If you’ve gone shopping for toys in the past few years, you must have heard the term “Montessori toys”.

There’s so much hype about the Montessori Education system that it has also spilled into the world of toys! Imagine!

But what really makes a toy a Montessori toy?

How are these toys different from regular toys?

By Lilian.

Well, before we get to answer these questions, we need to first understand what this “Montessori” thing is.

Defining the Montessori Education System

The word “Montessori” gives credit to one Italian Physician and educator, Dr. Maria Montessori.

The educator championed the introduction of a system for teaching young children, which is child-directed, in order to encourage self-education.

In simpler terms, rather than children sitting and absorbing lessons taught by the teacher, every child educates him/herself and the teacher only acts as a guide.

In the world of toys, Montessori toys are of two types. There are those that were specifically designed by Dr. Maria, which are also referred to as Montessori materials.

The second type is those toys that are designed in accordance with Montessori’s education philosophy.

Non-Montessori Toys

Non-Montessori toys are just the regular toys which do not align to the Montessori education philosophy.

Almost everyone has a non-Montessori toy in their child’s playroom.

Toys that come with flashy lights, so much detail, noises, lights, batteries, etc. are non-Montessori toys.

With this understanding, let’s now assess what makes Montessori Toys different from Regular Toys.

4 Differences between Montessori and Regular Toys

Differences in Material

While Montessori toys are crafted from natural material such as wood and metal, regular toys are made from plastic.

In fact, 90% of all toys in the market are made from plastic.

The idea with Montessori toys is that kids get much more information about the world interacting with natural materials.

For example, metal and wood have an interesting “taste” for the baby while plastic either has a very artificial feel in kids’ mouths or there’s absolutely no taste.

What’s more, kids also get to perceive the concept of weight while playing with wood/metal toys compared to the regular plastic toys.

Other materials for Montessori toys include stone, natural fibers and fabrics.

Differences in Reality and Fantasy Perspectives

Montessori toys are designed to give children a real world, while most regular toys give kids an imagination for a fantasy world.

Montessori toys are inspired by the stuff in our natural environment as opposed to fantasies and made-up things.

For instance, while animal toys such as farm animals and wild animals are considered Montessori toys, toys that depict talking bears and dragons are not Montessori toys.

Differences in Play Choices

Regular toys are designed to give kids unlimited choices while Montessori toys offer kids limited choices of play.

Let me remind you that Montessori toys are very simple.

In Montessori play, children are offered limited choices at any given time, so that they can focus on the current task/activity.

Differences in Simplicity

Montessori toys are simpler than regular toys.

They do not come with batteries, interactive parts and have no artificial lights or sounds.

Unlike regular toys, Montessori toys do not come with too many colors, noises and too many parts.

So, if you’re looking for a Montessori toy, don’t get that shotgun with flashy lights and music as it shoots! Ha-ha!

The simplicity of Montessori toys ensures the toys do not overwhelm kids’ minds and allows them to fully comprehend the purpose of the toy.

Anything that distracts children from understanding the specific purpose of the toy is excluded.

Because of this simplicity, most Montessori toys do not come in so many colors.

Let me tell you why.

Why are Montessori Toys Not Colorful?

The Montessori philosophy emphasizes the use of calm, muted colors for one simple reason.

Children learn better in environments that foster calmness and concentration.

According to a research conducted by psychologists in 2016, when kids play with toys that have too many colors, their brains find it difficult to grasp concepts about the toy compared to less colored toys.

Take the example of the Iconic Pink Tower, a very popular Montessori toy.

The tower is deliberately uniform in color. The only difference is the size of each cube.

The very objective of this toy is to foster kids’ ability to visually differentiate between objects of different sizes, so, honestly, there’s no need of having the pieces come with different colors.

Let me now fill you in on the benefits of these amazing toys!

Benefits of Montessori Toys

Montessori Toys Are Healthy and Safe

Remember we mentioned that these toys are made from natural materials?

Yes. These amazing toys have no harmful materials or plastic.

Neither do they have batteries, chemicals or other toxic stuff that comes with some regular toys.

Montessori Toys Teach Kids Independence

These toys are simple, so kids can play with them without adult interference.

According to Dr. Montessori, the best sign of success for teachers is being in a position to say, “The kids are working as if I don’t even exist!”

This is probably the best thing about Montessori toys.

They teach kids to be independent.

Hey, isn’t it great to have mom/dad enjoy some well-deserved rest as kids play independently?

Montessori Toys Inspire Kids

Montessori toys are more about real stuff than regular toys.

This way, kids get to do practical things with Montessori toys. No fantasy, just real stuff!

For instance, a Montessori cleaning toy set comes with a mop, sweep and dust pan, etc.

Montessori Toys Build Kids’ Concentration

Montessori toys are simple, with calm colors and less distracting parts.

Because of this, kids are able to explore each toy without getting distracted.

This is building their concentration span!

Now that you’re sure about the benefits of these amazing toys, let’s identify a few toys for toddlers.

Montessori Toys for Toddlers

Montessori Puzzle Games

A very popular Montessori toy is the beginner puzzle.

The puzzle pieces come in different shapes so your little one can start to differentiate shapes.

They’re also the perfect size for toddlers to exercise their fine motor skills!

Montessori Animal Toys

Unlike the regular plastic toys, these Montessori animal toys look exactly like the real animals.

Montessori Cleaning Toys

They’re exactly like real cleaning equipment!

They come with a mop, brush, dust pan, broom, etc. just that they’re sized down for toddler hands!

If only kids loved to help out even in teenage-hood…

Photo by Tara Winstead.

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