How do you present toys in Montessori?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

In Montessori education, the presentation of toys is approached in a deliberate and purposeful manner. Rather than simply handing a toy to a child, the teacher takes on the role of a facilitator and guide, allowing the child to explore and learn at their own pace.

When introducing a toy, the teacher begins by carefully selecting a specific item from the Montessori materials. This selection is based on the child’s developmental stage and interests. The toy is then presented to the child in an inviting and aesthetically pleasing way, often on a tray or a designated shelf.

Once the toy is presented, the teacher’s role is to step back and observe. This is where the famous “sitting on hands” approach comes into play. By resisting the instinct to intervene or assist immediately, the teacher allows the child the opportunity to engage with the toy independently.

During this exploration phase, the child is encouraged to use their senses to fully experience the toy. They may touch, manipulate, and examine the toy from various angles. The teacher remains attentive and observant, taking note of the child’s reactions and interactions with the toy.

It is important to give the child ample time to explore and experiment with the toy. This allows them to develop concentration, problem-solving skills, and a sense of independence. The teacher should resist the urge to rush the child or redirect their attention elsewhere. Instead, they patiently wait for the child to complete their exploration.

If a child appears distracted or disinterested in the toy, it may be a sign that they need a break. In such cases, the teacher should calmly and quietly remove the toy from the child’s immediate environment and offer it again at a later time. This helps to maintain the child’s interest and motivation for independent exploration.

In the Montessori approach, the presentation of toys is not about entertaining or distracting the child. Instead, it focuses on creating an opportunity for the child to engage in purposeful play, develop their senses, and foster their natural curiosity and love of learning.

By following these guidelines and principles, the Montessori teacher sets the stage for a child-centered and self-directed learning experience. The emphasis is on providing a prepared environment that promotes exploration and independence, allowing the child to fully engage with and learn from the toys and materials provided.