Friday, November 30, 2007

Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys (Birth to 3 Years)

NAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 0-3 infant playing

It’s the holiday season, and if you’re like me, you’re making your list and checking it twice, making sure that everyone is taken care of with just the right gift. As my son gets older, it seems he’s harder to shop for. He’s outgrown the need for so many toys, but he’s not yet at the stage where getting clothes is cool. Thinking back to the countless hours I've spent at large retail toy outlets trying to decide on the perfect holiday toys, I decided to take a look at what toys are developmentally appropriate as well as educationally sound at the various developmental stages. I’ll begin with ages 0-36 months.

 Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys (Birth to 3 Years)

  • Handheld toys. It may be awhile until an infant can hold them, but held directly in their line of vision, infants can at least bat at them.
  • Music boxes and CD players that play a pleasant variety of music will help soothe an infant.
  • Mobiles that attach to the side of the crib with high contrast color and pattern are a favorite. Infants also like ones that play music.
  • Wrist or ankle rattles allow infants to experiment with cause and effect.

3-6 months
  • Activity centers are for infants who are still horizontal. Infants can bat at toys, spin spinners and turn dials.
  • Lightweight rattles are great for making noise.
  • Activity bars keep infants occupied while in the car or stroller.
  • Soft stuffed animals with no potential choking hazards are good at this age since they start forming attachments to plush animals at this time.

6-12 months
    NAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 0-3 infant and mirror
  • Mirrors are good toys for infants because they enjoy looking at themselves. Mirrors help strengthen the muscles in their eyes as they learn to focus. Mirrors also help young children develop a sense of self.
  • Wooden puzzles help young children develop their fine motor skills and encourage spatial awareness.
  • Rhythm instruments help children learn about cause and effect. They also aid in developing eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Teething rings help children find their mouths and help teach the beginnings of self-help care.
  • Push toys at this age should be large, simple animals or cars with wheels that turn easily and encourage children to move and crawl.
  • Stacking and Nesting toys teach order and control of error.
  • Pail and Shovels are great for filling up and dumping out.

12-18 months
  • Push toys for early walkers should have a rigid rod to push the toy ahead of them.
  • Blocks for stacking and sorting. They can be interlocking plastic blocks, as small as 2” x 4”, wooden geometric blocks, or large plain cardboard blocks for building.
  • Water toys provide hours of fun. Look for toys that float, water mills that the child can pour water into to create movement, watering cans, and child safe paint brushes to “paint” with water. (Adult supervision should always occur with water play).
  • Balls that are easy to grasp help children at this age learn to catch. Watch for balls that are too small that might present a choking risk.

18-24 months
    NAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 0-3 infant reading
  • Picture books encourage intimate time spent with the caregiver and child. They also teach pre-reading skills, such as book orientation and talking about books.
  • Push toys for this level depict adult activities such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn, shopping carts or doll carriages.
  • Climbing gyms provide a safe place to climb, hide, slide, and practice emerging motor skills.
  • Ride-on toys are great. Some come with handles so adults can push when little legs get tired. Avoid motorized ones that do the moving for the child. Also, they are still quite young to use pedals.
  • Train sets help build manual dexterity. They also start to see how objects move differently on different surfaces.
  • Crayons, especially washable ones, are a great creative outlet. Offer only a few jumbo sized crayons at a time so as not to overwhelm your young artist. Also, taping the paper in place makes sure the paper doesn't slide or tear.

24-30 months
  • Child-size household equipment. Nothing says Montessori better than real child-size objects. Show the child how to use them then step back and watch them go!
  • Construction toys such as giant Lego or a set that can be linked or snapped together improves manual dexterity and imagination.

30-36 months
  • Beginning board games like Chutes and Ladders or I Spy or card games like Memory aid brain development and teach beginning sportsmanship.
  • NAMC Montessori Inspired Age Appropriate Toys 0-3 playground
  • Outdoor equipment is a great way to put those gross motor skills to use. Choose swings, bats and balls, soft soccer balls, miniature basketball hoops, and play golf sets.
  • Books. Your toddler is able to start following narratives and can understand longer, more complicated stories.
Whatever you choose, the best toys are those that are well-built and encourage self-exploration. It’s also important to remember these important safety rules:
  • Avoid toys with small parts, which can pose choking hazards Avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, magnets can cause series injuries, even death.
  • Projectile toys are for older children and not to be used around infants and toddlers as they could result in serious eye injury.
  • Chargers and adapters should only be used with adult supervision as they can pose thermal burn hazards for children.

To purchase age appropriate education toys, may we suggest Lakeshore Learning.
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 Friday, November 30, 2007.


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