With the festive season fast approaching, I have updated my Montessori-friendly gift guide. I hope you find it useful!
Below are a selection of toys I feel pretty sure would be welcomed by any family with an interest in the Montessori ethos – or actually, any family at all. They are well made, beautiful, mostly made of natural materials, and invite open-ended creative play. A few are classic Montessori, a few are Waldorf-inspired, and a few are just classic toys which any child would love.
I have categorised these items by type rather than age (apart from infant). This is because our children are all different, and tend to pay no attention to age restrictions on toys – a 13 month old and a 28 month old might well both enjoy the same item, albeit perhaps using it in a slightly different way (that’s the beauty of open-ended toys).
I haven’t included books in this list – it would be too long if I listed all our favourites. Needless to say, books make a fantastic gift for any age child. Some of our favourite non-fiction books can be found here, and I’m confident that most young children would enjoy finding one of these under their tree!
Rainbow bead grasper. Such a beautiful toy for babies – a sensory delight.
Mobile. There are just so many mobiles out there that I didn’t have time to go through them all! A simple design which could be hung anywhere would be a winner though.
Interlocking disks. A Montessori classic material for babies. Really well made and a treasure for any keepsake box.
Soft baby. At 7cm these are ideal for babies who are just beginning to grasp.
Pop-Up Toy. A classic toy, which Frida played with for a long time, and one which I have gifted many babies. One of our all time favourite toys, and very reasonably priced.
Nesting cups. A great gift for a younger baby or toddler, and can be used for imaginative play as they get older. Again, this is one of my go-to gifts when buying for a new baby. Frida still plays with hers daily at two and a half!
Rattle. How beautiful is this rattle? It would make a lovely gift for a young baby.
Soft ball. A beautiful felted ball to engage the senses, this would be used for years.
GRIMMS WOODEN TOYS
We really love Grimms wooden toys in our home!
Open-ended, ethically made, and beautifully tactile, these toys are really very special. They make such wonderful gifts, and can be used in endless ways.
Some of my favourites include the large rainbow, the semi-circles, the stacking boxes, the dolls and doll’s furniture (including the gorgeous mobile home), and the many different stackers (we have the cave and waves). They also sell stunning building sets, blocks, cars, peg dolls… I could go on.
FOSTERING IMAGINATIVE PLAY
Dolls (Anatomically correct plastic baby / Waldorf-style dolls). Frida has a very simple plastic baby doll with a soft body (similar here) which has served her well. Dolls are so important for boys and girls alike and I think young children are really drawn to them.
Doll sling. A wonderful gift for a child who already owns a doll!
Blocks (simple blocks here / beautiful natural ones here). A staple for every household.
Play silks. These are such a beautiful, open-ended material. In our home they are used as doll slings, as backgrounds for playing, as decorative materials, for hiding and playing peek-a-boo, for dressing up… These make a lovely gift for a child of any age!
Wooden animals and figures (Holztiger / Ostheimer). Frida’s Holztiger wooden animals have been such a joy, for her and for us to use with her. Beautifully made, pleasant to handle, and perfect for open ended play for years to come. She plays with them day in, day out, and I often buy them for gifts. We also love the trees, and this year I have bought Frida some play grass and a wooden well.
Schleich animals. I am sure these are found in every Montessori home! Anatomically correct, versatile, resilient, these are amazing and make fantastic gifts. Frida has some farm animals in adult / baby pairs (great for matching activities for younger toddlers) and some sea animals which she uses in the bath.
Vehicles (cars / fire truck / fork lift / horse on wheels / aeroplane). I love simple vehicles (we have the Grimms cars and a Plan truck), but I’m sure most would go down well with toddlers.
Dolls house. These would make an incredible gift for an older toddler or child. Frida has a simple Grimms doll house frame, which I love as it’s versatile (doubling up as a cafe or stable) and easy for little hands to navigate.
Farm house or stable. Ditto – an amazing gift to go with wooden or Schleich animals.
Plan Toys vegetable garden set. The loveliest toy to go alongside small dolls and animals!
Toy kitchen (IKEA / Myriad). A classic toy for toddlers and young children, again available to suit every budget. There is a debate within Montessori families about the use of toy kitchens, some eschewing them altogether, some preferring to use them alongside real crockery and food, and some using them for imaginative play whilst ensuring the child gets plenty of access to real food preparation. We fall in the latter camp.
Train set. A classic gift but a great one! Again, you’ll be able to find one to suit every budget. We have a cheap IKEA one for now. Setting the track up is like a puzzle in its own right too.
Frida loves using natural materials in her imaginative play, including precious stones, conkers, pieces of wood, stones, shells… A collection of natural “loose parts” gifted in a bag or basket would be the most wonderful gift for an older toddler or preschooler.
PUZZLES AND GAMES
Object permanence box. A wonderful, classic Montessori, gift for a baby. You can see Frida using hers here when she was 10 months.
Simple peg puzzles (shapes / three circles / circle). Classic Montessori and brilliant for older babies as an introduction to puzzles. I loved using the three circles puzzle with Frida when she was younger, and it was a good way to introduce her to size.
More complex peg puzzles (shapes / farm animals / wild animals / vehicles). Good for older babies and toddlers.
Shape sorter / shape sorter / imbucare box. Young children love posting, and shape sorting is great for their hand / eye coordination. The animal shape sorter I linked to would be good for older babies – Frida was bought a second hand one and loved playing with the animals.
Two piece / multiple piece puzzles. Great for younger toddlers who are just starting to learn about how puzzles work.
Jigsaw puzzles. There are so many to love! We especially like the Ravensburger frame puzzles.
Magnetic fishing game. A lovely game which encourages coordination and fine motor skills. We have a cheap one my mum bought for Frida but I’ve linked to a similar one and there’s another here.
Animal dominoes. Animal matching, plus putting things in and taking them out of their box. What’s not to love?!
Bird Bingo. A Montessori family classic! We have learnt so much from ours. There is also a Bug Bingo as well as cat and dog versions.
Where’s My Piglet? A beautiful matching game with adult and baby animals to match. When children are older this can be played as a memory game.
Stockmar crayons. I love these so much. They smell divine as they are made from beeswax, their colours are beautiful, and they are a great shape for little hands to grasp. Putting them in and taking them out of a tin is an activity in itself! They come in sets of 8, 12 and 16.
Paint. I especially like these GALT squeeze and brush paint pens for young toddlers, although those looking for something more natural might prefer finger paints like these natural ones.
For older toddlers and preschoolers I cannot get enough of these Stockmar opaque paints. The colours are amazing and they are such good quality.
Colouring pencils.. We adore Lyra pencils – their quality is second to none. For a cheaper option IKEA do great cheap, chubby ones too – pick some up if you are making a trip!
Modelling clay. I love this Okonorm clay as it doesn’t dry out at all, and the colours are gorgeous despite being natural.
Colour paddles. Great for all ages, to use as a sensory item through to learning about colour mixing.
Cleaning set. A set which children can use to really clean alongside their parents
Clothes pegs. A slightly odd gift idea perhaps, but children love clothes pegs! If you want to push the boat out Grimms do beautiful ones. Frida also loves using her own clothes horse.
Apron. A lovely idea for little ones who enjoy baking (this might be better for older toddlers as infants will probably find it easier to use a full-sleeve bib or art coverall).
Gardening set. Even children who don’t have access to a garden will enjoy these tools as they can be used in a sand pit, or in a local wood, or to help pot up plants on a balcony. We have this set and they are perfectly suitable as well as reasonably priced.
Puddle suit. A brilliantly practical gift for any age child. Even babies who cannot crawl yet can use a waterproof suit for sitting outdoors and exploring the earth with their hands.
Crinkle cutter. The perfect stocking filler! Frida uses hers all the time, and has done for a long time now. It’s a great “first knife” and enables young children to contribute to cooking in a meaningful way.
Glockenspiel. These come at all price points and in all colours and styles. Frida’s was a gift and I love that it is a “proper” adult one rather than a toy one – having a better quality of material makes a big different for instruments as the sound is so much clearer.
Hand held bells. Perfect for all ages. These are a more natural looking option.
Tambourine. Great for making lots of noise!
Shakers and maracas. A great gift for little ones who have just started grasping.
There are more beautiful instruments on the Myriad website here, any of which would be a perfect gift.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Grimms threading bead set. This set is fairly expensive for what it is, so you could probably make your own set using cheaper materials, however I think it would make a beautiful gift.
Bee hive set. A truly lovely toy which encourages fine motor skills, colour matching, and imaginative play.
Grimms rainbow sorting bowls. These are also quite expensive so you could probably make your own set using cheaper materials. Again though, a really beautiful gift which I am sure would be treasured.
Stickers. At two and a half Frida is still really into stickers, and the peeling makes for a great fine motor activity (for a younger child I would peel the backing off to make it a bit easier to begin with).
Letter work book. This is a great gift for older toddlers who might be starting to show an interest in letter work. This is a lovely book with textured letters to encourage tracing.
GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
Sheepskin rug. Perfect for a new baby to lie on next to a mirror, observing their movements. Great for an older baby who is sitting, and a lovely addition to a chair or floor in a toddler bedroom.
Crawl-through tunnel. Brilliant for infants who are just starting to crawl, for playing peek-a-boo, and for imaginative play. Can be used indoors or outdoors.
“First” slide. Frida has a very small slide which she was bought for her first birthday (similar to the one linked to though not the same) and it was a great gift – small enough that she could play on it without us hovering over her, and for her to feel a sense of accomplishment. It was also small enough that if we wanted to it could easily have been brought inside our home.
Wobbel board. Frida was bought one last year and it has just been brilliant. I cannot recommend it enough.
Micro-scooter. This 3-in-1 version is suitable from around the age of one (dependent on motor skills obviously) and will last for years to come. Frida was bought this for her first birthday and it’s been a fantastic present.
Rocking horse. These can be as expensive as your budget will stretch to, though I have linked to an IKEA rocking moose as this is what we have and Frida loves it! At two and a half she still uses it all the time.
I hope that this list has given you – and your family members! – some inspiration for birthdays and celebrations, as well as some ideas for toys your infant or toddler may enjoy.
Do you agree with the list? Think I’ve missed something? If you end up being inspired let me know how you get on!
None of the items I have mentioned have been sponsored, although this post does contain some affiliate links at no cost to you.