Montessori Toys vs. Traditional Toys: Understanding the Difference

Many parents wonder if Montessori toys are worth it, usually comparing them to traditional toys. But what’s the big difference anyway?

Well, the big difference is found in the fundamentals on which these two types of toys are built. For example, Montessori toys are made to help children develop certain skills, like fine motor skills. On the other hand, traditional toys are built merely for children to have fun, without any educational purpose.

Two toddlers playing with wooden Montessori stacking blocks.

But let’s not rush into the comparison of these two types. It’s important to understand both sides of the story first.

In that light, let’s see the science behind Montessori and traditional toys.

Montessori Toys - Simple and Fun

Montessori toys, inspired by the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori, take a less-is-more approach. These toys are specially created to encourage hands-on exploration, independence, and natural skill development in children.

This is showcased through simplicity and the overall design of Montessori toys that are made to engage children in purposeful play.

What Qualifies as a Montessori Toy?

The Montessori toys are not just a thing to play with; they’re specially designed tools that our children use to learn and develop.

Multicolor Montessori wooden shape toy.

Picture wooden puzzles that challenge little minds, promoting problem-solving and awareness of space. Then, there are practical life activities like child-sized brooms or watering cans, encouraging independence and responsibility from an early age.

These toys often ditch the flashy lights for simplicity, using natural materials to connect children with the world around them. It's a hands-on approach to play, where each toy has a purpose.

Characteristics of Montessori Toys

So, what are Montessori toys? Compared to traditional toys, Montessori toys stand out for their unique characteristics:

  • Simplicity: Montessori toys are usually simple in design, removing unnecessary and flashy parts that create distractions. This simplicity encourages focus and allows the child's imagination to take the wheel.

  • Natural materials: Wood, fabric, and other natural materials are the core of every Montessori toy. This ensures a sensory-rich experience and also connects children to the environment in a way.

  • Purposeful design: Each Montessori toy is crafted with a specific developmental goal in mind. For example, shape-sorting puzzles are great for cognitive development and problem-solving skills.

  • Hands-on learning: Montessori education and toys focus more on learning through hands-on experiences. The real deal here is in an interactive play that engages a child's senses and invites them to explore.

  • Open-ended play: Many Montessori toys are intentionally open-ended, allowing children to explore and use their creativity, enhancing the value of open-ended play.

So, with that said, it’s clear that Montessori toys focus more on development and education than just fun and play. 

Cute wooden rainbow, car, and stacking Montessori toys.

Traditional Toys

Traditional toys are classic toys that our children play with. These toys come in different sizes and shapes, colors, and textures. Simply put, these are the toys that you’ll find in any toy store. One good example of a traditional toy is a truck or an airplane with sound effects and dazzling lights.

Montessori classroom.

When it comes to the overall design, traditional toys are much more attractive as they follow the ‘’the more, the merrier’’ approach. This means that the more features and colors are present in a toy, the better the toy is. But what’s the purpose behind that?

We know that children prefer playing with toys that are not limiting them to a single activity. One would say that traditional toys are specially designed to catch the eye of children and parents. So, in a way, they are only focusing on appeal, attractiveness, and overall enjoyment of play, putting education and hands-on learning aside.

Characteristics of Traditional Toys

Since there are plenty of toys out there, most of them are known for:

  • Wide variety of materials and designs: These toys come in all sorts of materials, from wooden blocks to metal cars, offering a bunch of choices. Fun and entertainment are the key principles on which these toys are built.

  • Often driven by popular culture and trends: Traditional toys get their cool factor from what's popular at the time. Think action figures of superheroes or board games that match the latest trends in the world.

  • May have specific entertainment value: Unlike educational toys, traditional ones are here to bring joy. So, no matter if your child is playing with a teddy bear or a robot transformer, having fun is paramount.
Plastic red RC Car with a battery powered controller.

Pros and Cons of Montessori and Traditional Toys

Before we get to review some examples, let’s first look at the most noticeable benefits of both Montessori and traditional toys.


Montessori Toys

  • Provide education through joyful play

  • Ensure cognitive development

  • Promote independence

  • Great for practicing fine and gross motor skills

  • Durable and made from safe materials

Traditional Toys

  • Provide fun and entertainment

  • Usually focused on popular trends

  • Good for passing time


  • Might be a bit too focused on education

  • Lack of intentional educational design

  • Made from all sorts of materials, including toxic plastic

Examples and Stories of Montessori Toys

Montessori toys are excelling in the field of learning and overall development. Therefore, many parents are choosing them instead of traditional toys. Let’s review some of the best examples of Montessori toys:

Montessori Happy Puzzles

Montessori Happy Puzzles (6 Pack).

Meet the Montessori Happy Puzzles – your child’s friend in the world of play. These wooden puzzles are not just ordinary; they're designed to transform playtime into learning and education. Here's a closer look at why Montessori Happy Puzzles are a good choice for your kid:

  • Focus-friendly fun: Did you know kids can focus 2-5 minutes times their age? Well, Montessori Happy Puzzles make every minute count, as they are great for improving your child's attention span. They turn play into a cool challenge, like putting together a puzzle with a stop-motion show.

  • Patience teachers: These puzzles are like patience teachers, making children use their brains to get the result. While the world wants everything fast, Montessori Happy Puzzles teaches kids to wait and solve problems.

  • Challenges: How to teach your kid to accept challenges. Easy - with Montessori Happy Puzzles. They're not too easy, not too hard, just the right amount of fun. That's the secret to keeping kids interested and excited to play more.

  • Skills improvement: From moving fingers to remembering things and solving problems, Montessori Happy Puzzles is promoting all that.

Montessori Cleaning Set

Montessori Cleaning Set.

Discover the magic of the Montessori Cleaning Set - the perfect toy that transforms tidying up into an adventure. Here's why this set is one of the best toys for your toddler or preschooler:

  • Responsibility in play: This toy teaches your kid responsibility through play. Montessori toys aim to nurture confidence and independence. And with this set, kids learn responsibility while having a blast.

  • Habits: Cleaning becomes a habit, thanks to this Montessori set. Your child will unknowingly develop habits that can only help them later in life.

  • Improving skills: Improves fine and gross motor skills. From sweeping to mopping, each move enhances those little hands and coordination.

  • Problem-solving play: Who knew cleaning could be a puzzle? The Montessori Cleaning Set turns every spill and mess into a problem-solving game. It's not just about cleaning up; it's about figuring out the best way to do it!

In a world where screens and video games are stealing the show, the Montessori Happy Puzzles and the Montessori Cleaning Set are a great escape. Consider these toys for your child, and you’ll shortly see the benefits that come with the playtime. 


As we go through the world of toys and play options for our children, it’s easy to see that Montessori toys stand out. These toys are made to teach your kids to use their skills and minds, not just lose themselves in purposeless play to spend time.

Now, we reviewed the Montessori Happy Puzzles, which are great toys, but you are free to explore other options. Start here, start with us!

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