Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and teacher best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, once said, “Play is the work of the child.” In today's day and age, that simply means play is not the work of the technology around us.
The Montessori Method is all about allowing children to explore their world through meaningful activities and open play, which will ultimately nurture healthy brain development. Unlike iPads, screens and tech-heavy toys, Montessori toys focus on unstructured, creative play. And we've gathered up the very best Montessori toys for 1-year-olds!
These simple yet effective play items are aimed at getting a child's creative juices flowing through voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous entertainment. This creativity expands problem-solving skills, social skills, language skills and physical skills, and helps spark new ideas.
The best thing to gift 1-year-olds on their big birthday is a Montessori toy to engage their mind and ignite their interest in creative, meaningful play. Below are some items that are perfect for growing babies and toddlers.
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The Best Montessori Toys For 1-Year-Olds
1. First Bead Maze, $18.99 at Melissa and Doug
This classic bead maze from Melissa and Doug is the ideal first toy for a baby. Tots can weave multi-shaped beads across two twisty wires to encourage sensory skills, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. First Bead Maze, $18.99 at Melissa and Doug
2. OESSUF Nesting Bear Toys, $15.99 on Amazon
These stacking toy bears are Russian nesting dolls with a cute twist. Toddlers, attracted to the gentle colors, can develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills while stacking and matching up the different-sized bears. OESSUF Nesting Bear Toys, $15.99 on Amazon
Related: Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds
3. Tender Leaf Toys Musical Table, $129.99 at The Tot
This musical table from Tender Leaf Toys will allow babies and toddlers to experiment with sight and sound. Allow them to feel the rhythm as they bang the tree trunk drums, blow the birdie whistle, clank the xylophone, clack the butterfly wings, and jingle the mushroom bell tops with an acorn stick. Tender Leaf Toys Musical Table, $129.99 at The Tot
4. deMoca Busy Board for Toddlers, $33.95 on Amazon
Sensory busy boards are the perfect way to get toddlers to work on motor skills and intellectual development. This one from deMoca allows your little one to practice basic skills like working with zippers, tying shoe laces and buckling latches. deMoca Busy Board for Toddlers, $33.95 on Amazon
5. The Babbler Play Kit, $120 on Lovevery
Lovevery is an award-winning, Montessori-inspired toy maker selling subscription boxes for babies and toddlers. Designed by child development experts and sustainably made, their play kits, including this Babbler collection for 13, 14, and 15-month-olds, support your child's developing brain. The Babbler Play Kit, $120 on Lovevery
6. Montessori Cooking Together Kit, $100 at Monti Kids
Enjoy cooking together safely with Monti Kids' educator-designed kitchen set for children as young as 18 months. The food-safe, developmentally appropriate kitchen tools support cooking experiences that will help your child build a positive relationship with food, as well as executive function and self-confidence. Montessori Cooking Together Kit, $100 at Monti Kids
7. Rainbow Stacker Classic Toy, $10.99 at Melissa and Doug
Tots can work on their shape, color and size-differentiation skills with this stacker toy, which features seven brightly colored rings, a red topper piece, and solid wood rod on a rocking wooden base. Rainbow Stacker Classic Toy, $10.99 at Melissa and Doug
8. Hape Ducky Push Pal, $17.29 on Amazon
Perfect for kids learning to walk, this push toy from Hape encourages movement, coordination and balance. The gentle push or pull allows the duck to wobble forward on his webbed feet, flapping his wings and entertaining your child. Hape Ducky Push Pal, $17.29 on Amazon
Related: 60 Baby Toys Your Baby Will Actually Play With
9. Cell Shape Sorter, $39.95 at KiwiCo
Toddlers can practice all kinds of skills with this shape sorter from KiwiCo. Help them hone their hand-eye coordination, color recognition, and shape-matching skills as they figure out which blocks fit into which holes. The toy also comes with a colorful biology-themed board book. Cell Shape Sorter, $39.95 at KiwiCo
Etsy shop MontiParent features many great toy options, including this spinning drum, which captures a toddler's attention with its rolling movement. It will help your child develop their arm, wrist and neck muscles, as well as their eye-hand coordination. Montessori Spinning Drum, $32.51 on Etsy
11. First Play Wooden Safari Zig-Zag Tower, $24.99 at Melissa and Doug
With four pieces to roll down a wooden path, this safari-themed tower toy is from Melissa and Doug. The bright colors, bold patterns and whimsical designs boost fine motor skills and color and shape recognition. First Play Wooden Safari Zig-Zag Tower, $24.99 at Melissa and Doug
12. Little Partners Learn 'N Balance Beam, $149.99 on Amazon
This balance beam and stepping stone set from Little Partners is a great activity for growing minds. The foldable and adjustable beam develops your little one's balance safely as you encourage self-esteem, spatial development, and learning about colors. Little Partners Learn 'N Balance Beam, $149.99 on Amazon
13. InnyBin, $25.95 on FatBrainToys
FatBrainToys' InnyBin is a shape exploration experience for little ones. Complete with six chunky shape blocks designed with different textures, tots can play freely as they push the shapes through elastic bands on a cube. They can experiment, and discover! InnyBin, $25.95 on FatBrainToys
14. Wooden Block Color Book, $36 on Etsy
Etsy shop HeirLoomKidsUSA sells this wooden block color book, which is designed to teach toddlers the colors around them. Each original, realistic illustration features an object from the natural world that displays the color on the page. Wooden Block Color Book, $36 on Etsy
15. Montessori Grip Climber Board, $199.99 at Coco Village
As soon as babies can crawl, allow them to further explore their physical abilities with this Montessori Grip Climber Board from Coco Village. Tots can learn their own boundaries while responding to their ever-growing climbing needs with this wooden accessory. Montessori Grip Climber Board, $199.99 at Coco Village
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