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September 08, 2023

Montessori Toddler: Toys to Support Horizontal Play

When you think about stacking toys, I have a feeling that immediately vertical stacking comes to mind! Am I right?! There are so many amazing Montessori toddler toys that work on vertical stacking and posting work. Some of my favorites are introduced all throughout the toddler years! From learning to post/peg to learning to sort by size and shape, there are so many awesome opportunities. 

But, what if I told you, vertical stacking toys aren't the only option available for Montessori toddlers?! It's true, there is a whole host of Montessori toddler work that helps children learn to post horizontally! These toys provide a whole new challenge and skills for your toddler to learn. 

A collage of Montessori toddler toys that promote horizontal play

Why Choose Horizontal Toys for your Montessori Toddler?

There are a couple of reasons to consider adding some of these toys to your toddler's shelves. One, is wrist rotation and grip. In order to be successful with horizontal toys, the pieces require a different approach than the vertical stacking toys. Your toddler will need to learn to rotate their wrist or grip to get the pieces to slide on/in horizontally. This wrist rotation will eventually become more and more important as your toddler gets closer to writing. 

This rotation helps to build muscles throughout the hands and arms. It is an important fine motor skill that we often overlook. Here is some more information about how wrist rotation effects writing skills later on.

small toddler holds a Montessori toy, horizontal dowel

It also often encourages children to cross the midline as they push the rings/poms from one direction to another. Crossing the midline (from one side of the body to the other) is an important activity for building connections between both halves of their brain. 

These toys also provide a unique problem solving opportunity. So many toys and materials emphasize vertical stacking and building. It's not often that young toddler materials are flipping that play horizontally. As a result, these materials have always been super engaging for my toddlers. At 19-months-old, Penelope has been really interested in these toys for several months. The disks were popular, and a great challenge level for her around 14-15 months old, now she is very into the pom pom slide. 

Horizontal Montessori Toddler Toys to Consider

The order that I've introduced these materials to Penelope is just what has made sense to me based on my observation of her, but following your own child and their interests is best! The ages are approximate.  

  1. Horizontal Dowel: (14-months) the simplest variation. The rings go on and off horizontally. I've introduced once smaller vertical stacking has been mastered. (option 2)
  2. Serpentine Dowel: (16-months) more difficult as they ring needs to move up and down and then ends with vertical stacking. Add to the challenge for older toddlers by trying to do it without hitting the metal. I introduce once the horizontal motion is understood. (option 2)
  3. Pom Pom Slide: (19 months) This one is more challenging because theres an element of object permanence involved as the pom poms disappear. They need to be pushed through using several of the poms at once. Introduced once I see more sustained activity since one pom wont do anything. (DIY)
  4. Ring Slide: (anticipated 20-22 months) more difficult because need more control, if too wild the rings wont land on the peg. Looking for sustained activity and precision. (option 2)

There are so many incredible Montessori toys available for toddlers. Next time you're considering what to add to your toddler's work shelves, consider horizontal options! These have some fun benefits and are a great challenge level! 

There are some amazing benefits to providing your toddler the opportunity to explore horizontal toys. Read more to discover those benefits and find a few Montessori toddler toy options to consider for your home.

Any of these horizontal Montessori toys a favorite with your toddler? 


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