Move over rubber duckies, there are new bath toys in town! Whether bath time is part of your nightly routine, or you feel lucky to squeeze it in once a week, the time your child spends soaking in the tub is a learning experience. Even the youngest children are learning all the time, especially in everyday moments like bath time.
In her writings on child development, Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of self-directed and hands-on activities for learning, and what better place for that than the bath? Not only are the types of toys important, but how they are introduced and displayed is key as well. It helps to limit the number of bath toys out at one time, as fewer toys will encourage deeper and more creative play—simply rotating bath toys every few weeks will help keep their interest night after night. Also, creating a space for the child to put away their own toys is an added opportunity for independence, and there are many tub storage options that are free standing or that hang on the tub.
Below are eight Montessori-inspired toys that will help turn bath time into an engaging part of your child's day.
Just like many other Montessori materials you come across, these seem almost too simple, yet they are one of the more versatile toys that can be used for years in the tub. The cups can allow practice pouring, scooping, measuring—and you can add a few items from the kitchen like measuring spoons or a funnel for the opportunities for exploration to continue to grow.
This colorful and inviting toy allows your child to showcase their creativity in the tub, while also learning about cause and effect. The parts can be put together to make endless shapes for water to work its way through, allowing your child to investigate for themselves why water cannot run up the pipes or why pieces can't fit together certain ways. You can purchase additional pipes, cogs, and tubes to make even more of a challenge.
Typically, when selecting a Montessori material you want it to be as natural as possible, but due to the nature of bath time many toys will need to be made of plastic in order to not be damaged by repeated water exposure. If you choose plastic toys, choose ones that are as realistic as possible help the child to relate and process the world around them. Animals that look close to the real thing will provide language opportunities as well!
A classic material in a Montessori preschool classroom is the Movable Alphabet: a large box of letters that a child can use to write out words and stories before they are able to use a pen and paper. Being able to see and feel the shape of each letter, instead of just seeing it on paper, provides an opportunity for a deeper connection to letter shapes. These foam numbers and letters are a great way to get even more exposure to our alphabet and numerical system!
A water wheel is a great addition to bath time. This simple toy helps your child practice fine motor skills, learn cause and effect, and can be used in conjunction with other scooping and pouring toys.
This set of colorful cups are soft enough for a young baby to explore and are adaptable enough to use for years to come. Each cup is a different size and has holes that rain, pour or shower. Your child will be working on their fine motor skills while finding creative ways to play.
This set comes with five flutes, so your child can experiment on their own with hearing different musical notes. Adding more or less water to the flutes will cause them to play different sounds. They can even "tune" the flutes by trying to precisely get the water to the correct line. For older children, the flutes come with instructions on how to play simple songs. Who doesn't love a little music while relaxing in the tub?
Although not a bath toy, these peel and stick hooks will allow your child some independence around their bath time. They are perfect for handing a small towel or washcloth at child-height. To provide even more opportunities for your child to take control of their own bath, putting small amounts of soap and shampoo in travel containers is perfect for little hands, and helps control the amount poured out.
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