Hi there! What’s the nitty-gritty with Montessori trays? Today we’re talking about the real deal — practical-use, multi-purpose, open-ended — wooden Montessori trays.
There are all kinds of other “Montessori-Inspired Trays” with numbers, letters, blocks, sand, sensory kits, decimal system, golden beads, and tons more!
Boy oh boy if there was an activity to put on a tray in front of a child — some creative mind out there has done it!
Why does Montessori use trays? Aren’t those creative, curious, and engaged minds the kind we’re trying to cultivate?
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Kids Montessori Trays 101: What to look for
Today we’re keeping it strictly to the real deal wooden Montessori tray — the same kind Montessori educators use in their classrooms.
There’s no need to buy more than you actually need — you know?
With proper supervision, there’s no minimum age. Yep — you can use a tray even with your newborn baby.
What really matters is what’s on the tray.
Montessori trays are just trays — with a flat surface, ready for all kinds of “tray-top activities”. Adding the tagline “Montessori” does come with some weight, however. Typically, they are made of natural wood and child-safe materials — and feature small-to-large tray sizes for different stages of your child’s growth or different activities you want to use it for.
A common misconception is that “Montessori” is all about the dings, whistles, doodads, gizmos, and other busy board-type playthings built into the board.
Nope — real Montessori trays are “Simple Does It” style.
I love those busy, fidgety, and educational kinds of toys — and I admit I call them “Montessori” too — but today it’s hats off to accredited Montessori professionals.
We’ll stick with what they call the real thing.
Top 5 Recommended Montessori Trays – Where to buy
For U.S. shoppers, Montessori trays are available on Amazon, Etsy, and several other smaller online shops. Teachers and daycare professionals can buy in bulk — saving cash by buying a set of trays together. Parents have the option to buy just one.
For another at-home Montessori environment essential — check out the best Montessori calendars we picked out.
(01) “Amazing Child Montessori” Beech Wood Tray (Single Tray)
If you just need one — here’s a single standard beechwood (at 11” by 7” inches).
It’s the ideal wooden Montessori kids tray for games, worksheets, snacks, and more.
The side handles and frame are made with beech wood — and the base board with plywood. Since the handles are perforations through the wooden frame itself — it looks super comfy to grab — even for breakfast in bed.
If you like this style — it’s available in mini tray size too (at a teeny tiny 6.5” by 4” inches).
Overall Amazing Child Montessori is a children’s brand with a great selection — and when on the lookout for other kinds of trays, I recommend their complete selection.
Most different trays they offer are available to buy just one — which may be all you need if you just have one child.
(02) “Wooden Living” Square Montessori Tray (4- or 6-Pack)
When you’ve got multiple kids to shop for — save time and money with a wooden tray multi-pack (10.5” or 12” inch square).
“Wooden Living” brand believes in “creation through collaboration” — providing families and teachers with sustainable Montessori materials.
Specializing in lightweight wooden equipment for at-home activities like DIY, crafts, or just for decorating your home.
This square wooden tray is available in two sizes — 10.5” or 12” inch square. And available in packs of 4-pack or 6-pack.
Getting multi-packs of kids trays makes a lot of sense when you have multiple kids you’re looking after — plus having a set of identical trays opens up other nice benefits too.
Since these trays are square, you can stack them up for easy multi-level storage. Organizing thingamajigs into your trays, then packing all the trays away together? I like the sound of that!
(03) Vumdua Multi-Size Wooden Nested Trays (5-Pack)
“Nested” means the trays can stack inside each other — using far less storage space than any other tray set.
“Nested” trays mean each piece fits into the next. It’s the same concept as Russian Dolls — the smallest tray fits inside the next smallest tray — until you’ve got the complete set of 5 trays neatly nested together.
Space-saver pro tip! When packed up nice and compact like that — storing 5 trays takes up the same amount of space as storing just 1 tray.
The largest rectangular tray is a massive ≈16” by ≈10” inches — and the smallest ≈13” by ≈7” inches.
A full 16” inches? Compared to other models — that’s one large wooden Montessori tray!
You just can’t count the number of things a “5 DIfferent Size Tray Set” like this can help you do on one hand. Use it as a serving tray for kids or adults — meals, holiday treats, candy on Halloween? Use it as a crafts tray — scribbling in coloring books, or molding out a play dough creation.
Having all the different sizes to choose from — means you’re much more likely to have the perfect size for whatever you want to achieve.
(04) Tinkerful Montessori Wooden Sorting Tray (Single Tray)
The best tray with independent sections for small parts play, counting little pieces, organizing tiny craft materials.
Other trays we’ve looked at have a complete-sly smooth tray surface. This one’s different.
Just 10” by 6” design includes ≈3” sorting boxes with prominent dividers in between.
The 6 tray sections are intended for playing, counting, placeholding, and organizing — anything you want as long as it is teeny tiny.
Ideal materials to keep in the little wooden tray pocket include — beads, blocks, puzzle pieces, leaves & stones, and all sorts of magical kids’ miniatures.
Honestly, this one reminds me of the traditional East African wooden board game Mancala. If you adjust Mancala’s rules just a tiny bit — you could use Tinkerful’s tray to play!
(05) Woodpeckers Wood Activity Trays With Metal Handles (1-10 Sets)
A set of 3 nested trays for efficient storage — plus durable metal handles for easy transport from room to room.
We’ve talked about why nesting Montessori trays are so great already. They save tons of space and offer a variety of sizes for you to mix and match whatever activity you want!
Need a surface for your homeschool biology project? Need a container to keep your building blocks all in one place? Need to serve Mommy and Daddy a surprise Sunday morning breakfast in bed? (The surprise is it’s made of play dough!)
Metal vs wooden tray handles — which is best? You’ll notice Woodpeckers brand’s metal handles — that’s different than the “handles carved out of the wood” we’ve seen so far.
Visually, I prefer the solid wood tray. Theoretically, the metal handle creates a more balanced and centered tray. When your child’s carrying messy play materials — or “Uh-Oh Spaghetti” — that could mean the difference between a fun family experience and a stain on the carpet.
Woodpeckers might just offer the best bulk deal of the bunch. They sell by the “set of 3” and with just one click you can buy up to 10 sets — that’s 30 classroom-ready Montessori trays quick-and-easy.