Montessori Trays

Montessori-inspired materials are popular because of their simplicity and the specific purpose they fulfill. Montessori’s philosophy promotes child-led activities and allows them to learn without interference.

When you get a chance to visit any Montessori School, you may see how things are organized and stored in Montessori trays. Montessori trays are essential for many different purposes in Montessori.

Are you looking for material to help transport several objects from one place to another?

Montessori trays are a perfect fit for any Montessori.

So, what are Montessori trays, and why are they important? Let us dig deep to know more.

What are Montessori trays?

Montessori trays are storage spaces for materials used for practical life activities and provide a clutter-free space to organize things. They are perfect for tiny hands making toys and crafts accessible for them.

Montessori trays are real-life objects and not toys. They can add value to your child’s toy collection.

How are Montessori trays helpful?

If you want to incorporate Montessori materials in your child’s play, Montessori trays are an ideal multipurpose choice. They are helpful in many ways.

  • They foster independence
    Children can select activities independently and carry the activities and toys in a tray from a shelf to a rug or table to do their work. They learn to take ownership of their play space and develop independent thinking.
  • Instill order
    They inculcate the values of order and structure into the environment of children.
    As the activities are organized and presented to a child, they know how things are stored and put them back neatly.
  • They develop concentration and balance
    As children carry their activities and toys in the Montessori trays to the play area, they develop gross motor skills.
    While carrying the tray from the shelf, they need to balance the materials and concentrate on the tray.
  • Remove distractions
    A tray enables children to focus on the activity by setting up toys and activities that help them explore, interact and play with the materials rather than getting distracted by arranging pieces and putting them together.
  • They allow classifying activities
    By using Montessori trays children learn to classify similar things. It develops sensory experience and learning which is a crucial lesson in the Montessori method of education. The organized trays help develop an understanding of the relationship between objects and are grouped in different ways.
  • They provide clutter-free and focused play
    Children learn to isolate or classify similar activities as these trays provide clutter-free, fewer tasks, and projects for purposeful and focused play. Children are engaged when they are interested and revisit the same tray and work over it.

Different activities with Montessori trays

Are you aware you can engage your child with endless activities using a Montessori tray?

Some of them are suggested here for you.

1. Cut and paste

Cut-and-paste trays are examples of Montessori trays. You can customize them with jars of glue and brushes and various materials for pasting onto clean paper.

Stationeries like stencils, scissors, and pencils can be curated to create a cutting station so that your child can explore.

2. Sorting

Children can have fun playing different sorting games and activities using Montessori trays. They can sort buttons or balls by size or color in a sorting tray.

You can further customize and set up your tray to have different kitchen items like small bowls, spoons, and dishes and incorporate small tongs or tweezers to develop fine motor skills.

The Mancala board can serve as a Montessori tray for sorting. It is simple, affordable, has two sorting trays, and is wooden. If you unscrew the hinge between the two boards, you can get two sorting trays.

The compartments of the trays have rounded circular bottoms, which makes it convenient to pick up any objects in the trays. Sorting games are great sensory activities for children.

You can have materials like coins, pasta, beans, and grains for sorting as it helps children distinguish shapes and sizes. It helps them refine their stereogenic sense (the sense to recognize size and shapes through touch).

Learn more about Montessori Sorting Activities:

3. Practical life activities

You can implement limitless ideas using Montessori trays. Activities with different kinds of beads and strings are done using these trays.

These activities enhance critical thinking skills and develop independence while learning life skills.

Learn Montessori Practical Life Activities:

4. Salt tracing and making shapes in the sand

You can use any old carton available at home as a tray.

Color some salt by using food coloring and putting them in a ziplock bag. Give the salt a good shake, and you get colored salt.

Cover the inside of the box with plain white A4 size paper and glue.

Secure the border of the box with transparent tape. And your tray is ready.

You can guide your child to write letters and numbers on the salt with your fingers. Later they can use a stick or pencil to trace the salt.

You can also use sand in the tray and ask the children to dig in and mold the sand into different shapes keeping it in the Montessori tray.

These are great for sensory experiences.

5. Three-part cards

This activity in Montessori is also called Nomenclature Cards or Classified Cards.

The control cards (cards with pictures and a label) are laid down first. Then, the picture cards are matched to the control cards. The labels are then matched with the pictures.

These cards are the foundation for reading, writing, classification, and art in Montessori. Children learn to build vocabulary and develop language skills and visual skills. They are also suitable for the mental ability of children.


  1. Place the cards on the Montessori tray and ask the child to bring them to the mat.
  2. Place all of the control cards (the cards with the pictures and labels) and line them up along the left side of the mat. You can use two columns if more cards are there.
  3. Taking the top picture card, compare it to the first control card. If it matches, leave the card there. Otherwise, continue comparing it to the other control cards until you find a match.

Learn more about Montessori 3-Part cards:

Where can you buy Montessori trays?

When you introduce Montessori trays to your children, you can use any tray at home. When children become more creative and are ready to explore further, you may need trays with different variations.

Here are some online stores where you can get a variety of trays.

Amazon has an array of Montessori trays of different sizes that support many Montessori activities.

Montessori Services – They also have a good collection of Montessori trays from which you can choose the one appropriate for your child.

You can also check online options like Montessori N’ Such, Alison’s Montessori, and Montessori 123.

Creating DIY Montessori Trays

You can DIY trays at home. Here are a few tips that will be helpful.

  •  Using natural materials like wood to build the tray will make it ideal Montessori friendly. Children need to play with eco-friendly materials to be close to nature.
  • The size of your tray must be appropriate for your child to carry the tray themselves.
  • The tray must be shallow so that the items are displayed.

Final Thoughts

The child must learn to carry the Montessori tray appropriately. With practice and guidance, children can learn to carry the tray activity perfectly.

By carrying a tray full of items, children develop cognitive skills and can control their body movements. It helps them interact respectfully with their peers and everyone around them.

Montessori trays encourage independent play and are a perfect addition to your child’s playroom or in any room to facilitate carrying multiple objects.

They can be customized as per your needs and make play fun for the children and a clutter-free home for you.

See also: