A Montessori teacher once told me that she doesn't recommend anything (to parents) that isn't readily available (locally) or affordable. She said that parents had more important things to worry about than sourcing the same cutter or wavy knife that they use in the classroom.
I've felt it too. Hearing that the 'best' Montessori knife/pitcher/toy isn't available or doesn't ship to your country isn't helpful. Regularly promoting materials or toys that are out of the reach or budget of the majority isn't helpful. Making it feel like Montessori materials are exclusive or that creating a Montessori home is unachievable, isn't helpful. What is helpful is to share a wide range of resources. It's helpful to share the knowledge that allows parents to select the materials that are 'best' for their child.
Today I'm sharing some of our favourite Melissa and Doug toys for children aged approximately three to four years. If you have a two year old, read this too, you may find it useful or refer to my previous post Melissa and Doug Toys for the Montessori Toddler - 12 to 24 months+.
Melissa and Doug toys are generally affordable and widely available in the US, UK and Australia. I've found Melissa and Doug toys to last and be able to be donated or passed down in an excellent condition. They are easy to put on wish-lists for family and friends. As always for this age group, I look for toys that are:
- as realistic as possible and are based on reality.
- simple, educational, that are age and developmentally appropriate.
- gender neutral, don't promote stereotypes.
- non licensed (without characters), I try and avoid commercialisation and advertising to my children through toys.
I like Melissa and Doug blocks as they are affordable and come in basic (and useful) shapes. They have lots of stickers and puzzles including tray puzzles and good floor puzzles! I also love their range of stamps and stamp pads, the stamps come in lots of different themes so it's easier to tap into an interest. Here are a few of our favourite toys and materials:
- Wooden Vehicle Magnets - these are going into Otto's (27 months) stocking.
- Wooden Alphabet Magnets - we've used these in the past to spell out the children's names on their little fridges.
- Wooden Animal Magnets - we currently have the farm set on our refrigerator, you can also see how we use them in a tray here.
- Wooden Number Magnets
- Wooden Stencil Set - stencils are fantastic for developing hand control.
- Large Paint Brush Set - can you have too many paint brushes??
- 24 Triangular Crayons - triangular crayons assist many children with their pencil grip.
- Wooden Art Easel
- Spill Proof Paint Cups
- Wooden Pattern Blocks - we love pattern blocks and these are useful for open-ended play too.
- Magnetic Pattern Block Set
- Lace and Trace Pets
- Water Colour Paint Set - I don't think its possible to have too many paint sets.
- Sticker Collection Book - these stickers are pretty realistic and have lots of uses from decorating cards to creating art work.
- Alphabet Stamp Set - you can see how we use ours here.
- Baby Zoo Animal Stamps - Melissa and Doug have so many good stamps.
- Rainbow Stamp Pad - always useful!
- Wooden Chairs and Table
- Wooden Weaving Loom - I haven't used this but it's been on my wish-list.
- Modelling Clay and Tool Set - these could also be used with play dough.
- Wooden Block Set - all the basic shapes at great price.
- To The Rescue Puzzle (24 piece)
- Wild Animals Jigsaw Puzzles (12 piece)
- Scissor Skills Activity Book - in the past I've printed pictures for my children to cut out, so I love this idea and saves me from having to print my own!
- Fire Chief Costume - reality based dress ups can be fun for children (think vet, doctor, fire chief).
- Vehicle Jigsaw Puzzles (12 piece)
- Pets Jigsaw Puzzles (12 piece)
- Construction Site Puzzle (48 piece)
- Pretend to Spend Wallet (USD) - this is good for role play and perhaps some early maths too.
- Self-correcting Alphabet Puzzle - remember in Montessori we teach the lower case first.
- Self-correcting Numbers Puzzle
- Giant Fire Truck Floor Puzzle - this is one of our favourites.
- Wooden Fold and Go Barn
- Large Barnyard Floor Puzzle
- Going Places Floor Puzzle - my two year old loves these large floor puzzles so don't hesitate to get them out and do them together.
Let me know if you have some Melissa and Doug favourites for this age group!
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