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A quick look at the best Montessori toys

As the parent, toy stores can be overwhelming! Trying to help your child choose the right toy that’s fun, educational, and affordable can be enough to leave your head spinning.

We understand. We’ve been there. And that’s why we’ve created a guide to our favorite Montessori toys for all ages.

Why might you be interested in Montessori toys for your child? What makes a good Montessori toy, and what are some tried and true recommendations? Allow us to break it down for you.

The Montessori method of teaching was developed in 1897 by Maria Montessori.

What is it? Put most simply, it’s an education style that aims to create ambitious, self-sufficient adults. Montessori play is child directed and strives to develop self-motivation in all areas of the child’s life.

Important elements of this method include:

  • Learning through play. Toys are focused on mastering a particular skill that matches with a child’s developmental stage. They’re generally realistic in design and made from simple, natural materials. Toys are stored in such a way that is easy for a child to see them, get them independently, and put them away when done.
  • Child-led direction. Children get to choose the activity they wish to work on, and from a very young age children are encouraged to take an active role in caring for themselves. This is thought to help instill self-motivation and independence as well as encourage sustained attention to tasks.
  • Uninterrupted work time. Children get to work at their own pace and focus as long as they want on their tasks. There is an emphasis on “free choice” and allowing the child to work as fast or slow as needed while they master skills.

So, how do you know that you’ve found a Montessori toy? You’ll want to look for things like:

  • Natural materials. Wood, wool, cotton, ceramic, and even rock are all common materials in Montessori toys. Not only does this match with what children find in the real world, but they’re likely to be nontoxic and safe if they end up in your little one’s mouth.
  • Developing a single skill. Montessori toys are designed to work on a single skill or concept, which can later be built upon to develop more sophisticated concepts. Good examples? A single shape puzzle or pounding bench.
  • Simple and realistic in design. Don’t expect flashing lights and batteries! Montessori toys are traditionally fairly simple in design and encourage open-ended imaginative play. Maria Montessori also tended to favor things rooted in reality, so the more authentic the toy is in looks or function, the better.

When choosing our favorite Montessori toys, we looked at things like appearance, utility, quality, and cost. We also considered what parents of children who actually played with the toys had to say, since we know that’s important to you, too.

A note on pricing

Since many of the Montessori toys on the market are handmade, the prices vary widely depending on the manufacturer. Toys for younger ages also tend to be less expensive.

Since it’s hard to compare prices for specialty toys such as these, we’ve left off the pricing guide that you typically find on our product roundups.

Best Montessori toy for babies

Monti Kids Level 3 Montessori Box

This box, designed for babies ages 7 to 10 1/2 months, includes six different toys designed to inspire specific elements of your child’s development. For instance, the object permanence box aims to help babies develop the all-important skill of understanding that something still exists when it’s out of view.

We love that this box also comes with written directions on how and when to introduce each toy and links to online content designed to help the parent encourage learning through play.

Best Montessori toy for toddlers

Heir+Loom Kids First Chunky Shape Puzzle

With only three shapes, this puzzle made from maple and cherry wood is a perfect introduction to puzzles and problem solving. The chunky, easy to grab shapes are ideal for developing fine motor skills without overwhelming your tot.

Best Montessori toy for preschoolers

Lily & River Little Climber

This foldable play structure and slide is designed for children ages 6 months to 5 years. It’s crafted of birchwood, oakwood, and stainless steel hardware, and is somewhat customizable in design.

By practicing on a climber their own size, your preschooler will develop important gross motor skills like balance, coordination, and muscle strength. But they’ll also grow in confidence and creativity, too.

Best Montessori toy for school aged kids

Coogam Wooden Geoboard and Pattern Cards

A fun way to teach geometric concepts and spatial awareness, this toy also promotes fine motor skills. The included pattern cards offer suggestions as students initially explore and learn, but when they’re ready, their imagination is the limit!

Best Montessori toy to grow with your child

Grimm’s 6-Piece Rainbow Stacker

The bright colors and nested arches make for countless opportunities to sort, build, and create. As fine motor skills and creativity advance, your child may find that they can balance the shapes in ways they weren’t able to before!

While the price tag is steep, this is a toy that can grow with your child. It’s also a beautiful addition to a toy shelf.

Best Montessori toy for teething

Loulou Lollipop: Bubble Silicone And Wood Teether

The smooth, wooden rings on this teether get rave reviews from parents and babies alike. The simple design is beautiful (not to mention easy to grasp/hold), and the materials it’s made of are high quality, so you don’t have to worry about what’s going in your baby’s mouth.

Best Montessori toy for open-ended play

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Blocks

Wooden blocks offer endless creative play opportunities. Children at many different development levels can use them to advance a variety of skills, too.

While there are foam, paper, and plastic blocks that have a cheaper price tag, the solid wood of these blocks stands out as most in line with the Montessori philosophy.

One of the best perks for this particular set? They come in a solid wooden box to make it easy to store the 60 blocks when your young scholar is done.Meli

Best overall Montessori toy

Lovevery The Play Kits

If you’re worried that you don’t know enough about child development to choose the right toy, a subscription box filled with Montessori toys might be the answer.

Lovevery will ship a box every 2 to 3 months filled with toys for your child that target developmentally appropriate skills. These toys get rave reviews for their quality, aesthetic, and child enjoyment.

You don’t need lots of flashing lights and loud sounds to make a great toy. (Proof: The cardboard box your child finds more interesting than anything else in the room!)

If you’re looking for something to engage your child’s brain and stimulate their development, a Montessori toy from this list might just be the toy you’re seeking.