Skip to main content

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

6 Montessori friendly open-ended toys that we love

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perfect for building creativity, dramatic/pretend play, and a way for multiple age groups to work and connect together. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

But, there are all the options when it comes to open ended toys! And, I know that we still have too many here at home. But, as I'm starting my annual "before Christmas purge" I'm thinking about what my kids truly use. And, these are the 6 open ended toys that make my "worth it" list: 

Grimms Large Pyramid - We received these as a gift from a grandparents a few years ago and they have NEVER once been rotated away. They are that well loved. Not only are they beautiful and sturdy, but these blocks are so well designed. They are mathematically related in size to one another so that blocks can be explored in really unique ways. We also have unit blocks and smaller building things, but time and time again, my kids return to work with these. Plus their puzzle like nature makes cleaning them up as fun as playing. 

Downsides: They are expensive, really really expensive. The colors have rubbed from one block to another a bit, it's not a huge deal, but it was a bit surprising.  

Wobbel Board -  I LOVE this thing. Not because my kids love it, but because I seriously could Wobbel all day long. No joke. It holds adult weight! Morgan loves it, I love it, the kids love it! We all love it. It can be a bridge, a tunnel, a gross motor toy, a place to relax, a place to rock, a place to read. It is seriously so engaging. 

Downsides: the felt on the bottom has been great for play and for protecting our floors, but it has attracted every piece of dog hair ever. And IT.WILL.NOT come out. 


Play Silks - Need a fort? Need a cape? Need a river? Need a baby sling? Need snuggly spot? Need some peek-a-boo? Well, all you really need is a play silk. My kids have really really thought up some creative ways to use these and the more we have the more they seem to use them really uniquely. They have replaced the need to drag out all the blankets to make forts and allow them to be so much more independent (since they are so much lighter). Plus, if you have a sensory seeker child, these provide a really great amount of sensory input! 

Downsides: Honestly, my kids took a little bit to warm up to these, at first they were almost too open ended and they weren't sure what to do with them. Also, need a few to make it worth it. 


Animal Figures - Give my kids all the animals, especially Nora and Gus. Those two could do so much with a basket of animals. They have been the perfect toy for pretty much every kind of play ever. We have mostly stuck with Schliech brand. Plus, these are perfect for more structured work too, so they kind of can serve both those purposes. 

Downsides: there are a ton of options when it comes to model animals, and mixing and matching can lead to some weird sizing issues. Schliech, in particular, are hard to find in person and can be expensive. 


Magnatiles - Magnet builders just seem to have an allure for young children. They add a new dimension to building that seems to bring out their creativity. The see-through colors and quality of the builders also add a different dimension to what is happening. My kids have loved these for so long. And, they are just really engaging, even for me as an adult. 

Downsides: Again, there are a ton of brands and they don't mix-and-match well. Also, I've found that you really need quite a few of them to be able to build more substantial buildings. 

Lego - There's not much to say here, these are a classic! But, seriously, especially for Henry as he has gotten older, this is the one toy he really wants and needs to play with. The creative things that Lego allows for, plus the great fine motor practice of the little blocks, these are a total must-have for us. 

Downside: These are hard to have in a mixed age environment since Gus is still so likely to eat them. 

6 Montessori friendly open-ended toys that we love

Which open ended toys are worth it for your family? Which of these would make your list? What's missing from your list? 

---

Comments

Unknown said…
Hi there! Do you know the name of that hexagonal play structure in the picture with the playsilk? It looks so much fun for my 20 month old monkey in training!
This is it! https://amzn.to/2IMfAvg (aff)

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2020

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure! 2021 UPDATE: Please be patient with links this year, with supply chain issues things are selling out faster and restocking slower. I anticipate some of the specialty toys will not restock once they are gone. So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created toys, but only works for classroom settings. While there are many work

Montessori Toddler: Favorite Toys and Activities 18 to 20 months

I've been putting off this post for a little while because I felt a little disappointed that I didn't have more to share. See, Teddy just isn't that into materials, especially those on the shelf. He tends to return to a couple of favorites over and over again and ignore all other attempts at shelf work. But, really that's my own adult feelings getting in the way of Teddy's own interests, and developmental path.  It's also me subconsciously valuing fine motor skills and stillness as more important than gross motor play and movement. I working hard not to do that, and want to normalize that all toddlers are different. All children have different interests and that concentration doesn't have to mean sitting still for long stretches of time.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. With all that said, here are some of Teddy's favorites over the last couple of months. Favorite Montessori Toys 18 to 20 Months I'm listing the toys that have be

Our Kids' Montessori Gift Lists 2020

With the holiday season upon us we've been making lists and gathering gifts for the Kavanaugh children. It's always a fun process of observing my children, seeing what they would really be interested in and making some decisions based on what I see. This year is different because I'm also making decisions knowing that we are looking at a very long and quiet winter ahead. So that's influencing the amount I will buy and the specific choices I will/have made.  Henry and Nora are also at the point, being into the second plane of development, where they heavily influence the items on the list and what is ultimately purchased. So, you'll see that while Montessori influences what I will purchase and what goes on their list, so does their own preferences and personality.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Theodore Teddy is 14-months-old right now and as the fourth baby, we have so many toddler things. But, there are a few things I've still found tha