Ultimate Gift Guide Of Montessori Toys For 2 to 3 Year Olds

Choosing montessori gifts for a 2 year old is a great way to engage little hands and minds. While the montessori method was intended for schools and Dr. Maria Montessori never created any official educational toys for the home, these are the best montessori gift ideas for 2 to 3 year olds that fall in line with the montessori philosophy encouraging independence, a deep focus and problem-solving skills, as well as challenging their growing bodies!


Top Montessori Gifts For 2 Year Olds

Here are the most loved items from this list. Click here to jump to full detailed reviews, more gift ideas, + price comparisons below!

  • Lovevery Play Kits make the perfect gift for 2 year olds that will last! Our favorites for this age range are the Helper, Free Spirit, and Investigator (in that order)
  • This train set is easily one of the coolest on the market with some great educational elements!
  • Montessori dressing boards work practical life skills, cut down on frustration for everyone, and double as a great travel toy or busy board!
  • Kid Sized Cleaning Tools which are perfect for practical life and creative play!
  • Life cycle animal figurines are perfect for a montessori lesson at home, and can be used for open-ended play or in sensory play (we use ours in kinetic sand!) and they are perfect for the montessori sensitive period of small objects!
  • Balance bikes depend concentration, build confidence, and provide the perfect challenge for 2 year olds! NOTE: We cover pikler triangles and toddler scooters in our montessori gifts for 1 year olds as those can be introduce sooner; if you don’t have one of those yet, definitely consider them too! But we think 2 years old is perfect for a balance bike! 

What is a montessori toy?

A montessori toy is typically a simple toy that encourages a deep concentration on a single skill rooted in reality and practical life skills. Colors are typically muted with a focus on natural elements.

With that said, Dr. Maria Montessori created a pedogagy, not toys and her name was never trade-marked. Thus many toys market themselves as “montessori” when they are in fact not.

What a montessori toy is NOT:

First and foremost, montessori-friendly toys are never battery powered electronic toys that offer an overstimulating experience of lights and sounds. With that said, montessori toys are also NOT expensive all wooden toys and natural materials!

In fact, often times the most montessori items today are plastic! That's right!

I saw a brand suggesting this cleaning set; and while it's beautiful, it's not functional. A true montessori approach to educational toys is rooted in the real world and would focus less on role play and more on real life use! No need to buy a wooden squirt bottle for $35, when you can give your child the real thing for $2 and they can *actually* do practical life activities alongside you! Now if you love the aesthetic and heirloom toys, that's totally ok to get wooden set, just wanted to offer some tips to help you navigate the marketing of montessori gifts today with young toddlers!

How to choose the best montessori gifts?

Montessori is a child-centered approach, meaning you ideally choose montessori-inspired toys based off your 2 year olds interests. The right toys will always capture your kids attention deeply. The ultimate goal, and best toys for toddlers, always cultivate their concentration and focus first and foremost, quickly followed by toys that encourage confidence and independence in their real life skills.

Discover our most used montessori toys for 2 to 3 years old that we've actually owned and gotten a TON of use out of! It's broken down by price point (use the table of content drop down for easy navigation!).

After this, be sure to check out Montessori Baby Toys For 0-6 months, Montessori Gift Ideas For 6 to 12 Month Olds, and my Montessori Friendly Gift Guide For 1 Year Old to 2 Year Olds!

Best Montessori Toys For 2 to 3 Year Olds

Montessori Toys Under $20

Child friendly knife

Montessori is all about introducing practical life skills for everyday life and providing young children with age and skill appropriate tools to do so.

Toddlers can start practice chopping and spreading with a child sized knife. All of these make great options depending on personal preference:

NOTE: If you prefer a nice kitchen set for toddlers, think montessori heirloom toys, then this set is gorgeous! Additionally, Lovevery offers a feeding bundle too which is more for tableware, but we get DAILY use out of!

2 and 3 piece puzzles

We LOVE these 2 and 3 piece puzzles from Learning Journey.

They feature photographs of real animals and objects and are great for teaching loads of concepts. They work fine motor skills too.

You can choose whichever puzzle based on your child's current interested. We usually stout 5 to 10 sets of puzzles for her to pull out and sort and do. I also recommend these for travel. Just toss 5-10 puzzles in a bag to take them with you!

If you already have these, then check out more of the best toddler puzzles here!

Dressing Boards

Toddlers really love being able to do things by themselves! Dressing boards are often found in montessori schools to encourage a child's development.

toddler busy board

Parents will love this great set too as it gives two year old toddlers the chance to practice the practical life skill of getting dressed, without the pressure and rush of leaving the house!

These are a great twist on the classic montessori dressing boards. You can even take these on the go in the car as a busy board of sorts. My daughter would work on the buttons, zip, and snaps for such a long time during this sensitive period.

And trust me, you'll be grateful the sooner your kid masters this!

Wooden Shape Sorter Puzzle

As your child grows, you'll want to give them more of a challenge from the basic montessori shape puzzles and we love this one!

We find the peg shape sorter with the different shapes provides just the right amount of challenge making it a great option for young 2 year olds. To encourage use of this toddler puzzle, I suggest setting it out on a montessori shelf undone with the pieces in a basket next to the wooden puzzle frame.

NOTE: there are similar options that are rectangular, those are easier than the square wooden puzzle base which we recommend as it continues to provide a challenge a little longer!

Smock

A gift parents will appreciate probably more than toddlers, but is a must have regardless. Plus this smock has pockets to carry all of their supplies and provide the sense of independence montessori classrooms encourage!

Paint Sticks

These are ready to go paint sticks in a variety of natural and bright colors that are chunky enough for small hands, travel well, and kids love them!

They also encourage working on a pencil grip, hand-eye coordination, and provide a different sensory experience than a typical paint and paint brush.

Montessori Gifts Under $50

Animal Figurines

Realistic animal figurines can be used for a ton of montessori at home activities as well as imaginary play.

You can start by using them in matching games and move on to using life cycle sets for hands on learning about a species evolution.

While many people love the brand Schleich, it is the most expensive and I found this life cycle set that we personally own and it looks exactly like the Schleich ones. The paint on mine has worn a little, but that's also consistent with the Schleich reviews I read as well.

Tooth Brushing Model

We got this for my daughter around her 2nd birthday to help with tooth brushing and it's been a total hit!

It's great for practicing tooth brushing, and negotiating with toddlers (as in, I'll brush your teeth while you brush the models!”)

As kids get older you can use the cards to teach about the different teeth too!

It is pretty well made overall (ours has dropped a ton of times and has no wear), but the screws can get a little loose, so just retightening regularly and be mindful if you have a baby around.

I also love that it comes with a tray you can use for other activities on your child's play shelf!

Timer

Toddler's love to exert their independence and say “no” to just about everything and a timer can be the perfect gift to alleviate stress for parents and give toddlers some power back.

My toddler LOVES her timer so much, she even brought it to the park with her to show her friends!

It's a simple concept to deepen their sense of the world. Set the timer to let them know how much time they have until a transition (e.g. 2 minutes until the TV goes off!). It starts to lay a foundation for time management, helps manage expectations, and keeps things running more smoothly with 2 year old children in my experience.

You can also ask a protesting toddler how much more time they need (good news: they usually only say 2 or 5 minutes at this age) and set the timer accordingly. They'll appreciate being heard, parents will appreciate skipping a fight.

Kid Sized Cleaning Tools

Montessori is all about practical life and at 2 years old you'll feel like you have a little shadow! Toddler's love to help out and exert their independence so giving them child sized cleaning tools is a great choice!

They can use them for pretend play or to help out alongside their caregivers. My daughter's favorite items are the broom, dust pan, squeegee, and squirt bottle.

Melissa + Doug make two sets I highly recommend: the dusting/sweeping stand up set, and then a squirt + squeegee under the counter set. They sell at a ton of retailers for you to choose from too:

Price check squeegee set

Sequencing Puzzle

I LOVE this set from Melissa & Doug as it combines a few things we own in a much more condensed and budget friendly set.

It comes with sequencing cards for your toddler to replicate the pattern. Then you can just use an old shoelace or waistband drawstring as a lacing string with the beads.

And the dowel set up can come in handy for a lot of at home activities with toilet paper rolls, ring tosses, and all sorts of other stuff.

Melissa & Doug Toy Keys and Cars Wooden Rescue Vehicles and Garage

My daughter loves this toy! So we don't actually own this one, but she's played with it a bunch of times at a friends and I consider it a dupe of the van in Lovevery's Free Thinker Play Kit.

It combines two things she loves and I've recommended before: lock box and cars! A surefire hit for toddlers!

It features 3 rescue cars and a garage with keys to lock and unlock them.

With that said, if you've ever owned a Melissa & Doug pretend play house like this, you know the printed paper on the plywood can wear pretty quick and their items aren't always the most durable. While the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, a few reviews I came across said the locks and corners did wear faster than expected.

Wooden Camera

Okay so this is way more Waldorf than Montessori AND may only be a hit with my toddler because of what I do for a living and her always seeing me with a camera; but I also loved toy cameras as a kid and since my daughter got this one she's been obsessed!

I had gotten the Manhattan Toy Company one but decided to return it. I didn't like that the button didn't press down and while the removable lenses are great in theory, I know we'll lose them so fast and they pop out a little too easily for my liking.

Instead I got the kiko + gg one with a working button, two neck strap options, a built in kaleidoscope lense with a yellow filter attached. 10/10 recommend it!

Under $50

Wooden Animal Matching Set

Pair this with some matching animal figurines and you have an AMAZING gift!

We have a set of wooden animal matching cards and figurines from Lovevery that my daughter LOVES and still plays with. This set also includes matching the parent and baby animal.

Of course you are paying more for a wooden set, so for the mom and baby animal matching we prefer this puzzle instead which is only around $15.

The Dough Project

2 years old is an interesting age… not quite a baby, not quite past the “let me put this in my mouth” phase either which is why we are big fans of The Dough Project.

A totally taste safe and edible play dough made from plants and non toxic ingredients!

They have a wide variety of options ranging as low as $7 to as much as $60. They sell DIY mix, packs of play dough jars, and then also themed play dough kits for the holidays, birthdays, and pretend food. My daughter personally LOVES a good play dough sensory board and these kits come complete with all the accessories you'll need to bring a play dough pizza or birthday cupcake to life!

$75 and up

Lovevery Play Kits

Lovevery's play kits are montessori and waldorf inspired and make a fantastic gift for newborns all the way up to four years old!

lovevery the helper play kit review

I've covered all things Lovevery here – including individual play kit reviews, FAQs, and Amazon dupes.

Balance Bike

For the best balance bike to grow with your child, we highly recommend the Woom. Their bikes come in 40% lighter than the average bike, making it the easiest bike to learn how to ride in our experience. They also have options to grow with your child from balance bike to pedal bike.

Most balance bikes feature a plastic wheel, but theirs uses a real tire for kids to feel the terrain their riding on. It also comes with a hand break and limited steering for kids mastering the need for speed! Lastly, parents will love their trade-in program when your toddler is ready to size up.

We suggest going from the Woom 1 balance bike straight to the Woom 3 AUTOMAGIC which has an automatic gear switch built in for kids that has been a game changer for my daughter!

Strider

A strider bike is another great option at a slightly lower price and quality, but still great for gross motor skills and brain development!

This balance bike that helps you skip the tricycle comes in two sizes. The Strider 14x does have a pedal kit, but we found it too big for our 2 year old, and then at 4 years old she outgrew it very quickly so we recommend the cheaper 12″, which has a decent resale value too!

Load & Go Wood Train Set

This train set is easily one of the coolest on the market with some great educational elements.

Kids can load up the wood train cars with cargo at the push of a button, then color sort the at various wood train stops along the way. 

The train track itself is a puzzle and it works a ton of fine motor and cognitive skills!

Homer + Tablet

I know montessori is all about no technology and hands on learning, but we have to keep in mind she developed this theory in the early 1900s.

Today, hands on learning also includes learning how to use technology. And while I'm not promoting light up push button toys, I do think the occasional use of learning apps and a tablet can be great for kids and for parents sanity.

The HOMER app is my daughter's absolute favorite learning app! They have a Black Friday deal right now too where you can get 35% Off HOMER's Annual Plan + Contixo V10 Kids Tablet Bundle through 11/28 when you click here!

Easel

An easel is a great addition to any household and will grow with your toddler if you pick the right one!

Easels come in a huge range of prices and styles so we rounded up thee best toddler easels here for you!

With that said we want to bring your attention to a few:

  • The Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel with Paper Roll is a fan favorite for good reason — it offers longevity, comes with a magnetic whiteboard, black chalkboard, and has built-in storage for the paper roll on top and paint pots with holders below all at a moderate price point.
  • For small space the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel is the perfect choice. It's affordable and easy to storeaway, travel with, and use!
  • The KiwiCo Marble Run + Art Easel offers a truly unique experience for old toddlers with one side featuring a double sided chalkboard and dry erase panel and the other side featured a marble run (pieces included). The height is adjustable and this is a favorite in our house with our kids and friends up to 12 years old!

Kitchen Tower / Weaning Table Converter

No secret, I think a toddler tower is one of the best gifts for toddlers!

We recently got this one that converts to a weaning table and it even comes with a child size wooden knife (another gift on this list).

My daughter has been OBSESSED with having her own little table/bench set up and it's a smaller footprint than our previous kitchen tower.

I have an entire buying guide on choosing the right kitchen learning tower here – we personally got a second one because we get SO much use out of the first, and wanted something for the bathroom too.

More Montessori Gift Lists

I've shared the Best Montessori Baby Toys For 0-6 months with tons of gift ideas that grow with your baby through 6-9 months and 9-12 months and some even beyond that! Plus my favorite montessori toys for 6 to 12 month olds here!

But one of my absolute favorite gift guides is my montessori gifts 1 to 2 year olds! It covers items that really act as a cornerstone to any montessori home, and will last for YEARS! Many of the great gift ideas in there can even be introduced as early as 10 months old, like a toddler kitchen helper.

Originally published 11/8/21; Updated 10/30/23

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