Monday, 1 December 2014

The 3 Toys All Boys Should Have

When I talk about "essential" toys for young children what do you think about?

A ball? Wooden blocks? Stacking toys? Duplo Lego? 

I think that answer depends a lot upon our knowledge of educational theory and our own experiences.

There are a lot of educational toys out there that would probably top the list of "Must Haves" for all children. Those items that will assist your child with the development of early language, math and practical skills.

When it comes to little boys, however, I think there are three main toys that all boys should have - any they're probably not what you'd expect.

In the Montessori philosophy, the most important category of learning for young children is Practical Life. In this area, children learn the skills required to care for themselves, for others and for their environment. 

Ideally, this means giving children the opportunity to perform real, everyday activities with child-sized equipment. Such activities might include washing dishes, cleaning windows, sweeping and chopping food.

Sometimes, we are unable to give children the opportunity to engage with "real" experiences and I believe, in such instances, the pretend version can be just as good. (There are also choices you can make to enable their pretend experience to be as close to real as possible).

The toys that I think my boys benefit most from playing with fall into this category and these are the toys that - for wildly outdated, stereotypical reasons - are still sold in that gaudy pink aisle of the toy section.

1. A Baby Doll
My boys have all played with my former Cabbage Patch babies - often as preparation for a new sibling's arrival. 

Baby dolls will encourage your son to be gentle and loving and prepare them for a potential future role as a great Dad. 
Obviously, the more realistic looking your doll, the more realistic your experience. Though, personally I draw the line at dolls that wet themselves. An effective Montessori Practical Life activity is washing babies - for which you'd need a plastic doll and small washing tub. 

Baby dolls should also come with the appropriate accessories to encourage care - a change of clothes, a blanket and a bottle.

2. A Pram

Like all toddlers, little boys love to push things- especially when they are novices at the walking thing. 

Toy prams are the perfect thing to push around. We love collecting stuffed toys, dinosaurs and cars and taking them for a walk. Even if you're not pushing a baby doll, a pram also helps to get in some practice with the good parenting skills we were talking about above.

Like the real version, there are a huge variety of different styles of toy prams available. You could get one to match yours. Colour shouldn't matter, but I chose ours because it was the only one not entirely hot pink.

3. A Kitchen Play Set OR Tea Set

We do a fair amount of real cooking together. My boys like to pour, measure, mix and, of course, taste-test.

There are times, however, when I need the kitchen to myself or that they'd like to cook while I'm busy elsewhere. I'm yet to build up the courage to let them cook on their own (but when I do I'll be modelling this set up from Sara at Happiness is Here). So, a play kitchen is the answer.

You don't have to go all out and have a play kitchen like we do. A simple tea set or some of your proper - but perhaps smaller - kitchen utensils will do the job too. 

We love this Ikea Kitchen because of it's oven, sink, and light-up stove. (I'm planning on picking up the top section next time I'm at an Ikea).

Using real, and some breakable kitchen equipment gives children a sense of care and responsibility. We love the pots and pans, plates and bowls, baking set and tea set from Ikea too.

This is not a sponsored post, by the way! An apron is also an important tool in Montessori. It signifies the beginning of the child's "work" which is - and should be viewed as - a valuable contribution to home life. The matching Chef's hat and oven mitt are optional, but adorable.

So, mother's of boys - do you agree? Any other items you'd add to the essential list?


  1. Another great, informative post Sarah - your blog is fast becoming one of my favourites! I don't have very much knowledge of Montessori education so I'm learning a lot from you :) I have 2 little girls but I agree with you completely that these things should not be so gender biased.

    1. Lisa! What a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much. The more I learn about Montessori the more I love it. Hoping to keep these posts as a regular thing. S x


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