Montessori toys are an educational method using a holistic approach to educating young children about their own development and the world around them.
Toys are a vital part of a child’s learning process, as they offer sensory experiences that would not be offered through tests and strict classes.
Montessori toys allow children to explore science, art, music, nature, and themselves through educational play - whether this is in a classroom or at home.
The educational world is a battlefield of competition, with curriculums developing faster than the children are, and it almost feels like a child needs to learn how to read and write by the time they are 1 years old.
The holistic Montessori approach has been studied and proved to be an effective method to help children develop their independence, self-confidence, and happiness - all vital traits that need to be carried throughout the rest of their lives.
We have found the 5 best montessori toys for 4 year old children, along with a handy buyers’ guide and FAQ for any unanswered questions.
In a rush?
Our top pick is the Montessori Screwdriver Board and Hammer Peg Game. This set is ideal for kids who need something productive and fun to do instead of staring at a screen.
Designed by a Montessori teacher, this set encourages children to screw, turn, and experiment with different shapes and feelings.
This promotes the improvement of motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as the child learns practical skills.
OUR TOP PICK
This Montessori screwdriver and hammer set is an ideal toy for a 4 year old. This game features multiple uses, including a board with screws to tighten and a block with different compartments filled with clay for hammering nails.
The screwdriver board was designed by a Montessori teacher and works to help children understand the difference between loose and tight, left and right, and how tools work.
It comes with a wrench, screwdriver, and an allen key. This is perfect for improving hand-eye coordination and practical skills.
The hammer peg board comes with 10 wooden pegs and a wooden hammer and 2 packs of clay, and the idea is for children to hammer the pegs into the clay.
This is beneficial for helping the child understand the feel of a loose peg versus a secure peg, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills. This is sure to be addictive, fun, and promotes learning.
- All wooden items (except for screwdriver tools) for safety
- Designed by a Montessori teacher
- Comes with all of the necessary accessories
- Good for motor skills and hand-eye coordination
- Whilst there are compartments for the tools and pegs, these could easily get lost
This Montessori game is perfect for involving nature. The wooden carrot toy part of the set is designed to help children to understand how shapes work, hand-eye coordination, and where their food is coming from.
The act of them pulling out wooden carrots from the “ground” works to promote the understanding of what their actions mean - for example, they can only slot and pull out the carrots in one way according to the shape.
The corners of the box are rounded and the paint is non-toxic for safety.
This set comes with an additional worm catcher toy, that features the same pulling and slotting features as the wooden carrot toy.
This comes with 5 wooden colorful worms and a stick, both of which are magnetic to pull out the worms from the wooden box.
This is great for hand-eye coordination, helping children understand how magnets work, and helps the child exercise their hands and wrists.
- Involves nature
- Safe toys with non-toxic paint and rounded boxes
- Additional worm catcher toy
- Promote hand-eye coordination and motor skills
- Only 5 worms included as opposed to those pictured
Another 2-in-1 product, this cylinder Block set comes with 2 games with multiple functions.
The first is a simple wooden cylinder block game, with 4 different blocks with cylinders that come in different shapes and sizes.
Some cylinders are longer, some are thicker, some are shorter and some are slimmer. This is to help shape recognition, which works to improve hand-eye coordination.
This can be a fun puzzle game, where the cylinder blocks can be mixed up and the child has to figure out which ones go where.
The second game features colorful cylinder blocks and cards. The cards feature different patterns and colors that are meant to be mimicked by the colorful cylinder blocks.
This is to improve color and shape recognition as well as hand-eye coordination. Some blocks have to be stacked on top of one another, which helps to improve balancing skills.
This set is high quality, made with non-toxic paints and curved edges to prevent scratches or injury.
- Shape and color recognition
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- 2 games in 1 set
- Safe objects
- You will need a box or case for the cylinder colorful blocks as they may get lost
This CozyBomB number puzzle is ideal for children who are learning to count.
This basic maths puzzle works to improve counting in order to number 10, and also allows children to take away numbers to find bigger numbers - for example, ask them to make the number 23.
Not only does this puzzle board feature numbers, but it has various different shapes and sizes of pieces to help children learn color, sequence, sorting, and size.
This is really beneficial for hand-eye coordination and motor skills, as well as helping them to understand how shapes and sizes work.
The colors are also very pleasing to children, and this set comes in various color designs too. The wooden puzzle is made of 100% natural wood and the paint is non-toxic.
- Puzzle pieces include numbers to encourage counting and sequences
- Pieces come in different shapes and sizes to encourage hand-eye coordination
- Helps to improve color recognition
- Small parts are included so parental guidance is necessary
The final product on our list is the LIKEE wooden jigsaw puzzle, featuring 36 different wooden pieces to create a variety of shapes.
This set comes with 60 different cards that show a simple design for a child to replicate with the puzzle pieces, ranging from animals to vehicles.
This is ideal for problem-solving, observation, color and shape recognition, and hand-eye coordination, as this puzzle encourages children to experiment with different shapes and colors to create a design or pattern.
This is an interesting way of making normal arts and crafts more interesting, as not only is it fun and potentially addictive, but it improves so many of their skills without them even realising.
Over time, some children may become experts and will remember which pieces are made for each pattern - so it improves their memory too.
You could even make it more challenging by showing them a card pattern for 10-20 seconds and see if they can remember and replicate the general pattern.
- Highly entertaining
- Logic building and encourages memory building, observation, and hand-eye coordination
- Range of patterns and shapes
- No inventory list, so pieces may get lost
Best Montessori Toys for 4 Year Olds Buying Guide
The Montessori Method
The Montessori teaching method is a holistic and sensory approach to education by working alongside children creatively.
Developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori, her work has been regarded and one of the most influential aspects of Early Years teaching.
By encouraging children to play with whatever toys they liked, as long as they treat the toys with respect and put them back properly, she proved that children developed faster and better due to their increase in happiness and self-confidence.
Whilst some may regard this as playtime and not learning, children actually benefit from a relaxed and creative environment that is secretly cleverly structured to improve their developmental skills.
As children develop in age, their playing styles change. Younger children tend to play by themselves, and then gradually start to play with other children as they grow older.
Montessori classrooms are intentionally designed to promote confidence in both solo and group activities.
The holistic philosophy meant that Montessori trusted that children were already whole and could work and play alongside adults, rather than moulding a child into something they may not be.
The developmental skills that are targeted include:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Motor skills
- Color and shape recognition
- Observation and logic
- Traits such as patience, kindness, and sharing
Montessori toys are designed to target these skills so effectively that the child will hardly notice they are learning.
Puzzles and sequence building toys are entertaining as well as educational as they encourage children to understand numbers, shapes, letters, and colors.
Sensory objects such as pots, bowls, and scoopers are ideal for understanding basic life skills, measurements, and textures.
All of the toys on our list are great for improving maths and art skills, and other toys can be beneficial for music and science too.
Whilst Montessori teaching may not seem controlled enough in an educational setting, the games and activities are designed to improve skills without the child even realising it.
Instead of forcing them all to do the same thing, they are encouraged to just treat the toys and games with fairness and to put them away after use.
4-year-old Developmental Milestones
By the age of 4, a child should be able to:
- Develop their physical coordination (open doors, stop and start running whilst avoiding objects, throw a ball etc.)
- Get dressed with little help
- Draw basic shapes, letters, and numbers
- String beads, play with puzzles, and stack
- Begin to understand logic and how things work
Of course, these are very basic developmental milestones that the average 4 year old should begin to achieve, and this cannot be the same for every child.
The Montessori teaching method acknowledges this, as Montessori herself encouraged educators and parents to appreciate the child as they are without forcing them to learn in a controlled environment.
For example, if you sat a group of children down and asked them to draw a Christmas tree, referencing a cartoon perhaps, each child will react differently.
Some may have developed their motor skills quickly and will be able to focus on drawing straight lines and coloring within those lines.
Some may be bundles of energy who are great at sports and outdoor games, but find it difficult to follow instructions or stay still. Some may not understand colors properly.
At 4 years old, some children may start talking back or begin to get emotional if they are struggling. Each child has different requirements, which is why Montessori toys are ideal for a young child to help develop their self-confidence and independence.
Other Sensory Objects
A parent or educator can still follow the Montessori method without purchasing every Montessori-inspired toy.
Whilst you can buy sensory object sets, you can also use normal objects such as pots and pans, cardboard, cups, boxes, and scoops.
The whole point of sensory play is to encourage children to explore different textures. The art of touching and playing with a texture such as velcro or sand is much more beneficial to a child than simply teaching them about it.
With this, they can learn how different textures work - for example, the velcro strap is like the ones on my shoes, or this pot makes a funny sound when I knock it with a spoon, and it is hard so I know it won’t break.
This also helps to improve sound and visual recognition, which could develop into music and rhythm based skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician (1870-1952) who developed an educational method that focuses on holistic and sensory activities to achieve different skills in young children.
The method encourages independence, self-confidence, and assurance that children can learn efficiently without the constant control of a parent or educator.
This method does not support tests and marking, as it is believed that these methods encourage competition, a sense of failure, and box-ticking guidelines.
The method is designed to improve the relationships between adults and children by encouraging them to work together.
What are the best educational toys for a 4 year old?
The best educational toys for a 4 year old are skill building toys, including puzzles that require moving shapes into the appropriate place, problem solving games, and sensory toys and objects.
Every Montessori toy is designed to improve a child’s education and skills without them even realizing it, because they are distracted by fun.
Puzzles are great for shape and color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills. Problem solving toys are ideal for memory building. Sensory toys and objects are best for exploring sounds, textures, smells, and how materials and objects function.
The toys we have recommended achieve all of these, but you can also make do with household objects such as pots and pans, cardboard, boxes, and cups.
What to get a 4 year old who has everything?
If you are struggling to find a present for a 4 year old who has seemingly every toy on the planet, the best present could easily be a Montessori toy.
These toys are deliberately designed to teach a child basic life skills without boring them, and can actually provide a really enjoyable learning and playing experience.
We recommend looking into busy boards and puzzles, as they are also the better option for storage and transportation.
Is it normal for a 4 year old to be emotional?
When a child reaches 4 years old, they begin to develop emotional milestones such as tantrums, bossiness, and seeing how far they can go to see what reaction their actions will bring.
This is completely normal, varies for each child, and can be a result of a multitude of factors.
If you are struggling with distracting an emotional child, it may be worth looking into the Montessori teaching method.
Instead of telling an emotional child to stand in the naughty corner, Montessori proved that sitting down with the child and discussing their feelings and emotions is more effective.
Montessori toys are also a great distraction for this.
What games can a 4 year old play?
At 4 years old, children will start to understand how sequences, sizes, and memory works (to name a few skills). This means that any game that works to improve these skills, under the clever disguise of fun, is really beneficial to the child.
4 year olds will also begin to improve their motor skills such as running, jumping on two feet, throwing and catching a ball, avoiding objects in the way, and potentially even somersaults and skipping.
They will therefore benefit from playing and exercising outdoors (which will also tire them out!).
What cognitive skills should a 4 year old have?
Generally speaking, a 4 year old should begin to develop the cognitive milestones including sorting out shapes and colors, comparing objects, understanding symbols and colors, logical instructional steps, orders and sequences, and counting to 10 or 20.
This, of course, does not speak for all 4 year olds, as they will all reach these milestones at different times.