With the holiday season approaching, many families are trying to find the perfect gifts for their little ones. The options are unlimited nowadays, but you can never go wrong with educational toys and activities!
Although we admire and appreciate parents who support the philosophy at home, we want you to avoid turning your house into a Montessori classroom. Indeed, children working with Montessori materials at home don’t want to work with the same materials at school and vice versa. Moreover, the materials in the classroom are very expensive!
That is why we suggest activities and materials that support the same Montessori goals and are more suitable for at-home play.
We have created a list of Montessori gifts for all ages that children have been loving and engaging with based on our experience. Check it out!
Infant (0-16 months)
For infants and younger toddlers, a bit more overlap between home and school is ok.
- Lovery Play Gym: The best play mat out there. It is beautiful and developmentally thoughtful and will grow with your child well through 2 and 3. It also comes with a beautiful guide to using the mat at different stages of infant development.
- Natural teethers: Haba Toys
- Rattles made of natural materials that include bells and stretchy materials: Haba Toys
- Sensory balls: Sensory Balls
- Shape Sorter: Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter, Take-along Shape Sorter
- Anything to promote gross motor and movement!
- Activity Cube
- Colorful Scarves: You can do so much with these! Stuff them in a tissue box and let your little one pull them out. Dance with them. Name the colors. Play Peek-a-Boo.
- Dusting Mitts: Little ones love to dust. Crawlers can wear them on their hands and knees!!
- Nesting/Stacking Cups: These cups promote building skills, naming colors and numbers.
- Table Top Easel Art with babies can be a bit scary, but go for it! Limit babies to one color at a time and small amounts of paint, chalk, etc.
- A Montessori-inspired Subscription box for Infants and Toddlers.
Toddler (16 months-3.5 years old)
- Gross Motor Activities. If there is one thing this age group craves, it’s movement!
- Bilibo Seat
- Mini Trampoline. Place in front of a mirror for the most fun!
- Balance Bike – There are plenty to choose from, but be sure to get one with platforms for your child to place their feet as they become more comfortable gliding. It will save their shoes!
- Climber – If space allows, keep it indoors. Outside, hit the nearest playground and let them try some bigger equipment.
- Mini 3in1 Deluxe Scooter – A popular pastime that can stay with you through Children’s House
- Cook Book and Apron. Speaking of cooking, many families have also loved the Ikea Kitchen! You can stack their little kitchen with their favorite snacks and tools and let their independence roll!
- Puzzles – Simple and Complex (ones that incorporate matching, locking mechanisms, matching, etc.)
- Simple Games
- Building Blocks: Make sure they are not magnetic or self-adhering. Balancing the blocks is a critical developmental milestone.
- Train Set: Make sure it allows for multiple configurations!
- Water/Sand Table: Think beyond sand and water. Indeed, you will want to use those as times, but in other seasons consider leaves, snow, slime – or simple water, dish soap and whisk. Also, be sure to add some other materials – shovels, cars, blocks, etc.
- Sewing Block or Lacing Cards or Bead Stringing
Books, Books, and More Books! Read them together. Toddlers particularly like books with real photographs (as opposed to illustrations). The DK line of books has tons of these types and is great for vocabulary building. Plus, they have books for all ages!!
Children’s House (a.k.a Primary, a.k.a. 3-6 years old)
If you have a young three-year-old, check out the Toddler section too, and if you have an older Kindergartner, check out the Elementary section.
- Craft projects:
- Puzzles: Always aim for a little harder than you think your child can do
- Simple Mandala Color Books: Give your children the relaxation and creativity of coloring with a challenge beyond kids’ coloring books. Use colored pencils for precision.
- Marble Maze Building Set
- Board Games: Children in this age group really begin to grasp the concept of board games, and choices are unlimited. Plus, they reinforce taking turns, playing by the rules, and losing gracefully!
- Puppet Show Theater: Wait and see the productions your children will perform, but have the children design their own puppets!
- Subscription Boxes: “The gift that keeps on giving the whole year round” – Especially helpful if your little one has a birthday that falls close to the holidays and you want to spread out the presents
- Osmo (technology) – Great option to introduce technology as it incorporates a tablet with manipulative materials to support language, math, coding, art, etc.
- DIY Profession Kits: No doubt children love to play doctor, school, etc., but give them a play kit with the real deal. For relatively little money, you can put together a small box with real working items!! Enlist friends and family for help.
- Doctor’s Kit: A working stethoscope, thermometer, bandages, wraps, x-rays, reflex hammer, and a small clipboard. All are available on Amazon, but also talk to your doctor and nurse friends.
- Hairdresser’s Kit: Clips, brushes, old hairdryer, spray bottle. Forage underneath the bathroom sink. Child-size, working hair tools are also available.
- Teacher’s Kit: Chalk, a small chalkboard, books, paper, pencils, etc.
- Build A Fort Kit: Easy to DIY with a plastic storage box, a set of sheets, some paper and sticker letters for signs, and potato chip clips, or purchase a pre-made kit: Fat Brain Fort Kit.
- Continue to focus on getting out and moving!
- An experience with you: Tickets to an event (play, musical, ice show), a museum outing, afternoon tea, a manicure/pedicure, Touch-a-Truck events, Medieval Times, etc.
- And, once again, books! Again, consider including some books above your child’s level. Grab some small chapter books for your 4-year-old or some Roald Dahl for your Kindergartner that you can read together.
Elementary (6-9 years old)
You can expand upon some of the above suggestions. For example, a more advanced cookbook, or choose a subscription box for an older age group.
- Simple robotics activities
- Makey Makey: Forget using technology; try creating it!
- Experiences: Like above, consider tickets to an event or an outing to a museum, the theater, a theme park, or even the movies. However, at this age, you could explain the concept of an experience as a gift and allow the child to choose and plan their experience.
- Science Experiment Kits
- Fiber Art Activities:
- Sewing Machine and Supplies
- Weaving Looms Note: Loop looms are popular right now, but keep in mind the variety of projects is limited, and you have to buy more expensive specialty loops. Stick to a traditional loom for versatility.
- Rainbow Loom – is a great way to make gifts too!
- Knitting Needles and Yarn: Here is some basic info to get your child started with knitting
- Classes/lessons. This is another great option if you’d like to stretch the usefulness of a gift. It can be anything that might interest your child, from ice skating to cooking to a musical instrument. Duolingo can also be a good app for practicing and studying a different language.
- Construction/Loose Parts materials: Kids love to construct, and nothing is more exciting than using large, real-life materials. Check out Kodo Kids Loose Parts and Kodo Kids Construction Planks for inspiration (don’t even look at the prices, you’ll have a heart attack!), but you can DIY it at Home Depot/Michaels for MUCH less. It can be as simple as some PVC pipes with connectors and a bag of marbles. Let Home Depot know what you are doing; they often give out scraps for free for kids!
- Snap Circuits: For the budding electrical engineer.
- Active Play: Big kids need movement and outdoor play just as much as the little ones
- Fine Arts Supplies. Time to move beyond Crayola. Stock a kit with pastels, drawing pencils, paints of various bases: oil, acrylic, etc., different types of paper, and small canvases.
- Story Time Dice: Maybe your child is the next J.K. Rowling!
- Board Games. Focus on those games that incorporate strategy.
- Magazine Subscriptions: Most of these magazines also have editions for younger children and are also great gift ideas; just be prepared that younger children will probably need more adult support to get the most out of them.
- A telescope
- Starter Archery Set: For those kids who love to shoot things!
- Keva Planks: Unlimited building options!
Osmo – combines a tablet and games with manipulative materials to introduce coding, art, and games.
Share this article with your whole family, and enjoy your shopping! 😊🎁