The Best Montessori Toys to Encourage Thoughtful Play

Strengthen their imagination for open-ended play with these hands-on toys

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Verywell Family / Lecia Landis

Montessori toys are simple and typically made of natural materials and are rooted in reality (so think butterflies instead of fairies). These minimalist-style toys are designed to help your child learn and expand their world through open-ended play. Created to address specific developmental milestones and skills, these toys are purpose-driven, but still provide plenty of fun.

Reviewed & Approved

The Plan Toys 50 Block Set are perfect for open-ended play whether through building, learning, stacking, or simply playing. For a budget-friendly option, we suggest Edushape See-Me 4-Inch Sensory Balls.

Simple toys that focus on one concept (shapes, colors, etc.) are a key idea in Montessori thinking. You should also look for toys that encourage children to build, interact, learn, and manipulate. We carefully considered age recommendations, simplicity, function, realism, design, value, and toy safety when reviewing products.

Here are the best Montessori toys for your family.

Best Set: Plan Toys 50 Block Set

Plan Toys 50 Block Set

Source: Plan Toys

The Plan Toys 50 Block Set ranks high on our list because these blocks are simple, easy to use, and perfect for manipulating. Basic blocks are perfect for building, learning, stacking, and playing. The open-ended nature of blocks allows for endless fun and is appropriate for kids of all ages. Made of 100% wood, the 50-piece set includes blocks in 11 different shapes.

Best Budget: Edushape See-Me 4-Inch Sensory Balls

Edushape See-Me 4-Inch Sensory Balls

Courtesy of Amazon

Perfect for kids 6 months old and up, this budget-friendly four-pack of sensory balls provides satisfying fun as kiddos kick, squeeze, roll, toss, and play. Encouraging sensory exploration is a key tenet of Montessori education. These colorful and textured balls fit that exact need and are fun for years to come.

Best for Infants: Elite Montessori Object Permanence Box

Elite Montessori Object Permanence Box

Source: Elite Montessori

Recommended for babies 6 months old and up, this simple little toy is packed with learning. Made of solid wood, the lack of color and decorations help young children focus on the task at hand. Babies will practice precise hand movements when they pick up and put the ball into the hole.

By seeing that the ball did not disappear but instead rolled out of the box and into the attached tray, they’ll be learning object permanence. Youngsters can repeat these motions again and again and then try with other objects and toys, seeing what fits and what doesn’t.

Best for Toddlers: Lewo Rainbow Stacker

Lewo Rainbow Stacker

Source:

Imaginations will run wild as playrooms are brightened with this versatile wooden rainbow toy. The colorful rainbow arches can help kids with constructive play, as they turn blocks into a bridge, tunnel, vehicle, bed, or be used for color, size, and comparison recognition.

Providing creative possibilities beyond the scope of standard blocks, this stackers will also look beautiful on a shelf. Made of wood and painted with non-toxic paint, this set is safe for toddlers.

Best Versatile: Funny Supply Wooden Balance Board

Funny Supply Wooden Balance Board

Source: Funny Supply

Well made and super sturdy, welcome a 35-inch balance board into your home and enjoy a world of fun. This board can support up to 485 pounds, and kids will love exploring and playing with such a versatile toy. Made for indoor or outdoor play, use the board as a slide, car track, seesaw, tunnel, boat, rocker, table, step stool, chair, soccer goal, bridge, and so, so much more.

The possibilities are endless, and while kids use their imagination, they’ll be gaining awareness of their body, strengthening their balance, and embarking on all kinds of make-believe adventures.

Best for Big Kids: Tegu Block Set

Tegu Block Set

Source: Tegu

Attractive, simple, and loads of fun, older kids will love building with stylishly designed magnetic wooden blocks. The 42-piece set includes nine differently shaped blocks and can easily be added to other sets or other blocks. While they are safe for kids 12 months old and up, older kids will love the challenge of building complex, open-ended structures that have the support of magnets, which allow them to test their limits and creativity.

Best Outdoor: Sunny & Fun Balance Stepping Stones

Sunny & Fun Balance Stepping Stones

Source: Sunny & Fun

Promote balance, coordination, and creativity as kids play alone or with others with this unique set of eight plastic stepping stones. With two sizes, the stepping stones can be used indoors or outside and are crafted with super-safe slip-resistant bottoms. Parents praise the open-ended fun these toys provide and appreciate how they stack for easy storage.

Best Subscription: Lovevery Play Kits

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Lovevery Play Kit

Courtesy of Lovevery

An amazing solution for parents looking to grow their collection of Montessori-based toys, Lovevery delivers a play kit every two to three months with toys catered to your baby’s age and stage. Simply enter your baby's birth date, and the kit arrives on your doorstep with toys ready to play with. You'll be impressed by the high-quality toys, thoughtful parent guide, and how spot-on the age and stage toys are for growing kiddos.

Final Verdict

If Montessori toys are especially important to your family, the Lovevery subscription kit (view at Lovevery) is a foolproof way to incorporate age-appropriate toys into your child’s life. For a one-time purchase, the Plan Toys 50 Block Set (view at Amazon) is a toy that is fun for all ages and will provide tons of open-ended playtime for your family.

What to Look for in Montessori Toys 

Simplicity

When too much stimulation or information is presented in one toy, children’s developing brains can be overwhelmed. Simple toys that focus on one concept (shapes, colors, etc.) are a key idea in Montessori thinking. Most are made of natural elements like wood, so kids can learn about texture, temperature, and weight just by playing with the toy.

Function

Montessori toys encourage children to build, interact, learn, and manipulate. This helps kids develop an understanding of ideas, consequences, and cause and effect. Look for toys that require active participation, not passive spectating.

Realism

One of the most important features of Montessori toys is realism. This means the toys should look as realistic and true to form as possible. For example, miniature animal figurines should be visually accurate to the actual animal including the right color, shape, and proportions. By choosing toys that reflect the world that your child lives in, they will be encouraged to develop their imagination naturally during their first six years of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a Montessori education?

    A Montessori education is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. The teachers in a Montessori classroom offer age-appropriate activities for the students, but they have the freedom to make their own choices about how they want to learn and express their creativity through both group and individual activities and games.

  • What age is appropriate for Montessori toys?

    Montessori toys are available for all ages and developmental levels. Montessori toys should be simple and encourage creativity, like blocks and balls, without being overwhelming, like electronic toys with lots of bells and whistles. Montessori toys are toys that children actively play with, not toys meant to merely entertain them.

  • What are the main concepts of Montessori learning?

    Montessori learning is characterized by beauty, harmony, order and closeness to nature. The sparse learning environment should facilitate movement and activity and only include materials that will support the students' development. This is meant to help children, especially young children, follow their natural path of development by interacting with their environment as they choose to.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of an 11-year-old son, a 7-year-old son, and a 3-year old daughter. Maya does appreciate open-ended play toys that are simple and fun for all three of her kids, so maybe she’s more Montessori-based than she ever would have thought.