Want to know what Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, and Google’s Larry Page and Sergei Brin have in common?
They’re all ‘Montessori kids’.
WHAT IS MONTESSORI?
Many of us have heard of the Montessori Method, developed by Dr Maria Montessori around 1897. The method, which is growing in popularity in the US and around the world, is based on Dr Maria’s belief that a child’s learning progresses naturally through stages rather than school grades, and advocates for a child’s individuality and self-directed learning.
It’s a method that seems to work. Research shows that kids who attend Montessori schools have a higher level of skills like self-discipline, learning autonomy, time management, focus, critical thinking and problem solving. They also tend to enjoy learning a lot more than non-Montessori kids.
That’s not to say that your child has to attend a Montessori school to reap the method’s rewards. Learning takes place whenever your child plays. And by giving your child the opportunity and tools to play Montessori-style, you’ll be encouraging a multi-sensory, hands-on learning environment that they’ll relish and benefit from.
WHAT ARE MONTESSORI TOYS?
They’re usually made of wood, wool, cotton… Natural materials that connect your child with nature, are safer to mouth, and have different weights and textures.
They don’t blink, buzz, flash or move on their own. Montessori toys encourage kids to use their imaginations and motor skills. Absolutely no batteries are needed.
They have a purpose. They can be child-sized versions of something already in your home, like a garden rake, which helps a child be physically active and feel like they’re contributing to their world.
They focus on teaching one skill at a time, like a simple abacus, which won’t overwhelm a young mind with too many tasks and choices all at once.
MONTESSORI-INSPIRED TOYS FOR TODDLERS (1-3 YEARS)
Building Blocks Wagon (12 months+), $24.99
21 bright wooden blocks and shapes that are sized just right for little hands, and fit perfectly into a wooden push-and-pull wagon. The well-weighted blocks introduce toddlers to shapes and color, and develop critical thinking and fine motor skills, all while encouraging open-ended creative play.
Smart Shapes Sorting Cube (18 months+), $12.99
A playroom classic, this smoothly sanded sorting cube comes with 12 chunky, wooden shapes, and is sized small enough to pack into your diaper bag and take along to the grandparents. While toddlers may need some help with the sliding removable lid, it’s nevertheless a great toy for teaching fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, and all about color and shapes.
Rainbow Rings Stacking Tower (18 months+), $14.99 – LOW STOCK
Help your toddler hone their hand-eye coordination, problem-solving and fine motor skills, as they sort and stack the chunky wooden rings according to size. The wobbly base adds to the fun, and also teaches them about cause and effect.
Busy Barnyard Farm Animals Playset (3 years+), $49.99
Encourage pretend play and help your child develop a meaningful connection with the world with this lovely little farm animals and barn playset. Toddlers will engage with all 22 accessories, including 14 farm animals, a corral, and two-story, red-roofed barn complete with closing doors.
Stock Car Ramp Racer (3 years+), $29.99
Toddlers will be fascinated by cause-and-effect as they watch cars speeding down this wooden ramp. With four levels and 3 cars, this quality buy is not only fun to play with, it also builds fine and gross motor skills, and develops hand-eye coordination and spatial recognition.
MONTESSORI-INSPIRED TOYS FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS (3-5 YEARS)
Constructables! 150 Pine Wood Building Planks (3 years+), $34.99
While we have plenty of different block sets – ranging from the classic 100-piece wooden block set, to themed sets with different shapes, like the Daydream Castle block set and even a pirate ship block set – the Constructables wooden plank set remains a firm favorite with Oh Goodie Goodies parents. 150 plain planks, all uniformly sized and made from smoothly sanded New Zealand pine, this is a truly Montessori toy that stimulates imaginations, creativity, hand-eye coordination and more. Check out the Constructables video for inspiration!
Abacus (4 years+), $19.99
This classroom classic is a staple for kids learning about math and even color and pattern recognition. It visually reinforces concepts such as counting and numbers, makes it easy to understand addition and subtraction, and is especially good for children who are kinesthetic learners.
Mini Marble Mayhem (3 years+), $25.99
This 32-piece wooden marble set gets young ones to construct their own marble run creations, building their gross and fine motor skills, and encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving. As they build more complex runs, they’ll use logic and reasoning to figure out exactly where they want their marbles to end up. A truly fantastic STEM toy for the littles, this is made out of solid wood and colorfully finished with child-safe water-based paints. A reminder though to supervise younger children when they play with marbles, as they are a choking hazard.
Colorful Counting Number Stacker (18 months+), $17.99
Entice little ones to learn about math, counting, numbers, sequencing, patterns and color with this hands-on, stimulating number stacker. Show them how to sort the wooden disks by color and amount, then stack them on the pegs from short to tall, finally arranging the number tiles in the slots at the base of each peg. Fantastic for fine motor and visual-spatial skills.