the code MONTE
- Amazing blocks to hold nature treasures A lovely way to let little one explore natural items safely.
- I have a blog about musical ressources, see here.
- Percussion hand bells. I had a cheaper set that is now half broken but could be good for a home use. And we had this one in the last preschool I managed.
Our first board game was Ladybird from Orchard toy. My daughter was just two years old.
The brand Haba has several first board games for children aged 2+. You can find them on Myriad online toyshop.
I hope this gift list will give you some ideas!
More ideas below:
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Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.
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