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If you’re new to Montessori toys, you’re now doubt attracted by their beauty and simplicity. No fuss, wooden toys are a Montessori play staple, and yet purchasing your first Montessori toys can feel daunting and complicated... How do you know which toys will truly support Montessori learning? Capikooa is here to help!
We’re answering your most asked questions when it comes to purchasing Montessori toys for your children, so picking them can be as enjoyable as playing with them.
First, what is Montessori style play?
Montessori is an educational method developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori. It focuses on nurturing a child’s natural desire to learn and explore, and views children as capable of initiating their own learning and discoveries. In a Montessori environment, children are provided with open-ended tools from which they can pick how to play with, create with and use them. There’s a focus on using natural materials and aesthetics (like wood and muted colours) over plastics.
How do I choose a Montessori toy?
When picking a Montessori toy for your child’s toy collection, it’s important to look at their play opportunities as a whole. An ideal Montessori set-up would include some soft and cuddly materials, some firm, sturdy wooden objects (that they can stand/climb on to encourage physical play, wooden balance boards are great for this) and even safe, everyday objects which they can use in both roleplay and activities where they practice life skills.
When picking any toy, think about how versatile the item is going to be. Will it encourage open-ended play and nurture their imagination? Or does it offer only one prescribed way (or game) to play? If it’s the latter, it will not be strictly recognised as a Montessori toy.
You may also like to consider the longevity of an item. Will this be able to be used for years to come? Will it withstand hours of play and be able to be passed on to another child or re-sold? The best Montessori toys are quality toys which will last down the generations.
At Capikooa, we make sure all our wooden toys can be treasured for decades!
It’s also worth noting that Montessori learning also encourages the use of objects which aren’t toys in their ‘play’. Maria Montessori found that children were easily engaged and delighted by being given ‘real life’ jobs and tasks to do – such as laying the table, help clean/cook/garden - so Montessori encourages this sort of ‘work’ too.
Are Montessori toys better?
The way you view Montessori toys will depend on how you view children. If you view children as capable, independent, naturally curious little learners - you’ll love Montessori toys for their open-ended play value and potential to encourage imagination, nurture child development and practice life skills. Many Montessori toys have the added bonus of being more aesthetically appealing and sustainable than non-Montessori toys too due to their natural materials.
Why are there no plastic toys in Montessori?
While some plastic toys can be used for Montessori style play - strictly speaking Montessori toys are not made with plastic. This is due to the preferences of the Montessori creator, Maria Montessori. An Italian physician, Maria valued wood over plastic as a safe, natural, and innately enjoyable material for a child’s senses.
Why is Montessori so popular?
Montessori learning has grown in popularity across the world largely due to its child-led focus, empowering and encouraging a child’s natural curiosity and respecting their need for hands-on active learning. Any parent or educator who’s seen a child interacting with Montessori style learning will see the benefits first-hand, as they enjoy both active, imaginative play and hands-on ‘work’ - both of which empower the child to be independent and confident.
Montessori is also seen as a more sustainable approach to child’s play. The open-ended, versatile nature of Montessori toys, and the use of everyday objects too, means that children don’t need hundreds of toys to have the best playtime possible.
What are some Montessori activities?
Montessori activities are usually set-up as invitations to play/use and are picked to encourage the practice of real-life skills. The sort of things which might be involved are:
Safe, heavy lifting (moving toy baskets and balance boards)
Self-care (dressing, washing, hair brushing)
Watering plants, gardening, looking after nature
And other hands-on life skills
What are the six sensitive Montessori periods?
The exact definition of the six sensitive periods of Montessori can vary but it is generally understood there are at least six periods of time during your child’s development where they are particularly sensitive to certain aspects of learning. They can be seen from birth to 6 years old, and look like:
A sensitivity to order (0-5 years)
A sensitivity to language (0-6 years)
A sensitivity to movement (0-4.5 years)
A sensitivity to social aspects of life (0-3 years)
A sensitivity to small objects (1-3 years)
A sensitivity to learning through their senses (0-5 years)
How often should you rotate Montessori toys?
It is recommended to have a limited selection of Montessori toys available to your child at any one time. This allows them to focus on the resources at hand without distraction and encourages maximum imagination with what’s available. The Montessori approach suggests rotating toys about once a month. Keep an eye on your child’s play and see which toys they are engaging with most and switch out those which are being left alone.