Inspired Montessori Trays & Baskets Guide

Who’s ready to set up their Montessori Shelf?

I don’t know about you but sometimes the thought of starting your first Montessori shelf can get a little overwhelming. Don’t worry we have you covered! We are always looking for ways to make preparing the environment easy on the parent/guide so they can focus on the learning :)  We’ve tried out a lot of trays and baskets and these are our favorite picks for you.


iML’s Favorite Shelf Trays and Baskets


1. Mini Beech Wooden Tray

2. Three Dark Brown Trays

3. Small Woven Basket

4. Wood Calabash Bowls

5. 3 Woven Rope Baskets

6. 5-Piece Wooden Trays



You’ll find an affiliate link with each item, meaning if you make a purchase through inspired Montessori Learning’s link, we will receive a small commission. We use and love each item in our guide. You’ll be helping to support our site and its future endeavors. We appreciate you!

Inspired Montessori Stocking Stuffer Gift Guides

We like our stuffers around here :)

We’ve compiled our favorite little stocking stuffers for you to explore by age! We want to make it as easy as possible for you to shop for your family’s needs. Stay awhile and look around! We promise you won’t be disappointed with our amazing finds this year. ☺️

Be sure to check out our post talking about🎁 intentional gift giving 🎁 and what makes a good Montessori gift. To make it even easier for you this year, check out our other post, 🎄 Holiday Gift Guides, 🎄talking all about Holiday gifts and a few things we’re buying the kids this year.

Some of the items in each gift guide are tied to affiliate links. Which means if you make a purchase through inspired Montessori Learning, we will receive a small commission. You’ll be helping to support our site and its future endeavors. We appreciate you!

 2020 Holiday Stocking Stuffer Guide Ages 1-3 Years


  1. Rainbow Top
  2. Farm Animals
  3. Toddler Paint Brushes
  4. Magnification Blocks
  5. Color People
  6. Honey Stick Crayons
  7. Wooden Threading Apple
  8. Waldorf Hand Kite
  9. Texture Squares
  10. Night Night Farm Board Book
  11. Fjallraven, Kanken Mini Backpack~ I’m adding this just because I love it! Pack up some of the stocking stuffers in this perfectly sized bag and keep it in the car if you are traveling this season.  Beautifully made and durable as well as easy to wash!


 2020 Holiday Stocking Stuffer Guide Ages 3-6 Years

  1. Rainbow Catcher
  2. Cooking Utensils
  3. Dot Markers
  4. Colored Pencils
  5. Woodland Animals
  6. Wooden Magnifying Glass
  7. Slide Whistle                           
  8. Go Fish Game
  9. Spinning Tops
  10. Bird Caller
  11. Fjallraven, Kanken Mini Backpack~ I’m adding this just because I love it! Pack up some of the stocking stuffers in this perfectly sized bag and keep it in the car if you are traveling this season.  Beautifully made and durable as well as easy to wash!

Inspired Montessori Holiday Gift Guides

Who’s ready for some shopping?

I don’t know about you but sometimes the thought of holiday shopping can get a little overwhelming. A lot of sales, making sure to get the best deal, stressing you’ll buy a good gift, and all of this on top of a busy, crazy life! This year we have you covered! We are always looking for ways to make this season as stress free as possible as well as keeping it simple, so to make it a little easier for you, we put together some of our favorite Montessori gift ideas and separated them by age group . Most of these materials we know and love and a few we will be trying out this Christmas ourselves……..well our kids will.😉 Shopping gift guides from home is a real treat and since we are all trying to stay out of the stores and social distance as much as possible, it just makes a lot of sense. So ready, set, let’s shop!

Be sure to check out our post talking about🎁 intentional gift giving 🎁 and what makes a good Montessori gift. As an added bonus, don’t forget to check out our other post, 🎄 Stocking Stuffer Gift Guides, 🎄(also by age group!) sharing links to some awesome Montessori inspired toys and activities for your child’s stocking that will have a meaningful impact on your child’s learning experience. And we have to mention our awesome 🎁Curriculum Printable Units,🎁 and we also have a lot of great Free Printable resources to help you get started!

You’ll find a few affiliate links in each gift guide, which means if you make a purchase through inspired Montessori Learning, we will receive a small commission. You’ll be helping to support our site and its future endeavors. We appreciate you!

 2020 Holiday Gift Guide Ages 1-3 Years

  1. Scarf box and Scarves
  2. Wooden Ball Tracker
  3. Montessori Coin Box
  4. Sensorial Bin Tools
  5. Busy Board
  6. Grimm’s Nesting Bowls
  7. Soft Play Climbing Blocks
  8. Junior Ramp Racer
  9. Babu Rocker
  10. Cozy Car
  11. Monochrome Wooden Building Blocks
  12. Peek a Boo Boxes
  13. Montessori Permanence Box
  14. Rainbow Sound Box
  15. Sprout Sous-Chef Tower
  16.  Construction Vehicles
  17. First Ball Run
  18. Marble Run
  19. Tea Set
  20. Climbing Triangle (Pikler)


 2020 Holiday Gift Guide Ages 3-6 Years

  1. Ceramic Tea Set
  2. Cash Register
  3. Rainbow Building Blocks
  4. Light Table
  5. Grimm’s Seven Friends in a Bowl
  6. Ikea Kitchen
  7. Wooden Barn with Animals
  8. Marble Run
  9. Crayon Rocks
  10. Indoor Swing
  11. Kids Cruiser Bike
  12. Montessori Screwdriver Board
  13. Real Working Cleaning Tools
  14. Puzzle and Shape Brain Teaser
  15. Phonetic Spelling and Matching Game
  16. Around the World Puzzle
  17. Walk the World at Christmastime
  18. Balance Board
  19. Real Tool Belt
  20. Child Sized hammer

Inspired Montessori Gifts for the Holidays!

Would Maria Montessori Say Yes to Presents?

If I were to guess, I would say that Maria Montessori was not about giving a lot of gifts. She lived during a different time of course when gift giving was definitely not as extravagant as it has become today, but I’m pretty sure if she lived now, she would have some strong feelings about the kinds of things we should give our children.
Don’t get me wrong…..I am a gift giver by nature. I have been known to spoil my little children, my adult children and my grandchildren just a tad 😉 but giving my children meaningful and intentional gifts have always played a large role in my gift giving!

Preparing to Choose a Gift

When the children were little, we were pretty careful about the things we spent our money on when it came to gifts. I wanted to make sure that what I gave them had meaning in some way whether it was a special traditional gift or whether it was something that I wanted them to have for years to come, I tried to be thoughtful in my approach to gift giving and hone in on things that they not just wanted because their friends had it but that they could learn and grow from because it was of interest to them.

This thought goes right along with the Montessori idea of Following the Child. And maybe just being aware of the next best step for our children would serve us well when choosing gifts too. Here are some great questions to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s Christmas wish list.

  1. When you stop and observe your child while working or playing, what is it that he or she is interested in right now?
  2. What skills are they trying to develop?
  3. What holds their attention and builds long moments of concentration?

When we can see the patterns of development present, or development that is making its way to the surface in that moment, then we will better know the gifts for our children that would be meaningful and have purpose. This means that they will spend more time learning from and playing with their gifts. Let’s face it, we don’t want to bring home the latest fad gift with all the bells and whistles only to find out after a few days that our child isn’t interested in it anymore. Ever had that happen? I know I have.


Keep in mind Maria Montessori’s thought on this,

The whole purpose of Montessori work especially for young children in Practical Life spaces is to give them opportunities for learning and growth in independence and responsibility. This doesn’t mean that every toy we give our child needs to be rooted in that purpose but it does make selecting a gift a lot of fun when trying to decide what beautiful things could be created from open ended materials or materials with opportunities to teach valuable lessons.

What are Montessori inspired Toys or Activities?

Although there is no such thing as a “Montessori Toy” there are many things that you might call “Montessori inspired toys”. Maria Montessori developed a beautiful curriculum of wooden materials that we use in our classrooms and homes that are part of what we call Montessori Materials, but she didn’t develop toys. Since this time, many have created works and toys that are Montessori based in nature because of how they are made and the purpose behind them.

In my opinion, in order to be considered a Montessori inspired toy or activity, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Is the activity or toy attractive?
  2. Is it well made?
  3. Are the components made with natural materials? (wood, stone, elements of the earth etc.)
  4. Are they based in reality rather than fantasy?
  5. Will your child learn from the activity or toy?
  6. Does it promote practical living and or sensorial lessons?

I promise you there are many, many Montessori inspired activities and toys that will meet most, if not all of the criteria above. I should probably note here that because Montessori inspired materials are well made and mostly created with natural materials, they will be a little pricier at times. But with a little care, they will also last for long periods which is great for saving and passing materials down to younger siblings or even grandchildren. I still use materials today for my grandchildren that I used with my own children because the things I purchased were made to last a long long time. So in the end, my investment went really far.

The Gift of Simplicity

So this year, this crazy year of 2020, I encourage you to think about the kinds of toys you put under the tree. Use the above list as a kind of check off and try to purchase things that will not only bring joy to your child in that moment but will have a lasting effect on his/her development over the course of time.

Oh, and this is probably a good time to just mention that more isn’t always best! When your children are young, it’s the perfect time to give them “gift giving guidelines”. Here were the guidelines in our home, “In our family, we do two stocking stuffers, a little candy and an orange (a generational family tradition), a gift from mom and dad and a gift from Santa.” Most importantly, we always did a lot of fun things together during their time off from school which is where the real memories were created! I’m sure all of my children would say that they don’t necessarily remember a lot of the gifts they were given but they do remember the time we spent together. Just something to think about. :)

In an attempt to help you begin to figure out what your gift giving routine will be, we have gathered together some of our top Montessori inspired toys that we think your child would benefit from receiving this year. There are guides here for Toddlers and Preschool Age Children. These are coming straight off Lovey’s own gift list for the Grands! We’ve also included a Stocking Stuffer Guide for Toddlers and Preschoolers! Go check out both guides and tell us what you think!

Have a Joyous Holiday Season!


Inspired Montessori Learning Birthday Gift Guide – 3 Years

The Birthday Walk

In many Montessori schools around the world you will find a sweet little birthday celebration called the “Birthday Walk.” This is a simple yet incredibly beautiful way to celebrate a child’s time on earth since their birth.  You can go here to read about the ‘Montessori Birthday Celebration’ and access our free “Birthday Walk” printables. This month we have a really special day because our Emery and Lovey (Barbara), share the same birthday!

Gift Guide for a 3 year old

We get asked a lot of questions about what parents should get to put on their child’s work shelf that’s age appropriate. We know a lot of you have a child turning 3 soon so in honor of Emery’s birthday, we’re releasing our very first Gift Guide! Emery received some of these items for her birthday and the rest are items we already know and love. Can’t wait for you all to try them!

Some of these items are affiliate links which means we get a small commission if you purchase it, at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep our blog running. Rest assured, we stand behind all the items we list on this gift guide. Enjoy!

  1. Birthday Cake – First up is this adorable Melissa and Doug Cake Cutting work. Emery is getting this for her birthday. We have already checked it out. Because Emery has been practicing her cutting skills both with other work like this and in the kitchen since she was 18 months old, we love that this is a double layered cake. It will be that much more challenging for her. But you don’t have to use the top layer if your 3 year old is just starting out cutting!
  2. Stacking Rainbow – This stacking rainbow is such a great gift! It is really large and great quality. Your child can use it for creating a traditional rainbow or use the pieces for creative play. It will teach balance, problem-solving, pattern recognition, fine motor skills and is a beautiful wooden material.
  3. Crayon Rocks – These are great for young children in developing and strengthening the pincer grip needed to control a pencil. We use these in our school in California for our young children but the older children love working with them too.
  4. Stacking and Sorting Bowls – A great way to help a child in learning colors, practicing counting, sorting, and imagining!
  5. Tool Belt – A favorite of boys and girls in our classrooms and a super fun thing to have around the house too. Children love working alongside mom and dad building things. We like to get a big tree stump and halfway hammer in several nails on top of the stump, allowing the children to put the tool belt on and hammer away. As they get older, they begin to learn how to control the hammer better and can start building simple projects.
  6. Montessori Lock Box – These are always so much fun! Children will play for hours locking and unlocking these doors. They will also use them to hide things in so if something comes up missing, check there first. :)
  7. Magnetic Building Tiles – These magnetic tiles are great for the imagination and fine motor control. Fun for the whole family!
  8. Shopping Cart – This was a winner with Emery from day one! She loves pushing it around and loading up with all of her “treasures” in the cart while she is shopping around the house.
  9. TeepeeThis is a perfect place to use as a reading corner or a special area for relaxing, taking a nap, spending quiet time or talking to friends and parents. Every three year old needs a teepee!
  10. Cleaning Set – Children just want to do what adults are doing so put them to work cleaning and organizing with this cute cleaning set! This is Practical Life at its best!
  11. Balance Board – This is such a great material. We love our balance board. This one is made exceptionally well and is very beautiful. Great for developing motor skills and natural balance and can be used in a variety of ways: as a seesaw, boat, tunnel, bridge, rocker and slide. Your child’s imagination is the limit!
  12. River Stone Set – Go over the river and through the woods on stones toward learning! Kids will learn coordination, balance, and depth perception as they hop from stone to hilltop, great for indoor and outdoor use!
  13. PlasmaCar – Another family favorite! Your child will love zooming around the house or outdoors with this fun PlasmaCar!
  14. Art EaselIt is always fun to have an art easel available for your child. Drawing, painting and even writing on chalkboards are an important part of your child’s development. This art easel has it all. A chalkboard on one side, a paper roller on top and a magnetic board on the other side. Great storage underneath and don’t you just love this color?
  15. Indoor Trampoline – We know our kids have energy to burn! This is a great indoor trampoline for working out their whole body. They will develop better fitness, balance, and coordination. If you have a long winter ahead like we do, this might just be a lifesaver!


We hope you will try some of these great products for your children! Let us know how they like them!


-Barbara, Rachel and Kayla

A Montessori Birthday Celebration

“Celebration of Life”

Everyone loves birthdays! And we are no different at iML! There are presents, cake, decorations and parties which are all soooo much fun but we especially love how many Montessori schools around the world celebrate birthdays with a special “Birthday Walk” recognizing a child’s birthday as a “Celebration of Life.” And since we are celebrating two birthdays on the same day in our family today, we thought you might like to learn about this simple birthday ritual too! The Montessori Birthday Celebration or “Birthday Walk” as it is sometimes called is a wonderful tradition that you could easily incorporate into your own family celebrations.

The “Birthday Walk” is used in many Montessori classrooms to symbolize a child’s journey on earth from newborn to school, marking the passage of time. It also introduces children to the concepts of months, days of the month, the rotation of the sun on its axis and how the earth revolves around the sun marking 365 days or one year.

This celebration is also used to help children recognize how they have grown during the year and how they have changed since their birth. It provides a special way to highlight them as well as create and foster a sense of community in the family and classroom.

“…for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things.” –Maria Montessori

We think this is such a beautiful ceremony that we created a special Birthday Walk printable that you can use at home with your families.

We also created a birthday timeline printable that you can use each year which is a great compliment to our birthday walk printable.  It has a place for a picture of your child, a place for you to record a few milestones and highlights of your child’s life, or things they liked to do during that year in their life.  We like to hang this on our wall during our child’s birthday week and use it as another way to teach time and space to young children. Plus it is just a sweet little reminder of how much a child has grown from birthday to birthday.

Prepare For the Birthday Walk

There is some preparation involved in order to get ready for this little presentation and while in our classrooms in California we use a specially made ‘Birthday Walk’ material or you can make your own as well.


1. Several days before your child’s birthday, prepare a little timeline of your child’s life, highlighting one or two special things that your child was doing during that time in his or her life including a few pictures for each year as well. You can find our timeline printable we use in our shop.

2. Gather a candle and lighter or matches. If you can find a candle snuffer it’s always a great touch but not necessary. We have found them at places like Homegoods, Target and on Amazon. You can find a great priced one here.     

3. Print off, laminate and cut out our Birthday Walk Printables.
4. You can use a regular globe or our printable globe to represent the earth.  Here is one that we use in our classrooms here.

How to do the Birthday Walk

•A candle is lit in the middle of a circle or ellipse (Most Montessori school’s use an ellipse as a gathering place because it represents the earth’s orbit) The candle represents the sun. Labels with each month of the year are laid out in a circle radiating out from the “sun.”

•Everyone participating sits around the sun and months of the year, while the birthday child stands next to the month of his or her birth holding a globe.

•The child then walks around the sun one time for each year of his or her life. As the child walks, you can sing the The Earth Goes Round the Sun Song included with our birthday printables. Once the child makes his/her way around the sun, you can share a few things that he/she was doing or milestones that marked that time in your child’s life. (Our timeline printable is great for organizing these thoughts.) Continue doing this until your child goes around the sun one time for each year of life.

•At the end, we sing one more final birthday song that you can find with our birthday printables. Then we let our children extinguish the candle with a candle snuffer or blow it out as an end to the ceremony.


A Birthday Tradition

Another beautiful tradition that we have was started by my Grandmother who was also a Montessori Guide. She gave all of my children, and I suspect her other grandchildren the book called, “On the Day you Were Born,” by Debra Fraiser. You can find it here on Amazon.

It’s a beautiful illustration and reading of how the Earth and family eagerly await and welcome each child into the world! The story is full of such sweet reverence for life and love for humanity. We highly recommend getting this book and reading it to your child every year!

Let us know how your family ‘Birthday Walk’ experiences go! We would love to hear about your experiences and see photos! However you choose to enact this lovely ceremony, we hope it will become a special tradition for your families for years to come!


-Barbara, Rachel and Kayla