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November 05, 2018

Montessori Friendly Gifts for Multiple Kids

When you have more than one (or two) kids at home the amount of things you have available for your children can quickly become overwhelming. Choosing toys that can be used by multiple children can be handy control clutter and chaos. 

In Montessori, toys often ideally have a single purpose. We want materials that have a clear beginning, middle, and end. This can make it a bit more difficult to find a toy that would work, for example, for a 1-year-old and a 2.5-year-old. Or would work with two 1-year-olds. 

But, it’s not impossible! While it often requires a little bit of flexibility, some toys will work wonderfully for children of multiple ages or for multiple children. Here are some examples of toys that can be used with multiple children.

Montessori friendly toy ideas for multiple children - things that can be used for multiple ages or more than one child
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Open Ended Toys

Open ended toys are the exception to the singular purpose of Montessori toys. While you won’t often find these in Montessori classrooms, they are a great choice for Montessori homes. Because they are so flexible in purpose, children in a wide variety of ages can use them. Where babies and toddlers can explore their properties, older children can purposefully build and pretend. 

When buying open ended toys, keep in mind: 
  • the number of pieces and the number of children using the material
  • natural materials where possible 
  • as realistic as possible 
Here are a few examples (this list is by no means exhaustive): 

Magnatiles | Magformers | Earth Tiles - engaging for lots of ages. 

Pattern blocks | Translucent Pattern Blocks - while younger kids might match or name shapes, older kids can create complex designs and patterns  

Unit Blocks | Large Pyramid of Blocks - blocks are a classic and come in so many different shapes and sizes, making for flexible and fun building and play 

Marble Run | Marble Tree - These are fun to build and play with together. This is best for children past the mouthing stage. 

Farm animals | Forest Animals | African Wildlife - a basket of animals is my personal go-to for multiple children, from babies to elementary age, these can be very engaging for children. 

Toy Cars | Trucks | Planes - like a basket of animals, a basket of cars/trucks/etc can be engaging for a large number of kids. Also where toddlers might use for language work, older kids will use to pretend and create

Instrument Set - these can be used for so long by children. Babies can explore cause and effect and older children can learn to play.


Art is another area where there are tons and tons of opportunities for children of multiple ages to work with the same material. Here it's often more about the set up than changing the actual materials. 

When buying art supplies, keep in mind:
  • materials should allow for open ended exploration 
  • natural materials where possible 
  • flexible and creative 
Here are a few examples (this list is by no means exhaustive): 

Chalkboard  - This can be hung at a lower height for younger children and raised as children grow. It's a great size for multiple children to use at once. 

Buddha Board - Even young toddlers enjoy making marks on these, and older children (even adults) can use for more purposeful drawing

Large Perler Beads - these are great pegging and fine motor work for younger kids, but can be used to create as they grow

Paint Brush Set - I love this set because of the variety of sizes available

Block Crayons - a great size for little hands (plus super solid and hard to break) but really high quality for work as children grow

Montessori friendly toy ideas for multiple children - things that can be used for multiple ages or more than one child

Puzzles/Games and Specific Toys

It is harder to find options of less open ended toys that work for multiple ages. But, there are toys out there. You want to look for things that can be presented in different ways over time. Maybe a younger child only gets a small amount of something, or a larger version. You want to look for something that the challenge can change over time while still keeping a single purpose. 

When buying specific toys, keep in mind: 
  • natural materials where possible
  • avoid characters and marketing 
  • realistic 
  • singular purpose + built in control of error where possible 
Here are a few examples (this list is by no means exhaustive): 

Plan Toys peg board - I love how it comes with two different sized pegs, so that older and younger children can enjoy

HABA Pallet of Pegs - This can start as a simple pegging work, and grow to be used as pegs+rings, and eventually color matching - a wide variety of ages can use this together.

Nesting Dolls - a baby can do a couple and an older child the whole set

Bead Lacing - you can start with just a couple (or even use for color sorting) and then over time add more and more. Changing the thing that they are lacing on to increase the challenge. 

GuideCraft Nesting Block Puzzle - a small child could use one or two without the frame, and an older child could use the entire thing 

Balancing Scale - younger kids can use for practicing pouring and dumping, while older kids can use to measure and explore weight

Plan Toys Disks and Cups  - transferring, then color sorting, then counting - lots of opportunities here. 

Grimms Friends with Bowls  - a baby could start with just one for pegging, and the challenge could increase over time, moving toward color sorting and pretend play 

Plan Toys Shape Puzzle - a younger child can do one shape (kind of like individual puzzles) and an older child can use multiple shapes and the board, they can also be used for vocabulary with an older child. 

Season Layer Puzzle | Daily Activities Layer Puzzle - a younger child could do one season at a time, and an older child would sort and do puzzles in the frame

Move and Groove Game - lots of ages can use this together or alone, movement and play is always a fun combination

Creature Matching Game - babies can enjoy just the pictures, toddlers can match, and preschoolers can play memory

Outdoor and Gross Motor

There are tons of options when it comes to gross motor and outdoor play! This can get tricky because many gross motor items depend on the size of the child, making it more difficult for them to share. But, it it possible.

When buying gross motor/outdoor toys, keep in mind:

  • should be flexible 
  • natural where possible 
  • child led, using real movement

Here are a few examples (this list is by no means exhaustive):

Wheelbarrow - can start as a aid to walking, and then move to purposeful work

Dome climber - many children can climb and there's so many ways to use this

WobbelBoard - I love this, from babies to adults, these are awesome

Gonge Hilltops - these are so fun, a small child can pull up on them, then climb, and then jump


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Unknown said…
Hi Nicole, thank you for your wonderful work and insightful ideas! I am considering getting a climbing dome for my children for Christmas (they will be 4 and almost 2 years old). Do you think it will serve them a while and worth investing in? Thank you!