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What are the best Montessori toys for 3-year-olds? Those that help them develop skills such as autonomy, creative thinking and problem solving. In this article, you’ll learn about:
- Montessori toys for 3-year-olds to develop their gross motor skills
- The best Montessori toys for developing 3-year-olds creativity
- Montessori fine motor toys for 3-year-old children
One of the key principles of Montessori education is that children should be provided with resources that enable them to learn by themselves. These resources should also help them manipulate, think, experiment, create and so on.
Toys are an easy way to provide the resources that promote Montessori learning at home.
Many Montessori toys can be quite costly for many parents (me included!), so it’s important to consider your family situation and your interests when deciding on which Montessori toys your 3-year-old needs.
Also, remember that during Montessori’s time, only the simplest resources available in her environment were privileged. In other words, there are many toys that meet the criteria of Montessori-inspired toys and you can even make them yourself! Before we begin, let’s look at some of the characteristics shared by Montessori-inspired toys.
How to choose the best Montessori toys for 3-year-old children
Toys, as we know them today, didn’t exist when Maria Montessori first began teaching orphan kids in rural Italy. That said, Montessori found that several resources readily available in her environment helped children learn easier and even develop certain skills such as their fine motor skills, their critical thinking skills and their problem-solving skills.
Montessori also made hands-on teaching tools to help children learn more easily. Through experimentation and careful analysis, she found that certain characteristics made it easier for them to acquire and retain information, experience learning (hands-on experiences), and develop multiple important skills.
Today, many Montessori-inspired toys are based on these principles. Here are some of the common characteristics shared by these toys:
1) They involve manipulation. These toys are hands-on and encourage children to experience learning actively by interacting with them.
2) They are simple.
3) They are purposeful, meaning that they are made with a purpose in mind. For example, their end objective can be to help your child develop their visual perception skills, their fine motor skills or their gross motor skills, but many toys help them develop multiple skills.
4) The best Montessori toys for 3-year-old children are open-ended, meaning that your child can play with the same toys in many different ways. Open-ended toys are among the best toys because they encourage children to use their imagination and to develop their creativity and critical thinking skills.
5) They are safe and made of natural materials, normally wood.
6) They use designs and colors that children find attractive.
7) They are durable, so your child can use them for years, or pass them down to younger siblings.
8) They are relatable. As your child grows older, choosing toys that they can associate with real-life things or experiences will provide the greatest learning.
Many of the activities proposed in a Montessori setting make the most use of children’s natural environment. At the end of this article, I will share simple tips that you can adopt at home, without toys, to help your 3-year-old develop or strengthen important skills.
Most of the toys with the characteristics listed above can be described as Montessori-inspired toys. Here are a few suggestions of Montessori toys for 3-year-olds to help them develop different skills.
Best Montessori toys for 3-year-olds for developing fine motor skills
Puzzles are great toys for 3-year-olds, and they help them develop so many skills. They teach problem-solving and perseverance, help your child improve their visual discrimination skills and hand-eye coordination, and encourage them to work on their fine motor skills.
Your child will love this Flame Wave Rock Rainbow puzzle that is made of 100% non-toxic natural wood and helps them discover different colors and shapes.
This open-ended toy will allow them to build houses, bridges, tunnels, beds, and whatever else they can imagine. It will help them develop their fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual recognition skills and more!
The Montessori 100 board is designed to help your child understand how numbers work in a sequence. It helps your child to better grasp concepts such as counting and number order, and allows them to correct their mistakes by themselves. Manipulating the board will also help them work on their fine-motor skills.
Stacking toys are not only great for developing your 3-year-olds fine motor skills, they also help them work on their creativity. Good quality stacking toys last for years and your child can play with them in different ways as they grow older.
Montessori toys for developing your 3-year-olds’ gross motor skills
Gross motor skills enable your child to participate in activities such as walking, running, kicking, throwing and so on. Gross motor skill activities enable them to work on their hand, torso, arm and leg muscles and often involve whole-body movements.
The Wooden Wobble Balance Board is a good toy for developing children’s gross motor skills. It can help them to develop a sense of balance and to work on their posture. And the best part is that this is an open-ended toy, meaning that your child can use it in whichever way they see fit – as a swing, a steppingstone, a tunnel, a goal post, and so on.
Monkey bars are the ultimate toys for building gross-motor skills and your child will be unable to resist the Eezy Peezy Climbing Frame. This toy will ensure years of active playtime involving pulling, pushing, twisting, balancing and so on. And they can use it both indoors and outdoors!
Climbing triangles are another great option to help your child work on their muscles and on their sense of balance. This one proposes an arch, a ramp, and a triangle and has so many options, all your kids from 18 months to eight will love it. The downside is that it’s costly, but you can put it on your wishlist or check out more affordable options.
Best Montessori toys for 3-year-olds for developing creativity and critical thinking skills
Plain wood blocks are the ultimate toy for kids. They can use them to build things then knock them back down again, combine them to make all types of shapes, help them learn visual discrimination, and so on.
Wood blocks are a good example of a simple and open-ended Montessori-inspired toy and your child will love durable wooden blocks that they can stack, use to learn about colors and shapes, and so on. Tegu Magnetic wooden blocks are a great choice with nine unique shapes of traditional wooden blocks (with magnets carefully hidden inside) and magnetic wheels.
Any good quality toys that can help your child engage in creative and make-believe play are great toy options for 3-year-olds. Realistic-looking animal figurines like these ones are a good option and although they are made of plastic, the animals look very realistic and the plastic used is high quality and durable.
Wood peg dolls are a common feature in Montessori education and they are great Montessori toys for 3-year-olds. They are good for imaginative play and will make a wonderful addition to your storytelling sessions. You can get a natural unfinished peg doll kit here, or a colored kit here.
Best Montessori toys for developing your 3-year-olds sense of autonomy
One of the guiding principles of Montessori education is that children should be able to participate as often and as easily as possible in the home life.
A learning tower allows your child to safely reach items so that they can do so independently. For example, it can allow them to reach the sink, the kitchen counter or the dinner table. Learning towers are a safe choice because unlike stools and chairs, they protect your child from falls.
A Montessori play shelf is an easy way to get your child to keep their toy space tidy by themselves. It also makes it easier to display all their toys and therefore encourages them to engage with those available.
A Montessori play shelf will make it easier to rotate your child’s toys – for example, you can choose about six toys at a time and display them on your child’s shelf to increase engagement.
One of Montessori’s key principles had nothing to do with toys. She believed that children must be encouraged to participate in everyday activities, within an environment adapted to their age. This means that even without toys, it is possible to set up your home in a way that helps your 3-year-old develop important skills.
Here are easy tips to adopt Montessori at home with your child.
Providing the right Montessori environment for your 3-year-old
Montessori was convinced that one of the reasons that often blocked children’s growth was the fact that they were expected to succeed in an adult-size environment.
She believed that it was important to make it easier for children to thrive by designing their environment for success.
Here are a few ideas that can help increase your child’s sense of autonomy.
1) Providing dishes and cutlery will help your child learn to eat by themselves. But not all cutlery is appropriate for children, so it is important to select only age-appropriate items. Montessoriservices has a range of safe options to choose from.
2) Privilege low shelves in your home. Low shelves will make it easier for your child to participate in everyday household chores such as setting the table or putting away dishes.
3) Providing age-appropriate tools and objects will encourage your child’s participation in everyday life. For example, even something as simple as providing appropriate pitchers or water dispensers means that your child will be able to serve themselves without help.
4) Age-appropriate child-size brooms, brushes, dustpans and mops will help them participate more readily and easily in age-appropriate chores.
5) Providing kid-friendly knives that are safe for young helpers means that instead of your child engaging in make-believe play, they will actually be participating in a real-life activity and loving it! They can help by cutting up vegetables, fruits, and other soft food stuffs. Montessoriservices has great child-sized utensils to choose from.
6) As I mentioned earlier, kitchen helpers such as this one can make it easier for your child to reach the countertop and therefore to participate in making meals.
7) Providing cube-type storage at your child’s level and letting them know that everything must go back to its place when they are done playing helps increase their sense of responsibility and independence.
8) Encourage your child to get dressed by themselves. Even young children can learn to manage by themselves if you provide simple clothes (few or no zips, easy to manage buttons, no shoelaces, etc.). Allow extra time if you are worried about running late.
9) Give your child an age-appropriate chore. For example, they can help clean the countertop, set the table, put away their toys and books, and so on. This article has more tips on age-appropriate chores for 3-year-olds.
10) Use Day of the Week labels to help increase your child’s independence. For example, you can use them to help them get dressed, or even to help them know what they need to take to school on specific days of the week. Here are FREE LABELS you can download and use with your child.
Last thoughts on Montessori toys for 3-year-olds
The examples above show that to adopt Montessori at home, it is always a good idea to first find out what you already have and can use, or easy things that you can do to increase your child’s autonomy. Simply obtaining child-size tools in your home is an easy way to start increasing your child’s sense of autonomy. Montessoriservices has everything you need (and more!) to get started.
There is quite a bit of debate about whether a toy qualifies to be described as a Montessori toy or not. In my opinion, any toy that is in line with Montessori’s principles, meaning open-ended, simple, capable of promoting imaginative and make-believe play, purposeful, and so on, can be described as a Montessori-inspired toy.
If you’re looking for Montessori toys for your 3-year-old, remember that providing open-ended toys that let them unleash their creativity is a good place to start. I am a big fan of Grimm’s wooden toys because they are attractive to children, durable, and allow them to develop multiple skills.
Toys aside, ensuring that your environment encourages your child to participate in your family life as fully as possible will do wonders for their development.