Thursday, 6 December 2012

Montessori Style Toddler Toys

I have posted before about how I organised my toys whilst Childminding but not what those toys were, so thought it was about time I did! I am Montessori trained but rather than using it to the letter, I apply the philosophy to what we do. I get all of my toddler toys from second hand sales and apply a simple set of rules to buying them. They need to be simple, attractive and show clear cause and effect. That is so that the child can understand that something happens because of the action that they do. Many electronic toys are so complex and have a variety of responses of lights and sounds to combinations of buttons, that they are impossible to make sense of to a small child (or often an adult!) and so have little learning value and do not keep a child occupied for very long. I personally find the cacophony of different lights and sounds very irritating and prefer the calmer environment of toddler made noises! The toy collection is about 50% wooden and 50% plastic, I have nothing against plastic, as long as it meets my criteria!
 To start the tour, this Galt toy has a piece of sprung metal inside each of the bases, when the wooden pegs are pressed down and the finger slides off the top, they pop up and out, as you can see the green one doing in the picture.
 This is for hammering the pegs through. I have watched children automatically turning the toy to the next raised peg and they can keep going round and round until they are done.
 This a chicken punch and drop, you can see one of the balls in Idris's hand, but he was experimenting using different implements to push the balls through - a wooden knife from the food basket, the bottle brush that he pinched from the kitchen, his foot and several other things that he found. the balls are pushed through and come rolling out of the front, ringing the little bell on the way.
 This dinosaur pop up is simple to work out for toddlers, each coloured button corresponds with a coloured egg, although they need different actions to make them pop up. The eggs can be bashed back down with a satisfying clump. I used to have an animal version but I quickly realised that because the mouse popped out of a wedge of cheese and it was hinged, it trapped fingers and pinched skin so we upgraded to a safer and less frustrating model!

The click clack track behind is a classic toy, with four small wheeled cars each the colour of one of the slopes and the little cars roll down clicking from slope to slope - endless fascination.
 The chicken stacker is a beautiful version of a stacking toy, I love the harmonious colours and there is a hidden egg under the bottom layer. The roller toy next to it works with a cog movement, when pushed across the floor, the cogs turn and the patterns on the other side turn around. This hasn't been the most popular toy but I'm biding my time until Idris is a bit older to see if he starts using it more, if he doesn't it will probably go back into the next sale!

 This turtle toy, modelled by our lovely one-eyed Poppy dog, is really simple. The child pushed down all five shaped buttons and the head then pings out from the body. Push the head back in and the buttons pop back up again!
 This wooden clock is one of the toys that has never been put away or rotated, children of all ages love taking the numbers in and out, stacking them up with the magnetic buttons in them, trying to swap the shapes around etc.
I also have a wooden peg puzzle which isn't getting much use at the moment but that will come, and some magnetic vehicles that can be pulled apart (these were a gift, not from the sale).

I find that there are usually several permutations of the same toy around, so have a close look and see which you think is most robust, the most well-designed and the most attractive! The only downside to these toys versus electronic ones is that you tend to spend a lot of time collecting pieces back up to return to the box, but I much prefer them and think that the children get so much from them!

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