If your children’s play space is a mess of noisy, garish plastic toys that never seem to get played with and yet somehow are constantly underfoot, you’re going to want to hear this: Another way is possible. Many parents are creating Montessori-inspired spaces with wooden toys that kindle curiosity, boost motor skills, and promote developmentally appropriate learning.
If you’re interested in adding these elements to your playroom, we’ve rounded up our favorite play essentials from Peeka & Co., a marketplace that curates thoughtful, sustainable toys and gear for babies and children, with an emphasis on U.S.-produced and mom- and BIPOC-owned brands. Basically, it’s like having a trustworthy, Montessori-hip friend to expertly hand-select items that your kids will love.
First, What Is A Montessori Approach?
For the uninitiated, one of the hallmarks of a Montessori classroom is letting children explore their unique interests at their own pace with a focus on hands-on learning. A Montessori approach also favors a less-is-more ethos, so it’s key to choose high-quality furniture, games, and toys that are made to last and can be played with in a variety of ways. Rather than storing an unmanageable number of entertainment-style games and toys, a Montessori playroom places a limited amount of toys (as well as art) on shelves at a child’s level, allowing them to easily engage in self-guided play that fosters independence.
Peeka & Co.’s curation is a one-stop-shop to find all the Montessori-inspired toys you need to start cultivating an enriching play space that also feels, gasp, serene for you!
How Do I Create A Montessori Playroom?
While no specific toy is a requirement in a Montessori playroom, they all tend to be sustainably and ethically produced, and most favor natural materials. There are several categories of toys you’ll see again and again:
- Eye-catching wooden play structures are a common addition, as they engage the mind and body simultaneously, allowing children to hone their gross motor skills as they immerse themselves in imaginative games.
- Sensory play is another open-ended activity that puts children in charge creatively and strengthens burgeoning fine motor skills. Wooden toys that allow children to scoop, pour, mold, and stir can be used in endless combinations with things you likely already have around the house, from dried rice and beans to that rogue bag of beads.
- Open-ended building toys that can be used over and over in a variety of ways, like Magna-Tiles.
- Games that allow children to play with early math concepts and matching — all screen-free of course — are welcome additions to any playroom aspiring to leave behind more prescriptive, battery-operated toys.
- Another solid investment for a Montessori-style playroom is a comfortable place for children to work on all of their masterpieces, experiments, and games. Choosing a lasting set that’s flexible enough for different activities is key as your child guides their own play and grows.
Take Peeka & Co’s Quiz To Find The Best Stage-Based Play Essentials For Your LO
Still not quite sure what Montessori toys would be best suited for where your LO is at developmentally? Peeka & Co’s simple quiz will steer you in the right direction — and it only takes a minute. (Seriously, it’s so helpful!)
The Peeka & Co. quiz stats by asking the age range of your child, and then drives you to choose which play interest most appeals to them (from sensory to musical to stacking and building and more). Once you weigh in on how your kiddo likes to partake in their favorite activity, you’re prompted to select what you value most when you’re selecting a toy (whether it’s sustainability or supporting a Mom-owned business). And then, voilà, you’re served up toys that match both your values and your child’s age, stage, and interests.
Shop Our Favorites From Peeka & Co.’s Collection
From engaging games and toys to investment pieces like beautifully crafted wooden climbing structures and furniture, below you’ll find 12 of our favorite Peeka & Co. items to start creating the Montessori playroom of your dreams.
1. This Wood Climber That Folds Down Between Uses
This sturdy playroom centerpiece keeps littles from trying to scale furniture around the house by giving them a place to safely explore climbing. Even better? It folds away between uses if you’re tight on space. This is an investment piece that will inspire open-ended, creative play (we see a fort in your future), while strengthening gross motor skills and improving balance and coordination. This easy-to-assemble play set is made in the U.S. with the durability to last through several children. Peeka & Co. makes it easy to choose the best fit for your playroom and child, including choosing between birch or bamboo, different color finishes, and an option to add on a rock wall or ladder that both reverse to a slide.
Recommended Age: Climber for ages 6 months+, ladder/slide 8 months+, rock wall/slide 18 months+ ( or up to 90 pounds).
2. This Detailed Imaginary Baking Set For Your Junior Baker
Your kids will make the most delicious imaginary carrot cake with this adorable rabbit-themed baking set. Kids of all ages will enjoy spending hours “baking” with this sweet wooden bunny mixer and ingredients including a “cracking” egg, milk with removable cap, sugar with a removable lid, rolling pin, spoons, spatula, mixing bowl, and a fabric flour bag. The mixer turns when kids twist the little mushroom on top, helping them improve their motor skills as they engage in role playing. The set includes 10 wooden pieces that can be wiped clean thanks to the nontoxic water-based finish.
Recommended Age: 3 years+
3. The Cutest Activity Center You’ll Ever “Sea”
Shaped like a giant jellyfish and absolutely packed with things to keep little ones busy and engaged, this wooden activity center takes inspiration from the ocean. Each section of this intriguing activity center offers colorfully painted underwater scenes and new things for toddlers to explore, including twirling starfish gears, spinning seashells, clacking clams, a bead maze, and more. It offers just the right amount of stimulation and motor skill challenges without overwhelming young children. Bonus? It looks beautiful in any bedroom or playroom.
Recommended Age: 12 months+
4. A Versatile 12-Piece Tool Set To Inspire Creativity
Whether you’re setting up a Montessori playroom or just looking to add a sensory table to a more traditional one, this beautifully crafted set of beeswax-sealed wooden toys would make the perfect addition. It features twelve different open-ended tools that children can use for any game they can dream up. There are scoops, pegs, a honey dipper, boxes, bowls, and tongs that can be used to play with rice, dried beans, or any other small sensory objects you already have around the house.
Recommended Age: Not specified
5. A Sustainably Sourced Balance Beam Set For Your Little Adventurer
It’s a fine balance between letting young children explore while keeping them safe. This sustainably sourced, FSC-certified Baltic birch wood balance beam set lets you have the best of both worlds. The 5.5 inch rise offers enough of a boost to be exciting but it’s low enough to be safe and accessible to toddlers as young as 1 year old as they work on their gross motor skills (and pretend to walk the high-wire at a circus or the plank on a pirate ship.) These lightweight beams offer endless possibilities for children beyond their intended use as balance beams. They make a great foundation for stacking blocks, a step stool, and more; then they can be stacked and stored with ease. You can choose between two and three beams.
Recommended Age: 1 to 8 years
6. The Coolest Magnetic Tile Set For Open-Ended Play
Whether you have a few sets of Magna-Tiles in your playroom already or not, this 25-piece Arctic Animals will be a welcome addition. The translucent snowflake- and glacier-printed magnetic pieces can be used for unlimited open-ended play. The five adorable arctic animals (penguin, whale, seal, and a polar bear parent and baby) are sturdy and have moving parts to let kids weave their own stories about arctic life, the zoo, or the ice castle that’s run by the polar bears. The magnetic nature of the pieces allow them to be combined with any other Magna-Tiles sets you already own or purchase later and they are made of phthalate- and BPA-free plastic.
Recommended Age: 3 years+
7. A Quality Table Set With A Reversible Top For Legos & Dry-Erase Creations
Bring out their creative side with the Little Creator, a table and chair set that has tons of little touches you’ll appreciate, and its clean lines make it right at home with any decor. It offers all the flexibility a playroom table needs; you can easily flip the reversible mat from the smooth dry-erase art surface to the Lego- and Duplo-friendly side. It comes with removable string-tied bags that actually make clean up time fun and keeps small objects like markers and building blocks within reach. A lightweight wooden lid covers the gap when not in use. The two sturdy, comfortable chairs put kids at just the right height to focus on their play and the craftsmanship of this set means you’ll get years of use out of it.
Recommended Age: 1 to 8 years
8. A 2-In-1 Rocking Board For Little & Big Kids
This durable two-in-one wooden arch lets children climb and rock. Made with FSC-certified birch wood, stainless steel fasteners, and a child-friendly finish, this sturdy open-ended toy allows children to test their gross motor skills and it can be incorporated into endless free-play games, from becoming a bridge to a castle to being a rocking boat crossing shark-infested waters. This arch is designed to be just as big of a hit with toddlers as it is with kids as old as 10, making it a great investment that will get years of use. It makes a great addition to any wooden playground pieces you may already own and is just as fun on its own.
Recommended Age: 18 months to 10 years
9. A Jungle-Themed Memory Game For All Abilities & Stages
Kids of all ages will enjoy playing this affordable memory matching game with cards sized perfectly for little hands. Made of FSC-certified board, this set of 40 durable cards (made up of 20 pairs) can be used for color- and image-matching for younger tots and as a memory matching game for older children. To start younger kids on an easier version of the memory matching game, you can remove some of the pairs to help them build their skills. Each card features beautiful jewel-tone jungle-themed art. The backs are printed with a monstera leaf and the fronts feature jungle inhabitants including lemurs, monkeys, jaguars, dragonflies, snakes, frogs, and more.
Recommended Age: 3 years+
10. A Screen-Free Way To Practice Early Math Skills
Making early math concepts and formulas an easy-to-grasp and fun game for younger kids is a tall order. Made in the U.S., these hardwood-based pieces (with a safe, no-VOC finish) allow children to place counters in front of the numerals as they work on simple addition and subtraction. The counters help children confirm their work, boosting confidence in their budding math skills. The plastic- and screen-free calculator board, letter, and counter pieces all pack into a canvas storage pouch to prevent losing any of them, making it handy for travel as well.
Recommended Age: 24 months to 6 years
11. A Modular Climber That’s The Peak Of Excitement
Meant for open-ended play that hones motor skills and inspires creativity, this climbing toy is guaranteed to make your house a go-to for play dates. The three sturdy, interlocking FSC-certified birch wood pieces include a box, ladder, and slide that will inevitably become a mountain to climb (with a secret bear cave). The carefully crafted pieces also make a fun fort with a blanket draped over them. This set offers lots of options for such a small footprint and because the pieces come apart, it’s easy to set up new challenges and to store the flat parts in a closet while the cube can double as a kid-friendly seat or table.
Recommended Age: 2 to 9 years
12. A Musical Toy That Sounds As Beautiful As It Looks
Help your kids get in tune with their musical side with this cute, colorful wooden llama that looks like a work of art. There’s lots to keep toddlers busy on this well-made toy, which features a xylophone, washboard, spinners, gears, clacking saddle blankets, and a removable maraca tail. This toy has enough activities to let multiple children jam out at once and to keep things tidy, the included mallets store in the llama’s head.
Recommended Age: 12 months+
Shop The Collection
This article was originally published on