With so many toys out there, it can be hard to find intentional gifts for our children that are both fun and meaningful. Using a Montessori approach to your shopping doesn’t mean your choices need to be academic. There are plenty of Montessori-friendly toys that are beautiful and engaging, but also appeal to children’s developmental needs. Not sure how to choose the best Montessori gifts for kids? We can help!

Montessori toys are usually made from natural materials, non-electronic and foster independent play, creativity and concentration. Montessori materials are simple and somewhat minimalist in general, and this is especially true for infants and young toddlers. The world is so stimulating for these little ones already, that simple toys made of natural materials spark the child’s curiosity without being overwhelming. Montessori toys are also a great investment since they’re generally well-made and often designed to grow with your little one.

The holiday season is a great excuse to stock the toy shelf with some Montessori gifts. We’ve curated some of our favorites for babies, toddlers and kids that they’ll love as much as you will.

Here are some great options for the littlest ones on your list this year!

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of our holiday gift guides!

Our favorite Montessori gifts for babies

aerial-shot-of-child-playing-on-lovevery-activity-gym

Lovevery

$140

1. The Play Gym

From their earliest days all the way through toddlerhood, this stage-based play gym brings all kinds of age-appropriate Montessori activities together. Starting with the brilliant five zone play mat with flaps that can reveal or conceal in order to prevent overstimulation, little ones can explore sounds, colors and textures. Add in the collection of interchangeable toys (including an organic cotton high contrast Montessori ball, sustainably-sourced wooden batting ring, and an organic cotton teether with BPA-free silicone ring) and cards, and they’ll be busy and learning for hours. Even better, as they grow it can be transformed into a cozy fort to play in!

 

Plan Toys First Stacking Ring

Plan Toys

$15

2. First Stacking Ring

Stacking rings have been a part of early play for generations. And for good reason! They help babies develop and refine their hand-eye coordination and dexterity, while presenting a set of challenges that grow along with them. Start by handing them one ring to place and work up to placing them in size order.

 

black-and-white-image-cards

Wee Gallery

$15.99

3. Black & White Image Cards

As young babies can’t yet see color, simple black and white images are the most striking to them. This set is great because the images can be used individually, or strung together into a book.

 

object-permanence-box-with-plastic-toy

Elite Montessori Store

$18.99

4. Object permanence box

As your baby drops the ball into the hole, watches it disappear, and then finds it again, he learns that things do not necessarily disappear when he can’t see them anymore.

 

Monti Kids Program

Monti Kids

$195

5. Montessori Program Level 1

If you’re new to Montessori, the Monti Kids Montessori Programs are a great way to get started. Level 1 helps nurture baby’s sight skills, concentration and coordination with a collection of toys and parent education. The set comes with a gorgeous wooden play gym, progressive Montessori mobiles and a collection of graspable toys that grow with them. Each purchase also includes one on one parent coaching, a virtual curriculum and access to their online community of parents. You’ll be an expert in no time!

 

global-babies-book

Global Babies

$5.99

6. Global Babies book

It is never too early to start reading to your baby and books that feature real images of people, nature and everyday items are a great place to start.

 

Fat Brain Toys InnyBin

Fat Brain Toys

$25.95

7. InnyBin

Instead of a shape sorter that can get a bit frustrating at this age, a simplified InnyBin allows them to easily take shapes in and out.

 

wooden-shape-puzzle-with-primary-colors

Fly Whale

$15.99

8. Wooden shape puzzle

This is a great first puzzle as it is made of beautiful wood and has only three pieces.

 

loulou lollipop bubble silicone and wood rattle, one of the best teething toys for babies

Loulou Lollipop

$25

9. Bubble Wood and Silicone Teether

This beautifully handmade ring is a grabbing toy, teether and rattle all rolled into one. It’s perfect for little ones exploring tactile senses as they practice reaching, grasping and hand-eye coordination. Like everything they make, it’s crafted from birch wood and food-grade silicone so you’ll never have to worry about toxins or chemicals

Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set

Infantino

$11.83

10. Textured Multi Ball Set

Encouraging sensory exploration is a huge part of the Montessori philosophy. These sensory balls are brightly colored, have varied textures, and are perfectly sized for chubby little hands.

eggs kids can play with

Haba

$34.99

11. Wooden Egg Shakers

Shake it up, baby! Each of these brightly colored eggs makes a different sound, encouraging musical abilities in even the tiniest among us.

Big Jig Toys Sensory Blocks

Bigjigs Toys

$35.50

12. Sensory blocks

This eight-block set gives little ones a lot to discover! Each block includes a different surprise to help explore cause and effect while building motor skills and coordination. And while they’re great on their own, they also integrate seamlessly with a growing block collection! They’re made from sustainable beechwood and non-toxic water-based paint, so no worries when they end up in their mouth.

 

Our favorite Montessori gifts for toddlers

deMoca Montessori Busy Board

deMoca

$39.95

1. Montessori Busy Board

A Busy Board is a great way for preschool kids to practice fine motor skills which eventually translate into more independence. From zipping and tying to buckling velcroing, they’ll not even realize they’re learning since they’re having so much fun.

Sarah's Silks - Set of 5 Enchanted Mini Playsilks

Sarah's Silks

$36

2. Set of 5 Play Silks

Play silks are a perfect vehicle for open-ended play—and one that your kiddo will keep coming back to. Turn them into flags when exploring new lands, a cape for saving the day or a quick cover for a simple game of peek-a-boo. These Montessori faves are costly upfront, but so worth the price.

kids-playing-on-a-navy-nugget-play-couch

Nugget

$259

3. Nugget play couch

Is it a couch? A bed? A spaceship? Or a castle? Only your little one will know the answer! Encouraging open-ended play is a Montessori must—and this ingenious kid-sized “couch” with four separate foam pieces offers endless play possibilities. Your little one will love that it’s fun, soft, and endlessly rearrange-able, and you’ll love that it’s safe, free of harmful chemicals, and machine washable.

 

PIccalio Pikler Triangle

Piccalio

$329

4. Pikler Trianlge

Pikler triangles are a staple in Montessori classrooms and have subsequently gained popularity at home as well. Developed as a tool to help improve motor development skills, to forge independent activity, and to allow freedom of movement, they’re endlessly entertaining for toddlers and bigger kids alike. This foldable version comes with detachable ramp that features a rock climbing wall on one side and a flat surface for sliding on the other.

lovevery-block-set

Lovevery

$90

5. Wooden blocks

Open-ended toys like wooden blocks encourage creativity and long stretches of concentration. This one is the only block set you’ll ever need.

 

wooden-instrument-set

Melissa & Doug

$25

6. Musical instruments

Exploring rhythm and music together is a great activity for those cold winter months when outdoor play may be more limited.

 

wishbone-balance-bike

Wishbone Design Studio

$219

7. 2-in-1 Balance bike

Unlike bikes with pedals and training wheels, balance bikes make learning to ride effortless and fun. By learning the key skill of balance first, they’re able to progress to riding without having to “unlearn” bad habits that take hold when riding with training wheels. This version from New Zealand brand Wishbone is pricier than others, but designed to last far longer than most models with a 2-in-1 frame that can be flipped as they grow. The heirloom quality construction means it can easily be passed down as well.

 

sand-toys

Hape

$15.59

8. Sand toys

Sensory play is a critical part of the Montessori method. This beach set is great for sand or water and allows little ones to scoop, pour, sift and experiment.

 

wooden-pop-up-toy

The Original Toy Company Store

$17.44

9. Pop-up toy

This toy is so simple, yet so entertaining for babies and young toddlers, who love practicing taking things out and putting them back in.

 

gardening-set-toy

Kinderific

$19.95

10. Gardening set

A quality child-sized gardening set is one of the earliest ways small children can help with yard work.

 

wheelbarrow-for-kids

Radio Flyer

$59.99

11. Wheelbarrow

If they’re really ready to dig in (see what we did there?) and help, a kid-sized wheelbarrow and tools gives them all the license they need.

 

melissa-and-doug-cleaning-set

Melissa & Doug

$33.99

12. Cleaning set

Toddlers love to help with whatever household chores you are doing. A mop, dust pan and broom just their size allows them to clean alongside you.

 

Piccalio Mini Chef Helper

Piccalio

$199.99

13. Learning tower

A learning tower is the perfect tool for the curious toddler. There are so many uses here, but we especially love it for all things in the kitchen, whether it’s cooking, baking, or even learning to meal prep or wash dishes. This one from Piccalio is sturdy and adjustable to grow with your child but best of all, it can transform into a toddler-sized table for snacktime. It’s an investment, but one that we think is well worth the splurge! (Check out more of our favorite learning towers!)

 

rainbow-stacker

Coogam

$16.99

14. Rainbow stacker

This stacker looks beautiful on the shelf and also offers a challenge and introduces the concept of rainbow order.

 

felt-weather-toy-set

Melissa & Doug

$20.95

15. Felt weather board

As growing toddlers become increasingly aware of and interested in the wider world around them, the weather becomes a fascinating topic.

 

Our favorite Montessori gifts for kids

lucas-tower-wooden-toy

Plan Toys

$24.99

1. Lucas Tower

Here’s the challenge. Move the entire stack to another rod, one disk at a time—without stacking a larger disk on top of a smaller one. Designed in 1883 by French mathematician Edouard Lucas, this puzzle is popular among Montessori teachers as it helps master problem solving, logic and enhance math skills.

 

lace-toy-set

BM Toys

$15.95

2. Lacing beads

There are so many fun ways for your 3-year-old to play with these colorful beads and necklaces. They encourage fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and open-ended play.

 

parts-of-the-body-puzzles

Wonder Toys

$22.99

3. Parts of the body puzzles

These challenging puzzles depict the human body in layers, from a skeleton, to the organs to the anatomy. It also comes with detailed educational cards to learn the different parts of the human body.

 

wooden-hammer-toy

IKEA

$18

4. Hammer toy

This early hammering work is great for hand-eye coordination and introducing a real life skill. This one provides a greater challenge.

 

kids pattern blocks

Melissa & Doug

$20.24

5. Pattern Blocks

Exploring patterns is highly engaging and great for pre-math skills.

Age: 3-6 years old

eeBoo Life on Earth Memory and Matching Game

eeBoo

$17.74

6. Life on Earth Memory and Matching Game

A memory game is a wonderful gift that grows with your child, as younger children enjoy simply examining and matching the pictures and older children love the actual game.

 

wooden-carpenter-set

Hape

$26.56

7. Young carpenter's set

Once a child can be safe and in control, giving them real tools builds confidence and allows them to participate in purposeful work.

Age: 3-6 years old

wooden-bingo-game-for-kids

Kiko + GG

$52

8. Bingo

Simple games like bingo allow young children to practice playing a game with friends, including how to win and lose graciously. This one from modern-minimalist brand kiko & gg also helps teach numbers 1-50 and bonus! looks impossibly adorable on the shelf.

 

magnets-toy-set

Lauri

$12.99

9. Fun with magnets set

Toys that support scientific exploration encourage your child to be his own teacher and keep his curiosity alive.

 

yoga-mat-for-kids

Gaiam

$17.98

10. Yoga pretzels with yoga mat

Yoga helps children learn self-regulation, calming breathing techniques and control of their bodies. Bonus: Add these yoga cards!

 

japanese-paint-brush-set

Buddha Board

$34.95

11. Japanese brush painting set

Calming activities like Japanese brush painting help children in Montessori classrooms learn to be peaceful and can do the same in your home.

 

origami-kit-for-kids

My First Origami

$14.95

12. Origami set

Origami encourages development of spacial skills and a different way of thinking and children love seeing all of the things they can create with just paper.

 

kids-knife-and-peeler-set

Opinel

$49

13. Knife & Peeler set

Cutting, chopping and prepping fruits and veggies is a great way to get little ones involved in cooking (with supervision of course). This set offers the real thing with safety measures that keep it age-appropriate.

 

Kuhn Rikon Kinderkitchen Mixing Set

Kuhn Rikon

$19.99

14. Kinderkitchen Mixing Set

Same goes for mixing and baking! The Kinderkitchen collection from Kuhn Rikon is designed with real cooking by mini chefs in mind. This three-piece set is great for whipping up their next greatest creation.

Learning Advantage Nature's Footsteps Walking Path

Learning Advantage

$124.99

15. Nature's Footsteps Walking Path

Bring the outdoors in with these realistic play mats. Each leaf, rock, log and stump is made from grippy rubber to create endless patterns for hopping, skipping and jumping across.

A version of this story was published October 27, 2021. It has been updated.