Time for a little change-up – a break from Montessori. We know our kids can’t live in a “all-Montessori-all-the-time” world. I like to think that there are many toys and educational products out there that are Montessori in spirit, if not in actuality. I’m going to share a few of my kids’ favorites.
One super-creative toy that I just discovered this past Christmas is Zoob. This is one of those “I could never have thought of this but I’m so glad someone did” type toys. Basically they are small plastic pieces in about 5 different shapes that all interlock in many ways. Truly, the possibilities are endless. The pieces are pretty easy to snap together, so my 3-year-old daughter is able to use these to create things right alongside her 6-year-old brother. Great toy.
Another thing I’ve always liked are Brain Quest cards. Each set contains two “decks” of cards with questions about math, language, and critical thinking skills. These can be used one-on-one or with a class (I used to sit in front of my class and ask questions of the whole group; it was a great way to fill an extra 15 minutes of classtime or keep busy on a the way to a field trip). I noticed that they now have a 3s/4s set so I got it and my daughter loves them.
I’m sure most of you have heard of LeapFrog products. You can find them just about everywhere, in stores or online. I really like their puzzles. I prefer to go with their non-electronic toys and materials, but one exception is their DVDs which are really fun. I must credit the Talking Words Factory 2 DVD with teaching my son all about the “silent e” in a way that really made sense to him.
A few of you have asked me if my kids use the computer. Yes, they do. Not every day or for long periods, but they do. I grew up computer-phobic (even though my family had one of the first IBM PCs on the block) and I’m determined that they not feel the same way. I think we have almost every game by both Reader Rabbit and Jump Start and they are of the highest quality. A recent favorite of my son’s is Jump Start Explorers.