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Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Learning Resources Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set
Learning Resources
Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set
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Feature-Packed
Bottom Line

This set allows for kiddos to learn colors, sorting, and new vocabulary.

Pros

This colorful and comprehensive toy set teaches color recognition, sorting skills, and vocabulary as kids learn new foods. It comes with 25 foods in 5 colors, as well as 5 baskets. Features an activity guide and stickers for labeling.

Cons

Not BPA-, phthalate- or lead-free.

Best Bang for the Buck
Manhattan Toy Skwish Natural Rattle and Teether
Manhattan Toy
Skwish Natural Rattle and Teether
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Best for Young Babies
Bottom Line

Generous size and open spaces give baby plenty of places to grab this intriguing, flexible rattle.

Pros

Cluster of wooden dowels, balls, and elastic ties. Returns to its original shape after play. Provides visual stimulation and helps build motor skills. Multiple color options in nontoxic finishes. Recommended from birth, but best for 4 months and older. Older children love it, too.

Cons

Occasional reports of splintering near the dowel edges and fraying of elastic.

Amberetech Wooden Toys Hundred Board
Amberetech
Wooden Toys Hundred Board
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Best for Preschoolers
Bottom Line

A fun, concrete way to give your child a head start in the basic skill of counting to 100.

Pros

Features a grid with 100 spaces for numbers 1-100. Comes with square, coin-shaped tiles. Kids learn about counting and patterns. Helps with skip counting, a precursor to multiplication. Can be used later to learn multiplication tables.

Cons

Some numbers are hard to read. Tiles pose a choking hazard for children under 3. Supervise if an older child uses around a younger one.

Kinderfeets Original Kinderboard
Kinderfeets
Original Kinderboard
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

A unique way to promote balance and sensory stimulation, even indoors.

Pros

Curved beechwood board holds up to 485 pounds. For indoor or outdoor use. Helps develop gross motor skills and balance. Provides vestibular stimulation. When used imaginatively, can serve as a step stool, tunnel, doll bed, reading rest, and more.

Cons

Pricey. Some arrived warped, which can lead to cracks and other damage.

MAGIFIRE Matching Easter Eggs
MAGIFIRE
Matching Easter Eggs
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Easiest to Use
Bottom Line

This toy is great for preschoolers learning to count, sort, and match while remaining safe.

Pros

Helps kids learn to count, sort, and match items. Made with child-safe materials and comes with a container, allowing for quick and easy storage. Helps with color recognition and number learning.

Cons

Not suitable for children under 3. A few consumer complaints about toys arriving dirty.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best Montessori learning toys

The Montessori method of teaching used in some schools and by some homeschooling parents actually starts in infancy. Montessori learning toys promote personal agency, independence, and tactile learning. These toys are often made from natural materials and are suitable for a range of ages. Whether you homeschool your children or not, Montessori learning toys can be an enriching addition to their toy collection.

Before you go shopping for Montessori learning toys, there are some important factors to consider. Different toys correspond to different ages and skill levels. As with any toy for young children, you’ll want to be mindful of small parts that could easily break off and be swallowed by babies. Other qualities to consider include design and price.

This guide will help you discover more about Montessori toys, from the benefits they offer to the factors you should consider when selecting them.

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Montessori learning toys can go hand in hand with household activities that help children learn about the world around them. Simple chores like sweeping, washing a window, or watering flowers can help develop hand-eye coordination while teaching life skills.

The Montessori method

The Montessori method was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian medical doctor who studied pedagogy extensively in late 1800s Rome. As part of her learning, she observed how children in Rome’s asylums were treated poorly. This inspired her creation of a method that centers on developmental progress for children.

In partnership with Alice Franchetti, Montessori opened her own school and refined her methodology there. By the early twentieth century, the Montessori method had spread to the United States. Following Montessori’s death in the 1950s, the Montessori method experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1960s.

What sets the Montessori method apart from other methods is its emphasis on child-centered learning. Caregivers are encouraged to create a space for safe multi-sensory exploration. Tactile learning is particularly critical in the early years, from birth to age three. At this stage, children quickly absorb new information from their environment. The first three years of life are critical for laying a foundation for future learning. Montessori toys for this age range introduce or promote concepts such as object permanence and hand-eye coordination.

In an increasingly digital age, tactile skill building is still fundamental for human growth. Even without a Montessori classroom, the right learning toys can unlock new discoveries for children.

Key considerations

Age appropriateness

Different Montessori learning toys are suited to different learning levels.

Under 12 months: Infants are just beginning to gain control of their bodies. As they begin to sit up and pull themselves up, they’ll enjoy a simple baby gym. You can also look into wooden teething toys.

Between 1 and 2 years: Babies in this age range benefit from toys they can shake, rattle, push, and pull. Hand-eye coordination begins to develop at this critical age. Wooden rattles, tambourines, and toys that toddlers can push and pull as they learn to walk are excellent choices.

Between 3 and 4 years: Montessori learning toys for these kids may focus on aspects of real life such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and building. A wooden puzzle of a world map, a basket with cloth fruits and vegetables, a wooden number set, and a mini science set are prime examples of appropriate Montessori toys for this age range.

Between 5 and 6 years: Children continue to benefit from toys with real-life components in this age range. Additionally, they can build on cognitive skills while learning more about the world around them. Consider toys that have an intensive building component, such as a 50-piece puzzle or building block set, a simplified board game that develops strategic skills rather than competitive ones, a math game, or a simplified human anatomy set.

Learning purpose

The best Montessori toys allow children to master specific tasks. An abacus, for example, teaches simple math functions. A wooden kitchen set familiarizes children with the tools needed to prepare their own food. A wooden world map allows children to explore geography and where they are in relation to the rest of the world. Consider the skills and concepts you want to introduce to your child. Chances are you can find the right Montessori learning toy for it.

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Did you know?
A key component of the Montessori method is movement. Give your child time to move around with a bike, scooter, push toy, or impromptu dance break.
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Features

Natural materials

The Montessori method centers on purposeful play that introduces infants and children to the world around them. Montessori learning toys are derived from natural materials such as metal, wood, and cloth. All three of these materials can vary in temperature and weight in a way that plastic does not. Furthermore, metal, wood, and cloth have their own “taste” and are often safer for infants to put in their mouths.

Simplicity

Many of today’s toys are loaded with colorful buttons, sounds, and all kinds of features. The plethora of choices can cause children to flit from toy to toy, unclear as to how they can completely master each one. With Montessori learning toys, less is more. The best Montessori toys are streamlined in purpose. Simple in function and design, children are able to focus on fully exploring the range of a toy before moving on to a new one. 

Design

Montessori toys tend to be appealing in their simplicity. These toys are pleasing to look at without causing sensory overload. It’s possible to find toys in fun shapes that appeal to kids such as animals (dogs and turtles, for example), planes, and cars. Quite a few of these toys are colorful as well. Primary colors are most prominent in toys made for younger ages.

Montessori learning toy prices

As with the majority of toys on the market, Montessori learning toys vary widely in price. You could pay anywhere from $10 to $250 for a Montessori learning toy.

Inexpensive

Toys in the $10 to $30 range are often for children under 24 months. Simple toys such as teething rings, small building block sets, rattles, and stacking toys foster hand-eye coordination at an affordable price. You may also find simplified puzzles for slightly older children here.

Mid-range

Toys from $30 to $60 tend to be more elaborate. Think of 100+ piece building sets, wooden jigsaw puzzles, and science sets. Quite a few of the toys in this range work best for children ages three and up. However, you may find some baby gyms for infants in this price range, too. Higher-quality materials that are less likely to break can be found here — though it’s entirely possible to find toys of decent quality in the budget range, too.

Expensive

Toys in the $60 to $120 range often emphasize movement. Wagons, bikes, balancing toys, and scooters are prime examples. Fortunately, a number of these toys grow with your child, so you’ll be able to keep them for years before your child tires of them.

Any Montessori toy that costs greater than $120 may boast exceptional quality and design.This may include large, child-size building blocks along with movement toys. If you opt to splurge, we recommend choosing something that your child (or their younger siblings) would likely enjoy for years to come.

Tips

  • To encourage play, limit distractions in the play area. Remove TVs, tablets, phones, and noisy electronics. Montessori toys are passive, so they aren’t “activated” unless a child explores them.
  • Keep your child’s toys relevant. Remove anything that they haven’t engaged with for the past several months. Chances are, your child has outgrown those toys.
  • When they’re done playing, have your child put toys away. This teaches organization and helps the child know exactly where to find the toy the next time. A simple set of child-accessible shelves is excellent for toy storage.
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You can model for your child by playing with a toy yourself. As you explore the full range of the toy’s function, your child will see how they can arrive at their own discoveries as well.

FAQ

Q. What’s the main difference between Montessori learning toys and other learning toys?

A. Montessori learning toys emphasize age-appropriate exploration. Their straightforward design allows children to engage at their own pace and uncover their own findings. Quite a few learning toys are electronic, noisy, and flashy. These appear impressive, but they’re not always age-appropriate and may distract your child rather than engage them.

Q. Are Montessori learning toys worth the high price tag?

A. Not all Montessori learning toys are expensive. You can find building blocks, stacking pieces, and puzzles at affordable prices. If outfitting your child’s toy box with Montessori toys feels rough on your wallet, you can supplement their play with real-life activities. For example, if your child is a toddler or older, they can help with cooking tasks like pouring ingredients and clean-up. These activities support the development of motor skills while teaching your child about their world.

Q. Do Montessori toys have to be wooden?

A. Wood is a common material for Montessori learning toys, but you can also find ones made of metal and cloth. Wooden toys are usually higher in quality and longer-lasting than plastic toys.

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