Montessori Toys vs. Montessori Materials: What's the Difference?

Montessori Toys vs. Montessori Materials: What's the Difference?

In the world of Montessori, there are two key distinctions between toys and materials. Toys are meant to be played with by a child in an unstructured way- they can engage in imaginative play or use them for dramatic play. Materials on the other hand, are to be used purposefully and deliberately.

Materials are things that you can use to teach children. They are different than toys because they are not meant for playing with, but rather for learning. Montessori materials help children develop skills by working with them in a hands-on way.

While it's true that many toys do have educational purposes such as building motor skills or encouraging creativity through play, these are still considered toys. At the same time, Montessori materials can have some of these same features, it's not necessarily their intent.

As you can see there is a clear difference between Montessori toys vs materials. While both play an important role in the classroom environment, they are used for different purposes.

You will often see the terms toys and materials interchangeably, these are not materials designed by Maria Montessori but rather toys that are typically in line with the Montessori philosophy in the home environment. 

Outside of a formal classroom environment, we tend to think the distinction is less relevant. Both Montessori materials and Montessori toys can have their place, but at at the end of the day it's about what experiences you want to provide your children.

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