Monday, December 03, 2007

Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys (3 to 6 Years)

NAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 3-6 children with chalk
We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye. It is the hand that drives the subsequent evolution of the brain. . . The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.
- Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

Most commercial toy manufacturers would have us believe that the best toys for 3-6 year olds are based on cartoon characters or interactive computer and TV programs. However, we as Montessorians know that 3-6 year old children need large muscle movement with increasing refinement of smaller muscles – legs, arms, hands – all the way down to the pincer grip of holding crayons and pencils.

We also know that during these crucial years is an impressionistic time for sensorial development. Children are experiencing their environment using all of their senses. Toys should help lay the foundation for the child to think and act creatively.

Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys (3 to 6 Years)

We know that spending too much time in front of the TV and computer turns children in to passive learners, ones who would rather have information handed to them rather than questioning and exploring the answers for themselves. They become expectant of extrinsic motivation and rewards, rather than becoming internally motivated.

This is why we need to be aware of the toys our children are playing with and be ready to make suggestions when parents and grandparents ask for advice.

3-6 years old
  • Jump ropes
  • Tangrams
  • Hammer and cork board
  • Lacing activities and cards
  • Bead stringing
  • Log Cabin building sets
  • LegoNAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 3-6 boy with magnifying glass
  • Wooden blocks
  • Magnet building sets
  • Tinker Toys
  • Dolls
  • Toy cars and trucks
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Memory games
  • Traditional games such as Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Chess, Marbles, Tiddlywinks, Pick Up Sticks
  • Hula Hoops
  • Tri- and Bicycles
  • Swings
  • Balance Beam
  • Child-size brooms and mops
  • Aprons for cooking, painting, and crafts
  • Percussion instruments
  • Modeling clay and tools
  • Colored pencils and sketchbooks
  • Peg looms
  • Knitting needles and yarn
  • Compass
  • Magnifying glass
  • Child-size watering can and gardening tools
  • Flower press
  • Plastic animal and dinosaur models
  • Sand and water trays
  • Butterfly net
  • Bug “vacuum”
  • Sidewalk chalk

Whatever toys we choose, we must remember that the most important element is to be certain that they engage the child mentally for long periods of time, combining both hand/muscle movement with brain activity.

Learn more about how children experience their environment using all of their senses in NAMC’s Preschool/Kindergarten (3-6) Sensorial Development & Music Enrichment curriculum manual.
Read more on this series:
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, December 3, 2007.


  1. Hi,
    this is fabulous information. Thanks for the list. It's so concise and defined so no doubts are left. I will be using this for my granddaughter whose mother enjoys making aprons for children to wear in the montessori classroom.

    Thanks again.

  2. Hi Juanita,

    I hope your granddaugher enjoys her gifts!



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