Top Montessori Gifts to Buy in 2020

Top Montessori Gifts for 2020 (Photo by edenpictures on Trends Hype / CC BY)

I have poured over hundreds of online Montessori materials, products, activities, and kids' books for your 2020 shopping via my favorite Montessori online seller, Montessori Services: a family-owned and operated company in my county! I have been shopping there (online) for nearly two decades! (And, yes, I am an affiliate... so if you make any purchases from the links I will get a small commission, which will help me afford books and more books for my book-loving son, and some art supplies, too! So I thank you in advance for any purchases you make!

1. Books I recommended (for kids):

Henry Helps with Laundry, ages 2 and up ($): "Laundry is one of those household tasks that even toddlers can help with. This engaging book shows simple ways a child can participate – sorting whites from darks, making piles, putting laundry in the machines, and delivering clean laundry. The back cover offers simple tips for parents, stressing the flexibility of expectations and the importance of routine. The whimsical illustrations by Ailie Busby add a touch of humor. Written by Beth Bracken. Paperback, 28 pages." MS (Montessori Services)

"Beth Bracken is an award-winning author of books for children of all ages, from her Mom's Choice-winning Henry Helps books for toddlers to the critically acclaimed Faerieground series for middle-grade readers. Her picture book Too Shy for Show-and-Tell was one of the 2013 Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year in the Under-Five category. Beth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and their two children."

We love these stories! My 20-month-old twin sons love these books. They are short, to the point and easy for them to understand. They are also helpful to me for finding ways to let them help around the house.~Anita L. Goss, an reviewer, verified purchase

This is a great little series. I like it for two reasons. First, it encourages kids to 'help' and be apart of the family and it is also just a cute story! I love the illustrations and because the language is simple it also makes a good early reader!~Alice, Goodreads

Henry Helps Clean His Room, ages 2 and up ($): "Henry’s room gets very messy — just like most children’s rooms. And Henry knows how to clean it up! This engaging book offers simple ways that toddlers and young children can be a big help in cleaning up, including making the bed, sorting toys, putting away stuffed animals, and picking up dirty clothes. The back cover offers simple tips for parents, stressing the flexibility of expectations and the importance of routine. The whimsical illustrations by Ailie Busby add a touch of humor. Written by Beth Bracken. Paperback, 28 pages." MS

Very cute book. Physical size of book also nice and pages had a nice texture/feel to them. Great addition to my son Henry's library. Definitely plan on purchasing more from this series.~ST, reviewer

The Henry book is great. The words are not complicated at all, which makes it easy for a child to understand. What I like the best is that Henry helps with daily tasks. These tasks are easy and most children can do them.~Martha Guerrero, reviewer
Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet, ages 3 and up ($$): "Stunning photography illuminates in vivid detail the diversity of plants, animals, and landscapes on our planet, reflecting on basic concepts of science, language, and ecology/conservation. Notes from the author encourage each of us to consider the many gifts Earth provides (food, water, air, etc.) and to share a thank-you through art, language, or action. Includes ideas and resources. By April Pulley Sayre. Hardcover, 36 pages." MS [There were only four in stock when I wrote this post, if they run out of stock, you can get it on Amazon.]

"Acclaimed children’s book author and photographer April Pulley Sayre’s Love Letter to Earth is a stunning exploration of the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Remarkable photographs and a rich, layered text introduce concepts of science, nature, geography, biology, poetry, and community.

"April Pulley Sayre, an award-winning photographer and acclaimed author of more than sixty-five books, introduces concepts of science, nature, and language arts through stunning photographs and a poetic text structured as a simple thank-you note.

"Touching on subjects from life cycles to weather, colors, shapes, and patterns, this is an ideal resource for science and language art curriculums and a terrific book for bedtime sharing. Thank You, Earth is a great choice for Earth Day celebrations, as well as family and group read-alouds.

"Includes backmatter with kid-friendly ideas for conservation projects information about the photographs, and additional resources." description

A beautiful love letter to our planet. A lovely poem and stunning photos perfectly paired to educate and celebrate the planet Earth.~Erin Buhr, Goodreads

I frequently give April's books as gifts for new Moms and young children. Oh, and I keep one for myself! Her photos are breathtaking and the writing is poetic. This book is just so beautiful and is an important reminder of all that we need to cherish and preserve.~Cheryl Nix, reviewer

Lots of Feelings, ages 3 and up ($+): "A delightful visual presentation introduces the idea of reading facial expressions. Each page is labeled with one word for [each] emotion and shows one large and two smaller close-up photos of children experiencing that feeling. A great way for children to build the vocabulary needed to effectively express their own emotions. Expressing feelings is a basic form of communication. Recognizing the feelings of others and expressing our own appropriately are the keys to resolving conflicts peacefully. Paperback, 23 pages." MS

"Shelley Rotner is a noted freelance photojournalist, whose work has appeared in Time magazine, National Geographic's World Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside Magazine, Food and Wine, and numerous others. She is also the author and photo-illustrator of over 30 award-winning children's books. Her most recent books include Many Ways, Every Season, and Feeling Thankful.

"Shelley has also traveled extensively for UNICEF documenting programs about children, women, and education. Currently, Ms. Rotner is working on a collection of large, hand-painted photographs that capture beautiful and sacred places she has discovered in her travels.

"Shelley Rotner received her undergraduate degree in photography and psychology from Syracuse University and a dual Master's degree in elementary education and museum education from Bank Street College."

This was my son's favorite book! So much so I had to buy another copy because the first one got so worn out from use! And it was a joy for me to read--over and over and over and over again, very dramatically, of course, which he devoured!~Lisa Nolan

My toddler has enjoyed this book for months. It was her favorite for a while and she still picks it out for me to read. I like that this book uses real pictures of emotions and they're accurate. We have tried others that don't, which don't really teach toddlers what the face of a feeling looks like in my opinion. I gave it 5 stars for what it is, pictures of basic emotions. I also like that it shows a couple of different expressions for each emotion. The book doesn't do anything more. So if you're looking for an instruction manual on dealing with feelings, this wouldn't be a good fit. If you're looking for more sophisticated vocabulary for feelings, this isn't it either.~Rooibos, reviewer, verified purchase

Grace and Courtesy: A Picture Guide for Children and Adults, ages 3 and up ($+): "Lovely artwork and simple, one-sentence messages reinforce the lessons of grace and courtesy. Reminders such as 'I walk with careful feet' and 'I treat materials gently' help create a harmonious and peaceful classroom. The convenient, easel-style format makes it easy to change the pictures and display them on a table or shelf as a visual reminder. By Montessorian Alicia Olson [AKA Alicia Jewell and author of The Peace Rose]. Spiral-bound; 16 double-sided pages. 10 x 8." MS

"Author and illustrator Alicia Olson has also created The Peace Rose and is the illustrator for The Seed of God. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters and has been a Montessori teacher since 2001."~Google Books

"The lessons of grace and courtesy in Montessori environments that replace 'classroom management' help children to build community together. Simple sentences and related art will guide you through the lessons of grace and courtesy and serve as a gentle reminder of the practices that create harmony among children.

"Artist and Montessori teacher Alicia Olsen has created an easel book with paintings of 16 lessons for grace and courtesy. Each page is a painting with a simple sentence that you can use to demonstrate a lesson to children or reinforce [it] by setting a particular page on a shelf at the children's eye-level. Perfect for children ages 3-9. A page of text for adults guides them in choosing and introducing a new lesson.~Center for Children and Theology online bookstore description

I love this concept! I wish I had the book when my son was young!~Lisa Nolan

I love [that] the illustrations are soft and calm and beautiful and the text perfect. We choose a page a week to focus on in the classroom. Last week was 'Careful feet' :) BOTTOM LINE Yes, I would recommend this to a friend.~Montessori Fun, Verified Buyer, MS

The book Grace and Courtesy is excellent. I am working in a Public School Kindergarten class and my students love it. We read one page and keep looking at it for a day or more. The gentle pictures and one thought on each page captures their attention and we refer back to it throughout our day. Thanks.~Rosemary, Center for Children and Theology online bookstore review

Hear Your Heart Book and Stethoscope, ages 5 and up ($+): "While you are awake… while you are asleep… your heart is always beating—but just how does your heart work? This book introduces human anatomy with a clear, accessible look at the circulatory system. Did you know that a baby’s heart beats more than 120 times a minute, while a mouse’s heart beats more than 500 times a minute, or that you can only feel your pulse in an artery and not a vein? Includes activities and resources. By Paul Showers. Illustrated by Holly Keller. Paperback, 33 pages." Stethoscope: "Listen carefully—it really works! This authentic stethoscope will allow children to discover their heartbeats and gain awareness of their bodies. A calming activity because children must be very still and quiet to hear their hearts beat. Chrome-plated with white polyethylene ear tips; flexible, plastic tubing. 24 in. long (tubing can be cut to adjust the length)." MS

Editorial Review from School Library Journal: "Holly Keller's illustrations and Paul Showers's text complement one another well, and will give young readers a good introduction to how the heart works. Three simple activities (measuring heart rate, exercising the heart, and making a stethoscope) are easy but effective ways to augment the text. The writing is succinct and clear. The simple line illustrations include a minimum of detail yet they reflect the action and convey different emotions effectively. The illustrations of the structure of the heart are well done, resulting in a good overview for beginning readers."~Christine A. Moesch (via, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, NY. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

"Paul Showers wrote twenty books for the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, including favorites such as What Happens to a Hamburger? and Where Does the Garbage Go? Mr. Showers worked on the Detroit Free Press, the New York Herald Tribune, and for thirty years, the Sunday New York Times.

"Holly Keller has illustrated a number of books in the Lets-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, including Be a Friend to Trees. She is also the author and illustrator of many picture books, including Island Baby and Horace. Ms. Keller lives in West Redding, Connecticut."

Concepts taught: heart formation (2 halves), heart performance, heart importance -> moves/circulates blood, heartbeat/ sound -> active equals faster, artery/veins/ valves. [Tips:] Have students stay in place, run, walk, jump, lay down and feel their heartbeat; bring in stethoscope/ or plastic cup [and] have students pair up and listen to one another's heart.~Katrina Kim, Goodreads
I read this at our local Public Library for storytime and the 4-year-olds were able to grasp many of the concepts of how the heart works. Though I would recommend this book for at least 6 on up.~R.G., reviewer, verified purchase

I almost returned this book because I didn't personally enjoy it. But my 5-year-old daughter found it before I did and insisted I read it to her. She LOVES reading about the heart and she loves this book. I also purchased a kid's stethoscope which works well enough and we have fun listening to each other's and to our pets' hearts.~G. Jackson, reviewer, verified purchase
Trees Fandex: Bound field guide to 47 trees by Steven Aronson, ages 5 and up ($+): "Put knowledge in the palm of your hand with this unique deck of photo cards. This fact-filled field guide helps children learn to identify 47 species of North American trees and will easily fit in a backpack for hikes and field botany excursions. Bound at the bottom corner, with die-cut photos at the top, the deck opens like a fan to display keys to identification, habitat, range, Latin name, life cycle, and more. Did you know that the White Ash tree is as important for making baseball bats today as it was for making early Native American bows? Compelling cultural and historical facts are chosen to appeal to children. Sturdy coated cardstock; 10½ long." MS

"Bringing the world of TREES to your fingertips, FANDEX presents a foolproof field guide. Four visual keys--die-cut leaf, bark pattern, flower, nut or seed, and photo of the full tree--plus descriptions of habitat and more combine to give a complete picture of North America's forest and backyard trees. In addition, TREES is a cultural history--of the mighty White Oak, [the] California Redwood, [and the] Ailanthus [The Tree of Heaven, and] the tree that grows in description

Great tree guide -- our family loves the beautiful color photos of tree leaves and the descriptions are brief, accurate, and interesting. It is bound like a stack of paint chips a designer might carry around -- with one post at the bottom so that each page fans out. The only annoying thing about this is that the top edge of each page is literally shaped like the leaf it features, which means that the tops of the pages can get caught on each other when you try to fan it back in. In our family, this is a small issue that we are happy to live with. We take it with us on hikes and camping trips and use it to identify trees (and all the leaves our daughter loves to collect whenever we are outside). If you are looking for a convenient North American tree identification guide that is well-designed, in color, and easy to travel with, this is the one!~SBloomquist, reviewer, verified purchase

2. Activities and materials I recommend (for kids): 

Easy Hold Magnifier: 2X magnification with 3X insert, ages 2 and up ($+): "This wood-framed, acrylic magnifier is sturdy and shatter-resistant. Handles make it easy for small hands to securely grasp and hold. 2X magnification with a 3X inset. 7¼ x 4½ in.,  ¾ in. thick."

Desk to Go: Portable desk, ages 3 and up ($$$): "A child’s creativity knows no bounds, so set your child free to write, draw, and imagine anytime, anywhere. This portable desk is designed to sit comfortably on a child’s lap indoors, outdoors, or on car rides. Two zipper pockets can hold art materials or other small items, elastic bands secure [the] paper to the board, and the padded base rests comfortably against a lap. Made of nylon and woven plastic. 13 x 10 in."

Small Pal’s Home: Temporary home for small pets, fish, or insects, ages 4 and up ($): "Young naturalists can get a closer look at small friends like salamanders, worms, ladybugs, caterpillars, or frogs with this temporary home. After observation, children can return creatures safely to their natural habitat. A good first aquarium for tetras or other tiny fish. Features include: Vented cover with flip-top feeder, sturdy carry handle, clear plastic sides offer optimum viewing. Use it without the lid for physical science experiments involving water (such as a [Montessori] float and sink activity). 7¾" x 4" overall; 5¾" deep. Lid color may vary."

Nuts & Bolts Set: 15 pieces, ages 4 and up ($): "For use as a combination sorting and manipulative exercise, this set includes three bolts in graded sizes: ⅜ in. dia. x 3 in. long; 5/16 in. dia. x 2 in. long; and ¼ in. x 1 in. long. Each bolt is fitted with a washer, a hex nut, a lock washer, and a wing nut. If children start with assembled sets [recommended~Lisa Nolan], they can take them apart and sort them either by item (all bolts together, washers together, etc.) or by sizes (all the parts of one set together), and then reconstruct them."

Telescopic Pond Net: Extends to 47", ages 6 and up ($$): "Catch and release! Perfect for pond dipping, this generously sized mesh net is ideal for catching everything from bugs and tadpoles to frogs and small fish. Strong, yet lightweight! The aluminum, telescoping handle extends from 30 in. to 47 in. Net measures 8 in. wide, 7½ in. deep."

Wooden Ornament Kit, ages 6 and up ($): "Fun for the whole family. Make three-dimensional wooden ornaments to keep or give as gifts. This artist quality set makes 5 ornaments (approx. 4½ in. each). Includes smooth slotted plywood shapes, 2 paintbrushes, 12 colors of acrylic paint, 6 colors of glitter in tiny shakers, glue, cord for hanging. Please note: This kit does not have instructions but the items were pretty self-explanatory. The ornaments can be painted before they are assembled (the two pieces slide together) or they can be assembled first, and then painted. We recommend assembling the ornaments first before you apply glue or glitter (it gives them texture and it makes them harder to put together)."

3. Stocking stuffers I recommend for kids: 

Easel Brush Set: 10 brushes with wood handles, ages 2 and up, ($): "This durable paintbrush set is perfect for [an] early easel or tabletop painting. Natural bristles hold the paint and give children a satisfying experience. Blunt-cut bristles (½ in.) are attached to a smooth wooden handle. 7½ in. long overall."

Left-Handed Kinder Scissors, ages 2 to 4, ($): "These top-quality scissors are ideal for the first attempts of cutting. Made by a German company [that] has been producing scissors for over 125 years, they feature blades that will cut through paper but not into skin. Minimize [the] frustration by providing the right pair of scissors suitable for the task at hand. These scissors support creativity and the development of fine motor skills. Each pair features rust-free stainless steel blades. Impact-resistant plastic handles. Comfortable handles. Rounded tips. Suitable for arts and crafts they will cut paper, string, yarn, etc. 4¼ in. long."

Right-Handed Kinder Scissors, ages 2 to 4 ($): "These top-quality scissors are ideal for the first attempts of cutting. Made by a German company [that] has been producing scissors for over 125 years, they feature blades that will cut through paper but not into skin. Minimizes the frustration by providing the right pair of scissors suitable for the task at hand. These scissors support creativity and the development of fine motor skills. Each pair features rust-free stainless steel blades. Impact-resistant plastic handles. Comfortable handles. Rounded tips. Suitable for arts and crafts they will cut paper, string, yarn, etc. 4¼ in long."

BugLoupe: A magnifying loupe, ages 3 and up ($+): "Bugs or leaves, fabrics or money — everything looks different magnified! This superior magnifying loupe is pre-focused so children don’t get frustrated when they’re examining the world up close. Simply place the loupe on top of any flat surface for a 4.5X view of what’s underneath. Thick, professional-grade acrylic construction is very durable. 4 in. base x 3 in. high."

Tap 'n' Glue Cap & Bottle: Glue-saving dispenser for children, ages 3 and up ($): "Sticky fingers can be so frustrating! Increase the likelihood of positive art experiences with this ingenious solution. Fill with white glue of any kind. Press the cap on the right spot to dispense the precise amount of glue. We’ve heard from a teacher whose school reduced glue consumption from eight gallons per year to two gallons, just by using the Tap ’n’ Glue Bottle. Even better, children will have a more positive art experience when they have more control over where the glue goes. 4 oz. bottle; 5 in. high. (Sorry, glue not included.)"

World Placemat: Two-sided world political and physical map, ages 4 and up ($): "Hmm…I wonder where spaghetti comes from? You might point to China where the noodle originated, or to Italy — Marco Polo brought the noodle to Italy from China many, many years ago! A springboard for all kinds of discussions, this laminated placemat has a labeled political world map on one side and a blank world map on the other. Label countries or color in continents with any water-based markers (not included). Use this placemat at lunch or snack time or as a fun learning activity... Wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge. 17½ x 12 in."

United States Placemat: Two-sided U.S. political and physical map, ages 5 and up ($): "I wonder where the capital of Texas is? You would point to Austin where the state’s capital is. A springboard for all kinds of discussions, this laminated placemat has a labeled U.S. political map on one side and a blank U.S. map on the other. Label states or chart a student’s road trip with any water-based markers (not included). Use this placemat at lunch or snack time or as a fun learning activity... Wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge. 17½ x 12 in."

About Montessori Services:
"Since 1976, Montessori Services has focused on bringing hard-to-find, child-size Practical Life materials into the classroom. Although our School Catalog focus has expanded to include materials across the curriculum, materials for the exercises of Practical Life remain our specialty.

"Founded in Pennsylvania by Jane Mills Campbell, an AMI-trained Primary Montessori teacher, the original Montessori Services School Catalog was created with a simple goal: make it easy and cost-effective to find the specialized items used in the Montessori classroom.

"In 2004 our family resource catalog was created at the request of Montessori teachers. For Small Hands gives parents access to many of the same child-size items children use at school, enabling children to participate in the home environment with the same ease and success they enjoy in the classroom.

"Jane’s 'kitchen table' business grew steadily, moving cross-country by school bus (yes, by school bus) to the Campbell’s California garage, from the garage to a small storefront, and eventually to our current location in downtown Santa Rosa, CA, about one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge. [They have a showroom if you live in the area!]"


Want to know my top 15 books for 2020 gift-giving!?  Visit my sister blog!

~Lisa Nolan

Top photo by edenpictures on Trends Hype / CC BY

Want my Montessori and homeschool activities? Check out my Montessori for birth- to nine-year-olds at [M o n t e s s o r i f o r t h e E a r t h].

If you click on my affiliate product links--and make a purchase, I get a small commission. This helps fund Montessori materials, activities, and books I can get for my special needs son. A big THANK YOU in advance of any purchases you make!~Lisa Nolan