Some toys have hidden depths. They educate while they entertain, teach while they engage, and encourage emotional development while they inspire.
Montessori toys do all these things, and they do it in a fun, colourful and appealing way so learning is natural, unforced, and enjoyable.
What Distinguishes Montessori Toys from Others
Montessori toys are practical, grounded in the real world, and simple. Children need to actively use them, manipulating them and using all their senses to explore the possibilities.
They also challenge children to think and figure out how stuff works. Deceptively simple puzzles, such as fitting basic geometric shapes into the proper space, teach toddlers how the shapes are related to each other and how they differ.
Toys that fall into the Montessori range usually have a single purpose, but multiple ways to achieve that purpose. The objective might be to stack blocks, but there could be different-sized blocks or different shapes to fit together, creating dozens of different ways to make a tower.
They’re also well-focused so as not to confuse. Shape sorting games, for instance, may have circles, triangles, squares, shells, or flowers. You won’t find many random shapes that can’t be named.
Unlike many electronic or battery toys where actions and sounds are not actually related to each other, Montessori toys relate directly to the physical world. A Montessori example would be a bell. The baby hitting a real bell hears the ring and learns to associate the sound with the object making it. This is different from pressing a button to simulate a bell sound.
Spatial Awareness and Motor Functions
Manipulating shapes, fitting puzzles together, crawling through tunnels, pull-along toys, or pushing cars and trains around a play mat all teach vital motor and spatial skills.
Larger toys encourage physical activity, so kids learn to balance and climb safely. Smaller toys and puzzles help them develop hand-to-eye coordination as they assemble structures from blocks or fit pegs into holes.
Learning physical confidence and manual dexterity are big milestones in early years’ development.
Natural, Sensory Materials
Montessori toys are made from natural materials, using lots of wood, fabric, and some metal. There’s not much plastic in the range.
As well as making the toys long-lasting and durable, natural materials also make them delightfully sensory to little fingers. Wood and metal change as they’re handled too, becoming warmer.
The two materials also taste different and can have a variety of textures and weights. All parents know how babies love to put items in their mouths, so Montessori toys and teethers are a safe way to let a baby or toddler get that important sensory experience.
Developing Social and Emotional Intelligence
Educational toys that encourage kids role play games to help children develop their sense of empathy and self-motivation, caring for and sharing with others while learning to identify and manage their emotions.
Learning about the emotional and social side of life helps kids build their confidence and self-esteem as well as improve their communication skills.
Enhancing Concentration and Critical Thinking
Some Montessori toys ask kids to focus on a task until it’s completed. There are card games, memory games, and activities based on reading or maths. They’re designed to help children concentrate and pay attention, both of which are vital skills needed through school and into adulthood.
Concentrating or thinking for extended periods gets easier with practice, so Montessori toys are always fun and engaging. They allow kids to develop at their own pace, without being compelled or getting frustrated.
Despite offering all these educational, life-skill benefits, Montessori toys don’t dictate to children how they should play. Imagination, experimentation, and creativity are just as important as learning to follow instructions.
Once children experience success through investigation, their confidence leaps and they’re empowered to imagine even greater things.
When you’re looking for ways to open up your child’s horizon and encourage imaginative learning, having a few Montessori toys in the playroom makes for a grand start.