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Puzzles, Games and Activities for Toddlers

Gareth enjoys playing the “Montessori apps” (and more here) that I downloaded for him onto the iPad and iPhone. However, given the fact that he seems so addicted to anything with a screen (TV, computer and iPad/iPhone), I have been keen to increase the repertoire of other activities that do not involve a screen to engage him with.

Since Gareth really enjoys the Montessori activities he has been doing in class and he likes taking his brother’s Fun Thinkers grid and rearranging the number tiles, I figured it was time to get some real Montessori activities for him. The only Montessori activities I could think of were the Melissa & Doug wooden toys which are sometimes sold at Toys ‘R’ Us. So I went to check them out but the range available is rather limited. I don’t suppose anyone has noticed any of these Melissa & Doug toys selling locally?

Melissa & Doug Bead Sequencing Set

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

I was also looking for the Montessori Hundred Board:

I found several retailers online for this. It retails on Amazon for US$25.99. It is available on My Montessori Materials for US$45. Bambini Montessori retails it for US$29.

While I was looking through Toys ‘R’ Us for suitable Montessori activities for Gareth, it occurred to me that we could use other games with modified rules to create activities for our younger children. For example, you could use Scrabble to play random word games (if you get the travel set you can also play it in the car).

Gareth loves playing with letters. We bought him a magnetic alphabet set but you have to buy several sets to get enough letters to make up a few words at a time (we can’t even make up his full name with one set). The other problem with the magnetic letters is that he likes to swipe them off the fridge which then leaves marks on the fridge door. The advantage of getting a scrabble set is that when your children are old enough, they will be able to play the game so you can still continue using it.

For number games, dominioes or Rummy Kub can double up for additional activities. You can match the colours or the numbers, or make consequetive running sets with the Rummy Kub tiles.

Then there is Connect Four by Milton Bradley who now has a four player version which can double up as a colour matching activity. You can also use it to make patterns with colours as a creative activity.

The only thing you need to be wary of with these games are the small bits that can be put in mouths – so not ideal for children under 3 years. However, if you or another responsible person is around to monitor them while they play, then these can be excellent materials for activities for young children. Not to mention that once the children are old enough, they can play these games the way they were intended so you get more mileage out of them.

What games (that do not involve a screen) do you use to entertain your younger child?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

7 thoughts on “Puzzles, Games and Activities for Toddlers

  1. You may buy bananagrams, with approximately 150 title, costs RM80, if not mistaken, the only setback is perhaps this is a bit small for him, it could be choking hazard.


    1. I bought the word version of Rummy Kub which has about 120 tiles, I think. They are also much bigger so probably slightly better for Gareth. Although he is getting better with keeping things out of his mouth. Still I will make sure he’s supervised…

      Bananagrams looks like scrabble without the board and with more tiles…


  2. ThinkToys branches in KL now sell a huge collection of Melissa & Doug toys, including the puzzle board.

    Mothercare ELC toys section at BSC and KLCC (new flagship store) carry a smaller collection.


  3. Hi, if you are interested in montessori materials, you can check out this shop located in Summit, USJ. They also have a website:

    The materials sold are mostly local/China, quality wise they do not compare at all to Melissa and Doug but they have tangrams and beads that are similiar to those above. The shop was actually recommended by a teacher from a right brain school 🙂


    1. Thanks Jessica. Had a look through the site and they have some interesting products. It has been a while since I was last at Summit – will have to make a trip there some time. I was keen on getting the Hundred board for Gareth who seems to really like the one they have on the iPad.


  4. shen,
    i have the m&d pattern blocks which was bought at mothercare, bsc 2 weeks back. it was rm70+ after discount. i will be selling it for half price next month when tristan gets bored of it 🙂


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