10 Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers in 2024



· 8 min read
10 Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers in 2024

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova


The Montessori method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. Montessori's educational philosophy emphasizes supporting a child's natural development through purposeful activities that engage the child's interests and allow for exploration at their own pace. Montessori classrooms are carefully prepared environments with hands-on materials that encourage independence, focus, coordination and problem-solving skills.

Montessori toys and materials apply these same principles for learning through play at home. High quality Montessori toys are designed to spark curiosity, develop fine motor skills, enhance sensory awareness and introduce early math and literacy concepts. Rather than flashy electronic gadgets, Montessori toys tend to be simple, open-ended and made from natural materials. Toddlers can use Montessori toys to actively engage with their environment and gain the satisfaction of completing tasks independently.

In this article, we'll highlight 10 of the best Montessori toys that align with Montessori philosophy and support a toddler's development. We'll review each toy's key features, benefits and recommended ages.

1. Wooden Rainbow Stacker

A wooden rainbow stacker is a classic Montessori toy that helps develop hand-eye coordination and color recognition in toddlers. This toy features a wooden rod with colorful rings that stack on top. Starting with the largest ring, toddlers grasp and stack each ring by its color. This activity strengthens fine motor skills and the ability to differentiate between colors and sizes.

According to research by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, manipulative toys like stackers encourage the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as toddlers grasp, lift, and place the rings (NAEYC). As toddlers stack the rings in order, they also learn to recognize and identify colors, gaining knowledge of color names and sequences.

Wooden rainbow stackers are ideal for toddlers ages 12-36 months. As an open-ended toy, stackers allow toddlers to explore colors, patterns, and problem solving at their own pace. This self-directed play encourages curiosity, confidence, and concentration.

2. Montessori Sandpaper Letters

Montessori sandpaper letters are a classic Montessori material that help toddlers recognize and trace the alphabet through touch. The letters are printed in cursive or manuscript font on pieces of sandpaper that the child can feel and trace with their fingers. This multisensory experience engages sight, sound, and touch to teach letter recognition in a concrete way.

Tracing the sandpaper letters helps toddlers understand the shape and directionality of writing letters, building fine motor skills and preparing them for eventually writing the letters themselves. As they trace, the adult names the letter and describes the sound it makes, reinforcing phonemic awareness.

According to The Sandpaper Letters guide the hand for writing as the child traces the letter shapes in the style and direction that they are written (source). Montessori sandpaper letters allow the child to understand writing before they can hold a pencil, engaging multiple senses like tactile, auditory, and sight (source).

3. Sorting Board with Containers

A Montessori sorting board is a fantastic toy for toddlers to practice categorization and organization. The boards come with various small objects like beads, pegs, shapes, etc. that toddlers can sort into matching containers. Sorting helps develop cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, and color/shape recognition.

An example is the Montessori Sorting Board and Jars Set which includes a wooden sorting tray and 6 small containers for sorting. It comes with 48 colorful beads in 6 different shapes for toddlers to sort and match. The containers help toddlers visually categorize the objects. This set is recommended for ages 18 months and up.

Sorting toys like this teach toddlers how to classify objects based on traits like color, shape, and size. Having containers with specific shapes helps toddlers learn to match the objects properly. They also develop focus and concentration as they carefully examine each item and decide where it belongs. The hands-on learning makes categorization fun and interactive.

According to The Wooden Wagon, sorting toys are some of the best Montessori toys for developing cognitive abilities and dexterity in toddlers. Sorting boards allow open-ended play for toddlers to use their own reasoning and repetition to master the categorization skills.

4. Shape Sorting Puzzle

A shape sorting puzzle is a classic Montessori toy that helps develop shape recognition and spatial awareness in toddlers. The toddler takes different colored and shaped blocks and tries to fit them into the correctly shaped cutouts on the puzzle board.

As they manipulate the blocks, toddlers strengthen fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Having to rotate and turn the blocks to fit them into the cutout spaces improves spatial reasoning. The colors and shapes introduce new vocabulary words as well. Sorting the blocks also teaches categorization and organization.

Look for a wooden shape sorter with chunky, easy-to-grasp blocks. Make sure the puzzle includes basic shapes like circles, squares, triangles, stars, and rectangles. Puzzles with knobs add an extra element of difficulty for more advanced toddlers. Check that puzzle pieces fit snugly into the cutouts without being too loose or too tight.

For kids 18 months and up, the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube is a top choice. The knobbed blocks offer an extra challenge while building fine motor skills. It's sized just right for little hands and can be used on the floor or tabletop.

5. Lacing Beads

Lacing beads are a classic Montessori toy that help develop fine motor skills in toddlers. Threading the beads onto a lace improves hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and concentration. The bright colors and variety of bead shapes make this activity engaging for young children.

According to Montessori Services, wooden lacing beads with large holes are ideal for toddlers learning how to lace: "Easy-to-manipulate wooden lacing beads develop fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. With practice, the child's movements become refined." [1]

Popular lacing bead options include animals, fruits, vegetables, letters, and numbers. Having an assortment allows toddlers to sort and classify the beads by category. Completing a full necklace or bracelet gives a great sense of accomplishment.

6. Peg Board

The Montessori peg board is an excellent toy for developing hand-eye coordination and concentration in toddlers. It consists of a wooden board with holes and brightly colored pegs that fit into the holes. Toddlers learn how to carefully insert and remove the pegs, which strengthens their finger muscles and dexterity. According to Montessoriandme.us, "Kickstart your child's early math development with the Montessori & Me Counting Peg Board! This unique learning material introduces one-to-one correspondence."

As toddlers manipulate the pegs, they are focused intently on the task at hand. This teaches them concentration and self-discipline. Peg boards also allow for open-ended play and creativity. Toddlers can create simple patterns, shapes, and designs by placing pegs in certain holes. They can also learn sorting and counting skills by grouping pegs by color. The Montessori peg board provides important sensorial stimulation and problem-solving opportunities for young toddler brains.

Peg boards are suitable for toddlers 18 months and up. Look for a board with pegs large enough for little hands to grasp and holes spaced appropriately so they are not too difficult to insert. High quality wooden peg boards encourage repetitive use. With adult supervision, toddlers can enjoy open-ended play with peg boards to gain key developmental skills.

7. Pounding Bench

A pounding bench is an excellent Montessori toy for toddlers that promotes sensory exploration. Toddlers can use small wooden hammers or mallets to pound different objects into holes on the bench surface. According to Montessori principles, this activity helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

As children pound, they receive tactile feedback through vibrations and sound. This engages their senses of touch and hearing. Pounding toys also allow toddlers to freely experiment and control the force they use. With adult supervision, it teaches cause and effect in a safe way.

Highly-rated options like the Hape Pound & Tap Bench provide a sturdy wooden design. It includes 4 different pounding toys for open-ended play. The bench has holes sized for toddler hands to grasp the mallets easily. Reviewers mention it holds up well and the bright colors maintain a toddler's interest.

For younger toddlers, Melissa & Doug make a soft pounding bench with cushioned mallets. This creates a gentler sensory experience for babies transitioning to hammering toys. It introduces the concepts of pounding without being too loud.

Overall, pounding benches allow self-directed play that is calming and focused. The repetitive motion also helps develop bilateral coordination. With supervision, it teaches toddlers about spatial relationships, cause and effect, and problem solving (Amazon, n.d.)

This classic Montessori activity remains engaging as toddlers' skills progress.

8. Nesting Cups

Nesting cups are a classic Montessori toy that help toddlers develop fine motor skills and practice size discrimination. They come in a set of colorful cups that all stack inside one another from largest to smallest. Toddlers will enjoy taking them out and putting them back in, which strengthens hand-eye coordination. The different sizes also allow them to understand big vs. small and order based on size.

According to MontessoriMaterials.org, nesting cups are usually made of wood or plastic and come in vivid primary colors that appeal to toddlers (Montessori Materials: Nesting Stacking Cups). Sets often include 5 cups ranging from about 2 inches tall for the smallest to 5 inches for the largest. The cups have a lip or handle that makes them easy for little hands to grasp and lift.

As toddlers stack and nest the cups, they gain important sensorial experience discriminating between different sizes. This understanding of size comparison is a key early math skill. Nesting cups can be used alongside other stacking toys or blocks to further develop size sequencing abilities.

9. Montessori Mobiles

Montessori mobiles are a fundamental part of the Montessori nursery, designed to stimulate visual and cognitive development from a very young age. These mobiles often feature simple, high-contrast geometric shapes that move gently in the air, capturing the attention of infants and promoting concentration. As babies watch these shapes, they begin to track movement with their eyes, aiding in the development of their visual tracking skills.

From birth to around 3 months, the Munari mobile, with its black and white shapes, is perfect for newborns, who see high-contrast colors more clearly. As the child grows, they can progress to mobiles with more colors and complex shapes, such as the Octahedron mobile, which introduces primary colors in geometric forms. Montessori mobiles not only enhance visual perception but also encourage early spatial and aesthetic sense development. These mobiles are typically hung over cribs or play mats, allowing babies to observe them from a safe distance.

10. Texture Matching Boards

Texture matching boards are an excellent Montessori tool to refine tactile senses and vocabulary in young children. Each board features a variety of textures such as smooth, rough, bumpy, and soft. Children are encouraged to touch and feel each texture with their fingers and then match similar textures found on separate pieces or boards. This activity enhances tactile discrimination and helps build the vocabulary associated with different sensations.

Ideal for children aged 18 months and older, texture boards can be made from safe, natural materials like wood, fabric, or paper. Some boards include household materials like sandpaper, felt, or silk, which are glued onto wooden squares. As children engage with these boards, they also learn adjectives like "scratchy," "slick," and "fuzzy," which are essential for sensory language development. Furthermore, this Montessori activity promotes concentration and patience as children carefully explore and compare each texture. Texture boards can be used in both solo and guided play, making them a versatile addition to any Montessori learning environment.


In conclusion, the top 10 Montessori toys for toddlers in 2024 provide a range of educational benefits to support their development. The wooden rainbow stacker helps develop coordination and problem-solving skills. Sandpaper letters introduce early literacy concepts. Sorting toys build categorization abilities. Shape sorting puzzles and pegboards improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Lacing beads and pounding benches develop concentration. And nesting cups allow exploration of sizes and dimensions.

These open-ended toys encourage independence, exploration and discovery. With multi-sensory experiences, they engage toddlers' natural curiosity and foster practical life abilities. When thoughtfully chosen, Montessori toys nurture toddlers' cognitive, motor, language and social-emotional growth through purposeful play.


About Maria

Maria is not just a contributor to NowKiddy; she's also a devoted mother who has personally navigated the joys and challenges of parenting. With three children raised under her attentive guidance, she has amassed a wealth of experience and knowledge ...

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