Buying true Montessori materials can be very expensive. The quality of the materials and the true genius behind them can be pricey. There are many great alternative toys available that can do many of the things Montessori works are designed to do. Quite often though, they end up being too overwhelming with colours and can try to do too many things at once. Here are some simple tips for isolating a single quality of the toy to make it more Montessori aligned.
Covering up what’s not needed
The toy on the left is a geometric pegging board. Although a great material it can be confusing as to whether you’re doing colour matching, shape sorting or size discrimination. On the right I’ve covered up the board with paper and limited the options to the first row. Now it’s clear the board is about shape sorting.
Using colour to your advantage
Children’s toys are designed to be colourful but these colours can be very overwhelming. When designing a tray of work I include one neutral coloured material such as the cups you see in the image and one colourful material to entice the child to the tray. If I pick only colourful materials the child can confuse the work as a colour matching work. By keeping one element neutral this work becomes 1:1 object correspondence work.
Another alternative is to repaint the material to make it a uniform color to draw attention to certain aspects of the work. The work on the left can be repainted to look more like the work on the right to emphasise the work is about size discrimination.