When I was first introduced to the idea of Montessori-style play, I immediately fell in love.
I loved the idea of child-led play, the open-ended exploration that resulted in a love of learning. I loved the focused and purposeful toys and activities that I saw. And I loved the simplicity and minimalistic approach to toys that is just a part of Montessori play.
Today I want to share with you some of my favorite Montessori-inspired toys for toddlers, specifically, 1-2-year-olds.
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Some of these I actually will recommend in my upcoming post for 0-1-year-olds because they are perfect to grow with the child! But they really do get their full use in this second year of life.
These toys were, by far, the most loved and played within our house. It is amazing when you offer your children simple options, how much more engaged they become with the toys and activities.
When our floor is littered with toys, our little guy would quickly grow bored and fussy. But when offered the choice of one toy at a time, he would engage and play easily for 20 minutes with just one thing.
You can view my video here where I show you each toy and explain a little more about them! Or just keep reading below 🙂
So let’s get right into it!
This is one of our little guy’s favorites and I love the versatility. I got this toy when he was about 6 months – when they are younger, they love to watch you spring the pegs or they like to pull the pieces out and look at them and play around with them.
When he turned one and soon after that was when he really started engaging with this toy. He could fit the pieces back in and it was great for his hand-eye coordination and motor skills. He learned how to pop them up and loves it every time. And now as we get closer to 2 years, he is learning colors by matching them and practicing with me.
This toy is one of my favorites because, although very simple, it can teach a child a lot of different skills!
Puzzles are a fun activity that becomes easier as your child goes through their first year. We started with simple puzzles with just 3 shapes and those were perfect for the early 1-year-old stage. But as we got closer to 18 months, we loved the puzzles with animals and other shapes.
At first, these harder puzzles require a lot of modeling and kids will just watch you do it and play around with the pieces. But slowly they learn to fit the pieces in and it’s so fun to watch how proud they become when they get a piece to fit!
I will link some of our favorites here:
This was another that we got around 6 months and adapted for that age, but after a year we were able to start using it the way it was intended. It is perfect for motor skills and coordination as well. And a great way to introduce the concept of order with sizes and different colors.
Our little guy loves this stacker and will often play with it for a long time!
Shape Sorter Toy (bonus with pull-toy!)
We got this toy for our little guys 1 year birthday and he still loves it! Again, I’m a sucker for toys that teach multiple skills and this one was great for not only shape sorting but also pulling around.
Learning to put the shapes into the holes as well as practice with colors was a great engaging activity. Even now, he loves how proficient he’s become with this toy and always enjoys racing around the house with it.
Any shape sorter toy will be great, but I do recommend one with fewer shapes. There are some really cute ones out there with SO many shapes, even I get overwhelmed trying to put them together with the kids at friends’ houses.
Object Permanence Coin Box
This was so fun as motor and coordination skills improve. They fit the coin into the slot and then slide out the drawer to find them. It was the perfect follow-up to the easier shape-sorter toys because the coin shape requires a little more coordination. This was a favorite around 12-14 months for sure!
Right now our little guy’s absolute favorite toys are these Schleich animals. We started collecting some a little before he turned one and he has loved them. They are great for building vocabulary and can be used for multiple Montessori activities (i.e. matching with vocabulary cards).
We started with a set like the one below and slowly added to our collection. Now he loves not only working on saying the names of these animals and matching them but also playing with them.
You can get all sorts of realistic objects to use for these vocabulary-building skills like kitchen objects, insects, vehicles, tools, etc.
We love music in our home. While I love to play with our little guy on the real piano – it’s often more fun for him to have instruments his own size. We’ve loved this set of simple instruments to begin introducing music! I often will take out only one or two at a time for him to play with so he can really engage with each instrument.
I’ll include the set we have here, but if you search kid’s instruments on Amazon, there are tons of options!
Ball Tracker/Car Tracker
We love our ball tracker! It’s great for motor skills as they learn to place the ball in the track, but it’s also so much fun for them to watch it roll down. It also is a great way to work with colors and numbers. It’s called a tracker because it helps teach them to track things with their eyes.
We also got the car tracker here that I will include. This one is a little more tricky to fit the car into the track, but great for fine motor skills because of that! These are also great cause-and-effect learning toys.
So that’s it! I hope this was helpful as you approach Montessori for your little one!