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The Best Gifts for a Montessori Tots

What do you get an infant who is turning 12 months old? A tot who is an explorer on the go who thinks with his feet? An experimenter who shows relentless curiosity? Montessori materials and activities of course! Here is our gift guide for one-year-olds, Montessori style!

One-year-olds are in the a sensory-motor stage of development. They will spend 80% of their time interacting with their physical environment. They want to listen to, look into, and manipulate everything.

They will touch, feel, mouth, hold, drop, throw, shake, bang, taste, smell, and listen to every item they can get their hands on; as well as crawl, cruise, toddle, walk, climb, and run (large motor movements). This is how the 12-month-old learns, through action, by doing.


Between 12 and 15 months, fine motor skills are still very much a challenge. (Fine motor skills include manipulating the hands and the fingers to do a puzzle.) Your young tot will utilize control over his arms first, then his hands, and lastly his fingers. Therefore, keep toys that require fine motor skills to a minimum because they will easily frustrate your child. He may have the cognitive ability and understanding, but he still has to practice the fine motor skills to achieve his goals, and this will take several more months. 

For example, by age fifteen months your child knows what a spoon is for, but he has to practice the skill of self feeding and spooning to master it by 18-24 months. In the meantime, you can help your child with a few fine motor activities by guiding his hand, rather than doing it for him.

Give him large unstructured toys he can explore and manipulate, like a train, a boat, a drum, a ball, a truck, a car, and a keyboard: toys he can manipulate without frustration, feelings of failure, or dependence on an adult. He will love emptying containers, cabinets, drawers, and toys chests, but he will show little interest in putting anything back. So keep toys and objects to a minimum, rotate them every two weeks or so, and expect to put his things back in order for him, asking for his help but not expecting it. He is like a little hurricane, rushing in and out, with you left there to pick up the pieces.

The 12-month-old wants to feel power and control over the environment. The parent can help by minimizing interruption and control of her one-year-old by controlling the environment instead, including the toys, objects, household items, and activities in the environment. Lastly, allow your child to explore a cabinet, a drawer, a low shelf, a large basket, the paper recycling bag, and safe household items.

We hope you find new and exciting things on our gift guide for your little one. We had so much fun putting this list together and we're sure these gifts will have your little one playing all day. 

If you are looking for other fabulous gift guides please visit The Ultimate Natural Gift Guide and Top Toys for the Natural Child. Have fun shopping.

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