If you’re still looking for Montessori-friendly gift ideas for your children for this holiday season, here are some of the toys and materials, board games, and books on our family’s wish lists this year.
Most of these items will be suitable for preschoolers through early elementary ages. For reference sake, my youngest will be a newly turned 3-year-old at Christmas and our oldest will be turning 6 a few months later. I’ve combined their wish lists for the sake of ease, but please do note there is a large developmental gap between ages 3 and 6.
In an effort to be intentional with our gift giving, in our home we tend to follow the 4-gift rule and then add a board game or some other family activity-type gift. If you’ve yet to try the 4-gift rule, I can’t recommend it enough. You can always change up the categories to suit your family’s individual needs.
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First up, here are some of the toys and materials on our children’s wish lists this year.
TOYS & MATERIALS
ONE // STABILO Woody 3-in-1 Colored Pencils – A perfect art medium for a child who loves to create. These pencils can be used as wax crayons, watercolor pencils, or to decorate glass windows.
TWO // Cash Box – A cute little treasure box for kids. Choose between either a combination lock or one with a key.
THREE // Grimm’s Large Rainbow – An open-ended toy that can be used in a myriad of ways. Perfect for the imaginative builder or STEM-loving kids.
FOUR // Grimm’s Rainbow Matryoshka Nesting Dolls – If your child is testing out the enveloping schema, these nesting dolls would make a wonderful gift.
FIVE // WikkiStix – An open-ended art medium that would make a perfect accompaniment to a rainy day tea time.
SIX // Folkmanis Woodland Finger Puppet Set – Another toy that fulfills the enveloping schema for toddlers or can be used as a creative storytelling prop for older siblings.
SEVEN // Woodland Footprint Stones – Usable indoors or out, these will be a great material to incorporate with play-dough or in the mud outdoors. And when playtime is finished, I know my kids will love scrubbing and washing them clean afterwards.
EIGHT // Schleich Adventure Tree House – An alternative small world play item to the more traditional dollhouse or barn, I plan on also incorporating this into the language games we play at home. More on that in a later post!
NINE // Bruder Jeep Wrangler with Horse Trailer – If I’ve measured correctly, the Schleich figurines should be compatible with Bruder vehicles. The addition of the horse trailer extends schema play!
TEN // Larsen Puzzles – I’m a big fan of Larsen’s puzzles because not only are they are educational and often feature realistic images, but they’re super easy to store when not in use since they are all self-contained in a tray. My 5-year-old is currently loving the Human Body puzzle, and we also enjoy these ones as a supplement to nature study.
ELEVEN // Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures – These are compatible with LEGO and should be well-received by any elementary-age STEM-loving kids.
TWELVE // Cat’s Cradle Book Kit – A great quiet-time or travel activity book that continues to develop fine motor skills for lower elementary students.
THIRTEEN // Wooden Bead Weaving Loom – My oldest has been showing an interest in jewelry for the past 6 months, so for her birthday she’ll be receiving this loom that’ll allow her to make her own jewelry as well as gifts for others. I believe fostering a love of handicrafts is so important for young children.
FOURTEEN // Wood Cross-Stitch Jewelry Craft Kit – A simple craft kit that’s on the wish list for my jewelry-loving child. I like that these could also be used as gift tags or as Christmas tree ornaments. It would be a wonderful activity to do together during the month of December.
FIFTEEN // Ben Franklin Toys Doctor/Biology Kit – I’m not completely sold on the price, but I know this kit would be a hit with my oldest who loves learning about the human body. Pair it with a first aid bag and Maris Wicks’ absolutely brilliant book Human Body Theatre: A Non-Fiction Revue to make a great gift basket for a budding physician. I’d definitely try to catch it on sale, though.
SIXTEEN // AmScope Microscope – We hope this microscope will last us throughout our homeschooling years. Don’t forget to also order a prepared microscope slide set and The World of the Microscope: A Practical Introduction with Projects and Activities.
SEVENTEEN // Creative LEGO Brick Set – With its large selection of versatile building blocks, this set by LEGO Education makes a great entry to the world of LEGO for children ages 5 and older. Add on the LEGO Classic Bricks and Gears Building Kit to extend your child’s creations.
EIGHTEEN // Kaden Marble Run – My oldest has been requesting a marble run for the past 3 years now, and this one looks absolutely wonderful! It’s open-ended, expandable, and allows children to play around with both 2D and 3D designs. Since each set comes in its own individual compartment tray, it’s also super simple to store when not in use. Plus, arranging all the blocks to fit neatly back into the tray is a spatial reasoning puzzle that my youngest should enjoy for awhile longer. The only downside is it’s not yet widely available, especially here in the United States. I ended up ordering ours from One Hundred Toys, a toy shop based in the United Kingdom. The most unexpected surprise? It arrived on our doorstep only 30 hours after I placed the order!! Now to try to resist the temptation to play with it before gifting it to our children for Christmas! Eeek!!
ONE // Gathre Apron – Woops! It looks like this is no longer available. However, any child-size apron that a child can put on independently will work. Pair it with a child-friendly cookbook for a perfect culinary gift basket for your favorite little baker!
TWO // Ruffled Individual Pie Dish – My oldest requested her own small pie dish this year, and I think these ruffled ones are so cute and timelessly classic.
THREE // Windsor & Newton Watercolor Pocket Box – If you’re in need of watercolor paints for your older kids, this set looks like it’ll be easy to include on nature outings.
FOUR // Strathmore Watercolor Journal – Both my children love having their own special journals for their artwork, and I’m a fan of Strathmore’s watercolor paper.
FIVE // Bagno Milano Organic Bathrobe for Kids – Each of my girls will be receiving their own bathrobe this Christmas. I imagine they’ll lounge around in them after their baths while we go ahead and read a few books before brushing teeth and saying goodnight as part of our bedtime routine.
SIX // Organic Cotton Hanging Crow’s Nest – I’d love to be able to hang a swing in our home for our child who seeks vestibular activities. I like this one because it’s made from organic cotton and it’s completely neutral. But I know my kids would probably prefer something like this a bit more.
SEVEN // DIY Jr. My First Toolset – We’ve slowly pieced together a child-size tool kit for our kids, but if you’re looking for one already assembled, this one seems to have great reviews.
EIGHT // Fjallraven Kanken Mini Classic Backpack – A small backpack available in a variety of colors that can accompany your child on nature walks, overnight trips at the grandparents’ house, day trips around town, or to sporting practices.
NINE // Wooden Bow and Arrows – Available in both small and large size, these bows and arrows should be popular among most young children.
TEN // Springee Balance Beam – Both my kids enjoy using this balance beam. It’s usually an integral part of the many obstacle courses they set up in our basement. And I really like that it can be folded and slid underneath our couch when not in use.
ELEVEN // Flying Turtle Sit-Skate Turtle – Kids use their arms to power this scooter. If you have access to a nice sidewalk, these should be lots of fun.
TWELVE // Wobble Cushion – Kids can use these as cushions to sit on or as make-believe stones to jump on. They’re supposedly wonderful for sensory-seeking children.
THIRTEEN // Gym Dandy Spinning Teeter Totter – Both my kids would love this spinning teeter totter. I’m a little concerned about the negative reviews saying the seats do not wishstand the elements, but if you could find a way to protect them I think this would be a great gift for siblings close in age.
FOURTEEN // Berlin Flyer Sport Wagon – My kids have enjoyed playing with our neighbors’ wagons all summer long, so I’ve placed this one on their wish list. I like that it’s made in the United States, features no-tip steering, and has nice, thick tires.
The only thing not included in the above list is the Nugget couch, which my kids have enjoyed playing with daily for the past 10 months. I would recommend them to any family with young children if you have the space available. I didn’t include them in the official list because, unfortunately, they’re sold out for this Christmas season due to higher than anticipated demand.
BOARD GAMES FOR KIDS
Board games are a favorite here. So much so that my oldest daughter even requested we include a board game on our daily riches list for homeschooling! Here are some of the ones atop our list this year.
ONE // Max – Here’s a cooperative game that both my children should be able to play together and enjoy for several years. You can read more about it here.
TWO // Suspend – I think this is a great game to work on encouraging careful, intentional movements with your children. Not to mention it looks like a super fun game to play whenever you have a few minutes of downtime.
THREE // Dominoes – I remember playing Dominoes with my grandmother for years and years. Before purchasing, see if you can find a family member who is no longer using their set and suggest they gift it to your children to enjoy.
FOUR // Tiny Polka Dot – These cards make math games super easy to incorporate with your young children at home. We already own these, but they’re a wonderful small gift for children ages 3-7.
FIVE // Tumi Ishi Blocks – If you have a child who enjoys stacking, you can easily use these Tumi Ishi blocks to play a stacking game with your child. It’d be a great ‘first’ game for older toddlers to encourage turn-taking.
SIX // The Yoga Garden Game – Playing this game would be a simple way to introduce a little yoga into your daily routine with your children.
SEVEN // Connect Four – I grew up playing this game with my dad. I personally prefer the wooden one to the plastic one. Younger kids should enjoy posting all the chips into the frame, and older siblings can begin to learn the strategy behind the game.
EIGHT // Flower Families: A Go Fish Game – A perfect accompaniment to nature study. My oldest daughter will be receiving this game in her Christmas stocking this year.
NINE // Bugs in the Kitchen – I’m not sure how I’ll be able to keep my cat away from this game, but I think both my kids would have an entertaining time playing it!
TEN // Ticket to Ride: First Journey – A simplified version of the original Ticket to Ride series that allows children as young as five or six to join in on the fun.
ELEVEN // Catan Junior – Here’s another modified version of a popular game that’s designed to allow kids as young as five to play. This one has received a ton of positive reviews on Amazon.
TWELVE // Money Bags – An easy way to introduce money recognition and counting to your children. I think it’s best for ages 5-8.
THIRTEEN // Race to the Treasure – Both my kids love to search for treasure so this game should be a hit. The ogre isn’t exactly Montessori-friendly for children in the first plane of development, so if you’re strict on excluding all fantasy elements in your home maybe hold off on this game until your kids are a bit older.
As with other toys and materials, the suggested age range for board games varies widely depending upon each individual child. Simply use your discretion on when you believe your children will be ready for these.
BOOKS FOR KIDS
Ah, books! We love them! Here are the ones that made the list this year.
ONE // Snow in the Garden: A First Book of Christmas by Shirley Hughes – We adore books written by Shirley Hughes. This one includes poems, stories, recipes, and activities for children to do around Christmas time.
TWO // The Billy and Blaze Collection – Both my girls enjoy the Billy and Blaze books. They’re a great pre-cursor to chapter books for younger kids and independent reads for early elementary students.
THREE // A Little House Picture Book Treasury – Here’s another popular collection of stories with my children. We’ve been borrowing the books from our library for years. My youngest will receive this treasury for her birthday this year.
FOUR // Nursery Rhymes for Mother Nature – Rhymes are wonderful for language development and early literacy. I’ve seen this book (and others by the same author) suggested in several Facebook groups, and I can’t wait to see it in person!
FIVE // The Bumper Book of Nature – A great starter book to get yourself and your little ones outside throughout the year. It’s filled with games, activities, and projects for every season as well as wonderful illustrations!
SIX // My Little Golden Book about Balto – I always try to include a few ‘My Little Golden Books’ on the kids’ wish lists since they’re so affordable. Both my kids love reading about Balto, so I’d like to add this one to our home library. Unfortunately, it’s not scheduled for release until Christmas Eve.
SEVEN // My Big Wimmelbooks – I love Wimmelbooks for language development in toddlers and preschoolers, and they also make a great quiet time and travel activity.
EIGHT // Wonderful Houses Around the World – We’ve borrowed this book from our library several times, and I simply adore it. My kids love pouring over the illustrations.
NINE // Molly of Denali ‘I Can Read’ books – Both my kids love the Molly of Denali podcast, so I’m sure these would be a hit!
TEN // Dick and Jane – My daughter enjoys reading the Dick and Jane books alongside me. I think they’re great for reading fluency and learning sight words.
ELEVEN // Amazing Visual Math – My oldest loves math and she’s also a very visual and kinesthetic learning, so I know she’s going to enjoy this book.
TWELVE // My First Book of Knots – A perfect gift for kindergarten and early elementary students that results in a very practical skill. The illustrations are wonderful.
THIRTEEN // The Magic Ukulele – While this book may have elements of fantasy in it and not be entirely Montessori-friendly for children in the first plane of development, it comes with an audio CD as well as color chord charts and supposedly easy-to-learn songs so I think it’d make a wonderful gift for a child who already has a ukulele or gift it alongside one. My girls love their Kala ukulele they received a few years ago.
FOURTEEN // Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone – If you have older kids who have loved Wimmelbooks, this book should be a hit. Search for clues, solve challenges, and work your way through 15 mazes to solve the mystery.
FIFTEEN // The Cultured Chef: An International Cookbook for Kids – I’m pretty sure this will be our family gift under the Christmas tree this year. While I’ve yet to see it in person, I’ve read many wonderful reviews and can’t wait to receive it in the mail so I can peruse it in more depth.
SIXTEEN // Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story: Fifteen Stories and Recipes for Children – Here’s what looks like a fun cookbook to gift early elementary kids. Each recipe is accompanied by an adaptation of a fairy tale.
SEVENTEEN // Human Body Theatre: A Non-Fiction Revue – This has been the single most popular book in our house for the past 6-8 months it seems, and I’m still not tired of reading it. It’s fun, humorous, and educational. I’d recommend this book to any kid age 5 and up who’s interested in how the human body works.
EIGHTEEN // Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson – We’ve followed Maria Montessori’s recommendation to incorporate as much realistic fiction as possible for children in the first plane of development, which means neither of my daughters is very familiar with fairy tales. My oldest will be turning 6 soon and is entering the second plane of development, so I’ve decided to purchase this book by Scott Gustafson for her birthday. I know she’ll adore the wonderful illustrations.
I like to include fun and practical items in our children’s stockings. Here are some ideas.
ONE // Stories in Music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra – My youngest loves to select a CD to listen to when she’s working in our schoolroom. I think she’ll enjoy both of these Stories in Music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
TWO // Children’s Pentatonic Flute – This is definitely a splurge stocking stuffer for our kids this year, but wooden flute music will be referenced in several of the books we’re reading this school year and next. Plus, I try my best to include a music-related gift every Christmas. In years’ past we’ve gifted our children a drum, a harmonica, a Woodstock Chimes pipedream, a ukulele, and a karaoke microphone, and they’ve all been well-loved and played regularly.
THREE // Rainbow Flip-Over Top – A spinning top with a most unexpected surprise!
FOUR // Silicone Straws – We use reusable stainless steel straws at home, but I love these silicone ones that include a small travel case for outings. Since my kids are receiving backpacks this year, it’ll be easy to keep these readily available for when we’re out and about.
FIVE // Retevis Walkie-Talkies – My children received these last year, and they pull them out at least once a week to talk to each around around the house. I imagine they’ll begin to use them outside soon. Each time they play with them the conversation is usually filled with giggles.
SIX // Kitpas Bath Crayons – I purchased a set of these to add another bathtime activity for the upcoming winter months. My youngest really enjoys drawing large-scale drawing on our windows, so I think she’ll love using these too.
SEVEN // Child’s Nailbrush – A perfect little addition to your children’s self-care shelf in the bathroom — especially if they tend to dig in the mud every time they go outside.
EIGHT // Jacks – A classic game that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
NINE // Fandex Family Field Guides – Our youngest is receiving the Bird fandex this year as she’s become really interested in birdwatching lately. I am also considering the tree fandex for homeschool purposes.
TEN // Stockmar Modeling Beeswax – You can either choose to purchase the larger set or pick up a couple of these individual sheets of modeling beeswax. I’ve read some Waldorf schools introduce the natural colored beeswax first so children can focus solely on form in the beginning, and then the additional colors are introduced later.
ELEVEN // Extra Large Hackey Sack – Children can either use these to begin playing footbag, or you can grab a set of three and introduce juggling. Toddlers will also enjoy using them to throw, catch, and roll.
TWELVE // Wooden Knitting Fork – My oldest will be receiving a knitting fork in her Christmas stocking as an additional handicraft activity for the new year. Knitting has a myriad of benefits, and I hope to learn alongside my children in the coming years.
THIRTEEN // Tattoos – We don’t normally do removable tattoos, so I know these will be a hit when my children receive them this year.
FOURTEEN // Go Find It scavenger hunt game – This little game looks like an amazing way to encourage children to use their senses and engage their creativity at the same time. I think it’ll be great for language development in toddlers and preschoolers and can be used to playfully introduce adjectives to kindergarten and early elementary students.
FIFTEEN // Strathmore Watercolor Postcards – These are a wonderful way to encourage young children to keep in touch with family members and send thank you notes in the mail.
SIXTEEN // Rainbow Skytop Whirlygig – My husband enjoyed playing with a whirlygig when he was younger. I think this one is beautiful.
GIFTS FOR MOM
And I figured I’d share some of the things on my own personal wish list this year in case you’re looking for some inspiration for your own.
ONE // Minus 33 Merino Wool Glove Liner – I freeze easily. With one of our priorities being outdoor time next year, I need to make sure I’m properly outfitted as well.
TWO // Minus 33 Merino Wool Beanie – Same as above. I love merino wool for keeping warm.
THREE // Stovetop Popcorn Popper – I love the nostalgia associated with popping popcorn on the stovetop. This is at the top of my wish list so we can enjoy freshly popped popcorn on our family movie nights.
FOUR // Movie Night Popcorn Kit – This kit makes it easy to experiment with a few different popcorn flavors.
FIVE // Popcorn Bowls – While any old bowl would work, I think these ones from Crate & Barrel are adorable. Pair them with the popcorn kit above for an easy gift basket for pretty much anyone.
SIX // Ann Clark Cookie Cutters – An entire year’s worth of seasonal cookie cutters that’ll be great to use with your children on baking day.
SEVEN // Montessori for a Better World by Aline D. Wolf – From the description this book looks wonderful! It’s one of the books on my list to read in the new year.
EIGHT // Clover Pen Style Needle Felting Tool – This needle felting tool looks like the best child-friendly option that I could find.
NINE // Premium Needle Felting Kit for Beginners – I hope to begin needle felting with my children this year as one of our handicrafts. This kit looks like it’s a nice way to easily begin some simple projects.
TEN // Royal & Langnickel Gouache Paint – A new art medium for nature journaling.
ELEVEN // Merge Chip and Dip Set – A special addition to the table for afternoon snack and tea time.
TWELVE // Stories We Shared: A Family Book Journal – A great way to document your family’s most beloved readalouds throughout the years.
THIRTEEN // Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year – I hope to use this book for our main poetry selection next year.
FOURTEEN // Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter – We’ll be studying life science in the spring as well as planting our first garden. I love the idea of introducing vermicomposting to children.
FIFTEEN // Gathre Tablecloth – Gathre receives rave reviews about how great their products are. I don’t personally own any of their mats yet, but I’d love to have this tablecloth for arts and craft time and, if it can serve double duty, as a picnic blanket outside.
SIXTEEN // Household Essentials Wooden Clothes Drying Rack – What can I say? We need a drying rack, and I love the look of this one.
Well, that’s about everything spread among the lists for our family. Except my husband. If you’re interested in seeing what’s included on his list, I’d be happy to share. Just leave me a comment below, and I’ll work on getting it posted.
If you’re looking for additional gift ideas, be sure to check out 100+ Fun and Practical Gifts for Small Children or visit Shop Our Schoolhouse to see some of the educational materials we use in our Montessori-inspired home.