Skip to main content
"A great blog that is fun, interesting and informative. Packed full of information on a range of topics. I love their sense of humor while they are providing well informed and thought out answers to your questions. All in all a great read for any parent!"--Christine Howard.

Proud affiliate of Montessori Services!

Why Does Montessori Frown Upon Pretend Play?

Why Does Montessori Frown Upon Pretend Play? {Confessions of a Montessori Mom}
Photo by Lisa Nolan


I read that Montessori frowns upon pretend play, why is that? My daughter LOVES pretend play, and I see nothing wrong with that. I think all children do, am I wrong?

No, you are not wrong! From my experience (of being in a classroom) the conflict lies in the pretend play materials themselves: there is no beginning, middle, or end. It is up to the child to start and end the activity (the activity is open-ended); or it is up to the adult to say when the activity starts and stops. Throw other children into the mix and it can get chaotic.

I do agree that this is one of the biggest differences between Montessori and traditional preschool.

As for Maria Montessori and why she frowned upon it, it was her belief that children base their pretend play (fantasy play) on the actions of adults and older siblings: pretending to cook, pretending to sweep, pretending to build a tower... She wanted to give them the actual experience! Why pretend to cook when you can actually prepare food that is real and not plastic. Why pretend to sweep when you can use a real child-sized broom. Why pretend to build a tower when you can actually make one with cubes (the Pink Tower). But when you allow children to prepare food, sweep, build, you have to have child-size materials that are age-appropriate.

I eventually had to take my son (who has Down syndrome) out of Montessori (at age 4 1/2). He's always had a strong desire for experiential play and the constant need to push the boundaries: "What happens when I put the sponge on the cat? What if I put all the crayons in the sink and turn the water on?"

He also wants to use everything around him as a prop: he loves to sing and dance and perform... so I've had to improvise with activities at home! But to make a long story short, he could count, put numbers in sequence, say the names and the sounds of letters and he knew them in sign language, and he liked to write letters in chalk on the patio. And at age six he brought his first book home to read.

So what have I done at home? I have "followed the child."

I'm always fascinated in how the further I get from Montessori with my own child, the closer I get to Montessori!


How do you handle [it] if the kids want to use materials in a different way than intended? I have been letting my son do this as long as he still completes the work. For example, he pretends the knobbed cylinders are trains, he pretends the story of Cinderella while doing cleaning works, and he wants to draw and/or act out stories with the letters of the movable alphabet when we have him compose words with the alphabet and the write them on the chalkboard.

After over twenty years of teaching, I have learned to trust the child, and some children (very few it seems) have tremendous imaginations! So tremendous that no one and nothing should get in their way!

If you have a child like this, allow it and enjoy it, there is not enough "pure imagination" in our children in this high-tech, fast-paced society we live in! As long as the child is not throwing materials, or damaging them.

And it is a great way to see what interests your child! If it is trains, you can make train activities! Or drama works! I love it!


Will work for comments! You can leave your comments and questions on my Facebook page! Make sure to include your blog link or Facebook page URL so I can comment back! {}

You may also be interested in my recommended 
Montessori and homeschool books for parents and teachers on or my 
Montessori and homeschool programs for birth to nine-year-olds at 
Montessori for the Earth

Popular posts from this blog

Montessori Printables & PDFs

Montessori printables,downloads, and PDFs are an inexpensive to make your own, DIY materials for your homeschool or day care setting! Well I have some terrific resources to share with you from the Montessori mom bloggers of the Montessori Bloggers Network. Want to PIN for later?

Montessori Language & Outline for Ages 3 to 9

I am sharing my Montessori training lecture notes on language, an introduction and outline, for ages three to nine. The most important concept in early language development is that the child has to become aware that language and words are made of sounds. We achieve this with the help of the I Spy Game. The next step is to introduce the symbols that represent these sounds with the help of the Sandpaper Letters.

A Montessori Infant and Toddler Home Environment

I get a lot of questions about how to do Montessori at home with infants and their toddler siblings. So I created a Montessori Infant and Sibling Series. This is part one.
"How do I organize the work room areas (where all the Montessori-related materials are going to be) including a two-year-old area (such as art section, math section, etc.) and an 11-month-old area of the room?"
"What about their bedrooms and the living room? Which room should I start with first? It's just overwhelming."
"Should I make up a daily schedule first, or organize (plan, shop, and display) all the materials first? And how do I decide what I should put on the shelves for each of my children?"
Want to PIN for later?

How many Montessori materials do you REALLY need in the home?

A Montessori mom recently confessed in my Montessori Facebook group about the constant feeling of needing MORE: more Montessori activities and materials, more quality toys, more art supplies... When do you feel satisfied? When do you have enough!?

DIY Bedtime Box With Day and Night Matching and Sorting: A Guest Post by Carolyn Wilhelm of Wise Owl Factory

I recently purchased Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: Mom Stories from theTrenches, Lisa Nolan's mom lit parent humor anthology with forty contributing mom bloggers. Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness is very funny and poignant while describing the experiences of the sleep deprived mothers who contributed the chapters. Any young parents needing some comedic relief about their situations would feel less alone and more understood by reading this book. I've already sent it to a young mom who I know will enjoy the writing. The writers are all very talented and many have written other books and/or blogs. They are introduced at the end of the book with links for future reading and enjoyment.
I smiled for days remembering some of the lines in the book such as, "I hear a doggy barking!" spoken by a child trying to delay bedtime. The teacher mom I could so relate with, as both jobs can be exhausting. There are poems and stories, and it is the perfect bed stand book to help parent…
CLICK to subscribe for my 37-page Montessori FAQs PDF