A few weeks ago, I shared how we organized Owen’s toys at home using the Montessori method in my efforts to reduce clutter. I got so many questions about it that I decided to put it in blog post format for any future toddler parents!
Some of Owen’s Favorite Toys
Numbers Puzzle | Geometric Wood Stacker | Truck and Trailer | Hotwheels Cars | Lovevery toys from our subscription (ends at 24 months and absolutely worth it!) | MicroMini Scooter, we also have this helmet
We do not fully practice this method at home, and I honestly don’t know that much about it, but read some blogs on the Montessori method of organizing toys and loved the idea. Essentially, you want to offer less options for them so they don’t get overwhelmed when they play. It turns out, and I now know from experience, that they’re far more likely to actually play with stuff when there are less options than when they have a zillion options.
Too many options results in decision overload and then they don’t do it at all. I can relate to those feelings, haha!
What is the Montessori Method?
If this is totally new to you (it was to me!), this method encourages children to decide what activities they want to do and is very hands-on when it comes to learning and playing. Adults create the environment that’s age appropriate, and then let the children do things in their own unique ways.
Montessori Approach to Toys
Like I said, we don’t fully practice this method at home, but for toys—it was genius! Instead of stacking toys up on shelves, you need open, empty shelves with plenty of space. On those shelves, put each toy (and limit it to 6 or so depending on the size) in it’s own place so your child can clearly see each one. For puzzles or items with pieces, you can take the pieces out and put them in a little bowl on top of the puzzle to encourage them to complete the puzzle.
It’s also suggested to have a variety of different types of toys. We have puzzles, cars (still his favorite), a matching game, some felt stars and toddler’s tweezers, etc. Each one of these works on different skills—imaginative play, fine motor skills, problem solving, counting, shape recognition, etc.
When Owen was a little over one, I signed up for the Lovevery subscription and wish I had done it earlier. Each set, which comes every 3 months, is filled with age-appropriate toys, plus a little guidebook to help you teach them how to play and what skills they’re working on. It ends at 24 months, but these are still some of Owen’s favorite toys. They’re beautiful, well-made and will be around for baby two for sure! I highly recommend it!
The other key thing is to have toys that are engaging, not simply entertaining. To me, this means no plastic, electronic toys, which is fine by me because those annoy me anyway.
Every couple of weeks, I swap out the toys while he’s napping or at school, so when he comes home there’s a whole new set of goodies to play with. What I love about this is that I’ll find him playing with things he used to never touch.
He definitely has his favorites and plays with certain ones more than others. It’s so cool to watch and has helped a ton with keeping him calm, focused and happy. Since doing this a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed a lot less tantrums or meltdowns which is awesome.
How Screen Time Affects Owen
We try to avoid screen time as much as we can, though we do allow a couple of movies each week. I’ve also found that the less screen time he has, the happier and more agreeable he is! I’m sure some of you guys have noticed this too!
Why We Love Using the Montessori Method at Home
Like I said, I am in no way a pro here, but wanted to share because it’s been so helpful for us in keeping Owen engaged and learning, and also keeping the peace around here during these long winter months! Even if this is just in regards to his toys!
If you’re looking for good Montessori toys, we absolutely love all the boxes we got from Lovevery! They end at 2, but we’ll use them for any future kids, and Owen still plays with a bunch of the toys that came in there. I’m on the hunt for a new subscription box for ages 2 and up—any suggestions? We also have loved Melissa & Doug toys and have quite a few! Our favorite are listed at the beginning and end of this post
One area we’re lacking in the crafts department. Owen hasn’t shown a ton of interest in drawing, so I just haven’t invested in it, but I think as he gets older, he’ll get more into it. Once it’s warm, I think it will be so fun to have a little craft station outside on the patio to avoid indoor messes, ha!
Do you practice Montessori or any elements of it at home? What tips do you have to share—leave them in the comments!