How to organize toys the Montessori way

Meta Title: The Montessori Way of Organizing Your Little One’s Toys

Meta Description: The Montessori way works in the home, too. It is easier than you think. You can buy the perfect toys for your child and organize them to help him achieve his…

Montessori education is not just about piling in information but about nurturing a child’s need for understanding, knowledge, and respect. In the  Montessori way, learning is led and paced by the child in his nurturing environment.

In a Montessori school, there are extra benefits, like the leadership of peers in a multi-age classroom and a healthy environment, ripe for growth, where children are assessed, guided, and enriched by adults trained in the Montessori method. 

While this is true, you can design your child’s room and playroom the Montessori way. These same principles can be implemented at home. After all, your house is the rightful place for a cozy space for play and learning.

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What Does the Montessori Method Say About Toys?

While Maria Montessori did not actually design any “Montessori toys”, you can, by her educational methods and guidelines, get a really good idea of what she would deem appropriate toys. Here are some guidelines:

Toys Made From Natural Materials


  • Wood
    • There are different types of wood, like oak and cedar, but most wooden toys are made from cherry, maple, birch, and pine.
    • These woods look, feel, and smell differently, so wood stimulates your child’s senses.
  • Metal
    • Metal toys are mostly made from alloys.
    • The temperature of metals changes from cool to warm after your child holds it in his hand for a minute, stimulating his senses.
    • Die-cast toys are made from Zamac which is an acronym for zinc, the base, and aluminum, magnesium, and copper. 
    • Zamac will not rust, like iron or steel.
    • You can read about the advantages and disadvantages of sustainable metal toys here

Toys About Real Life

You want to ground your child in reality, not fantasy. Read them books based on reality: Hippopotamuses in hula skirts are out, but frogs on a lily pad in a pond are in. Cause and effect toys are great for reality teaching. Authentic busy boards with results for actions are great. Toys that light up randomly instead of when your child pushes a button or flips a switch are just babysitters and will end up boring your child anyway.

Simple Toys

Organized input results in the best learning for your child. A toddler needs stuff like colorful wooden blocks, rings, balls, or geometric shapes.

Non-Passive Toys

Your child must be active in play with the toys he has. He must have to do something to make something happen – to spark ideas, make decisions, and assert his own will. He needs to interact and erect with the toys, manipulate them. This will teach him that he is a capable person.

Limited Selection of Toys

Don’t offer your child too many toys, as small children have a hard time deciding between lots of things. It will distract his focus. It is best, once he decides on a toy, for him to spend some time working with that same toy for a while, to explore and experiment.

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How Can I Set Up a Montessori Toy Shelf at Home?

These are some Montessori toy shelf guidelines:

  • Low to the ground
    • So that babies and toddlers can see and access things on the top shelf
    • Babies can also use this shelf to pull up on and support themselves with
  • Made of real wood to promote sensory skills
  • Open in the back to show more natural light
  • Solid and stable so that your child is safe
    • Heavy so it does not topple over when your child pulls up on it
    • If not, fasten it to the wall
  • Simple, without a lot of designs so your child can focus on learning from his toys

For more information on Montessori shelves, you can find out more about what is a Montessori shelf or check out our full guide to the best Montessori shelves.

What Toys Should I Put in my Child’s Playroom?

You want toys that are going to help your child build gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory skills, and more. Montessori toys are about independence, self-reliance, self-respect, and your child understanding the world he is living in.

Some toys that you may want to put in your child’s Montessori playroom are:

  • A small table and chair for writing and crafts
  • Busy boards/boxes
    • These are great, but make sure they are wooden and that they don’t just do random stuff. Cause and effect!
    • Also, too busy is bad.
  • Other wooden toys, like:
    • Blocks
    • Books
    • Rings
    • Geometric shapes
    • Puzzles
  • Soft stuffed animals
    • In soft, non-overwhelming colors
    • Without parts that can come off and choke your child
  • Nesting cups
  • A toddlers’ hammer and pegs set or screwdriver and screws set
  • Realistic vehicle toys and little realistic people to ride in them
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How Can I Organize My Child’s Playroom Using the Montessori Method?

You should fill your shelves with no more than 6-8 choices of toys for your little one. Arrange them neatly and watch him go. For tiny ones, put the soft stuff on the top Montessori shelf. 

Where Should My Child’s Playroom Be?

Your playroom should be close to where you spend most of your time, probably in or near the center of your home, because you need to be able to hear what is going on with the young children in that room at all times.

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How Can I Declutter My Child’s Montessori Playroom and Keep It Organized?

Every home has to organize their playroom a little differently because their Montessori materials are different. Here are a few simple hints:

  • Make a place for everything so that your child can learn order.
  • You will have craft supplies, puzzles, blocks, paper, pencils, and so forth, so you will need a few different methods.
    • Anything with loose parts like puzzles needs to go into a bag or something.
    • Get notebooks or something to hold paper and a pencil bag for pencils.
    • Get some clear plastic bins. If you don’t have a label maker, a piece of paper and some packaging tape works fine.
  • Just be neat and orderly and do you.

How Should I Rotate Toys on My Child’s Montessori Shelves?

This is one of the reasons why you don’t put an overabundance of toys on your child’s Montessori shelves. With fewer items on his shelves, you can watch him to see what his current interests are and what he shuns and is tired of. Then, you will know which toys to rotate out for new ones.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Montessori at Home?

Components of the Montessori method are simple and work on physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Outside, for instance, you may have a sandbox and a place to wash a toy truck, bus, or boat. There is no exact set of toys. You decide which toys are best for your child and his interests and temperament.