Montessori Inspired Gift Ideas 2020 – French Family Tested!
Anyone else already thinking about Christmas? In our house we like to spread out expenses like materials and toys over time instead of buying them all at once. This includes Christmas for sure so I’ve got to get organized. As I was going through our toys in rotation I decided that they deserved a post!
In this post, I am sharing what we actually have that is loved and used regularly by our Montessori littles. Our oldest is 3 and our youngest daughter is 8 months at the time of writing this post.
When we consider what our kid wants or needs material or toy wise, we will look at the scope & sequence, consider where they are today developmentally, and then look for toys that are:
- Open Ended
- Not loud or obnoxious
- A natural material or a good quality plastic that is safe (although we try not to do much plastic!)
- Developmentally appropriate (for where they are today and where they will be in a few months!)
- Is not a duplicate
- Falls in line with Montessori (especially if educationally related!)
- Not electronic (no tablets, games, phones, etc.)
If you are still developing your toy philosophy in your home, are wanting to pair down, or would like to start a toy rotation, I highly recommend reading Simplicity Parenting. I reference it frequently. It’s a great reminder!
Here is a look at the Montessori friendly toys/materials that have been a hit in our home. In my next post, I’m also going to share what’s on our 2020 Christmas List. Hope this gives you plenty of ideas for your Montessori children!
We LOVE blocks over here! We have several sets that see lots of play. This was our very first set of blocks. It’s perfect for little hands. I have set a few out for our 8 month old to play with and of course she loves dumping and destroying when sister is building as well. Our oldest received these as a gift for her first Christmas I believe. She was 7 months old at the time. It was a big hit then and has staid out since. The cart is fun as well!
We have the small Grimm’s 6 piece rainbow stacker. We grabbed this for our oldest daughter’s first Christmas gift from us. She was 7 months old her first Christmas. IT took a few months for her to get into this one but ever since it’s been a hit. Our youngest daughter is now 8 months old and is already into this material. She enjoys deconstructing it and playing with pieces of it individually at this point. Our oldest still will use it to create abstractly, along with her other blocks, and as a stacker. Our oldest is almost 3.5.
Last year our oldest really started to get into block play right before Christmas. She would play for longer stretches and work to create towers, walls, houses and other creations SO we let our sweet family know and she scored all kinds of fun blocks! Since then her love of building with blocks has only grown. She plays with all her blocks weekly if not daily.
For the girl’s first joint gift, we grabbed this beautiful wooden Grimm’s set. It’s the large stepped pyramid. Both the girls are drawn to it. Our oldest is able to put it away appropriately now (with little to no help). It’s great for building and the size comparison.
We were gifted the Grimm’s large elements puzzle as well. We’ve used this for so many things! We’ve used it in our hands on play with the Bible set ups, regular block play, our rainbow unit and our invitations to play set ups. Both girls are already drawn to it but it is most used by our 3 year old. Our 8 month old will reach for it if sister has it out though. We often display each individual stacker set up instead of as a puzzle at this time. You can also purchase the large rainbow stacker, the cave stacker, the water stacker, and the fire stacker individually. (Right now the puzzle is out of stock on Amazon but you can grab it on Bella Luna. I’ll update my links if it is available on Prime again! Also, do some price checking and compare shipping cost with total cost on Prime. Often it’s still cheaper to grab on Prime but things have been a bit marked up this year…)
We were gifted this set of blocks from Carter’s. It’s so fun. It has a shape sorter at the top and is a smaller sized block which is fun to build by itself and alongside of the other blocks. Both the baby and our preschooler reach for these throughout the the week! They are also to take with you so when we are traveling or gone for the day this is often one we grab to take with us. It’s a hit with both girls.
We were given this set of Gear Builders by Lakeshore Learning as a hand me down and it is still in fantastic condition! I see this lasting for a while. Our oldest started pulling it out on her own around 2.5 and it’s been a hit ever since! She loves to create with this. It’s something I think will stay in the rotation for the next few years (at least!) with our oldest. Our youngest will not be ready for it for a couple years but I am sure she will love it too.
These have been a HIT since we first gifted one to our oldest. She was 19 months at the time and we started with the rainbow one from Sarah’s Silks then we were gifted this beautiful set the following Christmas. I do recommend both! They have held up to a lot of creative play from forts to tug of war to even creating Rapunzel’s hair (I know… I know… Montessori doesn’t recommend fictional stories like Rapunzel under 6… That’s a post for another time though 😉 ) These are a hit with both of my girls. My youngest is currently 8 months old and she has loved these since she was 2 or 3 months old. (I think that’s when she started noticing them!) There are so many fun ways to use these. Truly a must have open ended toy.
Oh my goodness. Where do I even begin on books??? I decided not to do a completely comprehensive list of all the books we own and love. Instead I am selecting a few favorites to share that are perfect for ages 0-3. These are not 100% Montessori (again… that’s a whole other article I need to write) but most of them are. I’ll put an asterisk by the ones that are not 100% in alignment with Montessori. Just one more disclaimer… this doesn’t even begin to touch the breadth of our love for books or our collection…. we LOVE to read!
Ok… I am making myself stop on the books… for now! Maybe I need a massive books series… we LOVE to read and a literacy rich environment is a HUGE passion of mine.
Some of these puzzles are traditional Montessori puzzles and some are not. I am not including our entire puzzle collection in this post. I am only including ones that can be done independently by my 3 year old and that she has reached for regularly over the past couple years. We do have some for our rotation that are the next step up for her (some of which she has tried or likes to select to work together on occasion). She adores the Montessori puzzles and those are the most frequented at the moment.
For our puzzles, we focus on getting a mix a materials. The younger they are, the more I prefer wood. Something sturdy and natural is a must. Plus they are just so beautiful. While we do have more fantasy in our home under six than some Montessori families, we still fill most of our book and work shelves with realistic items. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are wired to figure out the world around them and I’ve found that they gravitate towards them the most. Again, we have our fair share of fantasy and Disney in our book and puzzle collection too! Our oldest wasn’t interested in puzzles as early as I thought she would be so the earlier puzzles are light. Our youngest is very interested in sister’s puzzles so I will be grabbing her some simpler puzzles to introduce soon and they will definitely be on our Christmas list!
Knobbed Puzzles/Shape Puzzles
In Montessori you start with simple knobbed puzzles. It is actually a large knob with a single shape. Then you introduce a second and so on. We were not all in with Montessori when it was time to introduce these puzzles (around 9 or 10 months old depending on the child) so we did not introduce puzzles until later (I am thinking a year or so? Maybe closer to 15 months?)
This is the first puzzle we introduced with our oldest. We actually introduced the shapes by themselves one at a time. Then we introduced the puzzle. This was after her first birthday I believe.
This is one of the first puzzles we were gifted. It is a fun spring themed puzzle (Similar here and here). It graced our themed shelves twice and was frequently a part of our puzzle rotation. My 3 year old will still select it sometimes so it is still in rotation.
We have this fun chunky fish shaped puzzle. She reached for this one regularly through 32/33 months. It’s still accessible in the rotation for her.
Farm animal shaped chunky puzzle. She reached for this one regularly through 32/33 months. It’s still accessible in the rotation for her.
Safari Animal Puzzle. She reached for this one regularly through 32/33 months. It’s still accessible in the rotation for her.
We have this adorable clock with numbers. She doesn’t gravitate towards this one much yet but the sensitive period for numbers is much later. Most of our number work is quite organic and related to counting things or just counting in general. She doesn’t finish this one if she gets it out at this time. But it will be something in our future rotation! Especially once we have started clock work!
This is another number puzzle we have (Similar here and here). I love that it has the number paired with the amount which makes it a little less abstract. We will formally introduce numbers later but this is a fun, practical way to interact at with them as she chooses. I let her take the lead on asking which number is which and counting. She mostly has chosen to work the puzzle just like the animal puzzles.
Magnetic Farm Hide and Seek Board/Puzzle. This isn’t a traditional puzzle but I feel it fits in this category! This was popular from 18 months until sometime after 3. I could see her pulling it out some more in the future too. Especially when little sister become interested.
Montessori Knobbed Puzzles
We have a few traditional Montessori knobbed puzzles for the 2-6 age group. These are our 3 year old’s MOST used puzzle right now. We will definitely be putting more on our Christmas list this year. She can’t get enough of them!
This is a French family favorite for sure! Both my 3 year old and my 8 month old regularly use it. It’s great for climbing and sliding PLUS wonderful for pulling up and crawling up slide.
This is a HUGE hit with both girls. My now mobile 8 month old loves to climb on it and pull up on it (we flip it over like a bridge) and my three year old loves to rock on it or climb on it AND we use it as a slide off the couch.
This toy sees ALOT of play from both girls already. My youngest loves to explore the animals while our 3 year old gets more into imaginative play with it. I can’t wait to use it for the Montessori Grammar Farm in the future!
Toob Animals/Safari Animals
We have this set of the first five Montessori Mobiles and were very happy with them. I wanted something that would last through more than one baby (in case we have more!). You could also easily DIY these!
This was gifted to our 3 year old at her birthday and has been such a hit!
We grabbed this as a part of our Dance Unit but gave it to her early. She has loved this!
Ikea Spice Shelf (holds our art supplies!)
I hope you find this list helpful as you shop your your littles or get together your wish lists for the holiday season! Tell me, what’s your child’s favorite Montessori friendly items?