Why choose passive toys? Passive toys are toys or materials that do nothing unless the child initiates play, the child must use them, manipulate them for them to work. There is no 'on' switch. Passive toys require the child to use them and therefore can spark the child's curiosity, ignite the child's imagination, encourage the child to ask questions, explore and be an active learner. The child can play with them, manipulate them and come to understand them.
We want toys that the young child can explore, we want toys that make sense and don't act in a random or unexpected way. We want toys that teach children about the world and help them to gain not only an understanding of their environment but of themselves.
We don't want toys that the young child can't understand such as those with batteries, a motor or that wind-up. While they might provide entertainment, the entertainment is shallow, it doesn't give the child any knowledge or develop any skill. Active toys can teach children to be passive, to expect to be entertained.
Passive toys teach concrete concepts such as gravity, cause and effect, how things work and fit together (often mathematical relationships), they can help develop coordination and concentration, develop fine and gross motor skills. Passive toys can teach children perseverance, problem solving and investigative skills. All the child needs is the toys or materials, space and long periods of free uninterrupted play!
Suggestions for a Montessori home:
- Playsilks - I love the mini playsilks for infants but toddlers would love the larger size
- Wooden Building Blocks
- Things that go together - first puzzles, Egg and Cup, Pincer and Palmar Blocks
- First stacking toys
- Manipulative baby toys - Skwish, Wooden Beads, Pop Up Toy
- Instruments - drum, shakers, rhythm sticks
I haven't written a gift guide for infants but you may get some ideas from a previous post Gift Ideas for a one-year-old. As you will find in some of the articles below, many lovely play-things aren't toys at all, but household items that present investigation and learning opportunities.
The Best Toys for Babies Don't Do Anything at Magda Gerber.
Passive toys make active learners at Let the Children Play.
Better Toys for Busy Babies at Janet Lansbury.
There's A Huge Problem With Kids' Toys That No One's Talking About at the Huffington Post.
Too many toys are bad for children, study suggests at The Telegraph.
Toy Store vs Montessori Materials at How we Montessori.