The Pioneer play kit from Lovevery has one of our all-time favorite toys in it – the wooden stacking pegboard! I’m so excited to see if I can find good Amazon alternatives for this kit.
The Pioneer play kit is designed for months 16, 17, and 18 and costs $120. Can we recreate this play kit on Amazon for less? Let’s find out!
Looking for other ages? Check out Lovevery Amazon Alternatives for Every Play Kit.
Race and Chase Ramp
The Race and Chase Ramp toy is a really popular Montessori-style toy. Montessori Services has a near-identical alternative ($31.95), but in the spirit of keeping these alternatives strictly from Amazon, I did find a good option.
This race track car ramp ($24.99) has over 11,000 positive reviews with about 4.5 stars. While parts of it are made of wood, the ramp part is plastic, unlike Lovevery.
I think, overall, this is a great alternative for the Race and Chase Ramp!
Community Garden Puzzle
One thing I love about the Lovevery subscription is the puzzle progression. The first puzzle is super simple – just one piece to master. Over the months, the puzzles get a little more challenging, leading up to this 5-piece community garden puzzle.
While it’s only 5 pieces, each element looks somewhat similar, and my son is currently figuring out how to fit them in the right way. He often gets them upside down or matches up the wrong piece to the base. It’s a great challenge!
There’s no perfect alternative for the community garden puzzle on Amazon, but I did find a garden-themed puzzle with a similar difficulty level for $12.99.
‘Max and Nana Go to the Park’ Board Book
Lovevery board books are very Montessori-aligned, showing real-life people in realistic scenarios. Many of the books prep your child for something they’ll face in life, such as a birthday party or a doctor’s visit.
This book is no exception, as it takes your child through a story of going to the park.
Finding board books for kids that aren’t illustrated is challenging enough – finding one featuring a story of a child going to a park is near impossible.
I found the board book Off to the Park! By Stephen Cheetham ($14.99). It goes through a similar storyline, and while it is illustrated, I think it accomplishes the same goal. It also includes some tactile elements, which are unique, like Braille-style numbering, play elements, and high-contrast images.
Threadable Bead Kit
Threading is a great activity to practice fine motor skills. The threadable bead kit is a relatively new addition to this play kit – I believe it was added in 2021.
I found two good Amazon alternatives – one is from Melissa & Doug and the other is from MindWare. The Melissa & Doug version features brighter colors, has over 12,000 positive reviews, and costs just over $12 (at the time of this writing).
The other option from MindWare has more of the classic Lovevery aesthetics, but it only has 81 reviews and costs closer to $20.
Sometimes, with less popular toys, they go out of stock or disappear from the Amazon marketplace. That’s why I wanted to give two options – Melissa & Doug products are so popular, I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon!
The drawstring bag in this Lovevery play kit is meant to contain the threadable bead kit. If you purchase either of the alternatives listed above, you don’t need to buy a separate drawstring bag. The MindWare version comes with one, and the Melissa & Doug set uses a wooden tray to keep them organized.
Wooden Stacking Peg Board
This wooden stacking peg board is way up there as one of our all-time favorite Lovevery toys, and we’ve accumulated over a dozen of these play kits over the last 3 years.
It is SO fun, and not just for months 16-18. My son is 21 months now and will spend a half-hour with this toy at a time, and my 3-year-old loves playing with it, too.
In fact, I saw it show up in my Lovevery subscriber shop once, and I snagged it to give to a friend. It’s the perfect toy!
I could not find a good Amazon alternative for this one, and I honestly think it might be worth getting the whole kit just for this toy!
There is a plastic version available from Play Brainy ($13.85). The base is unfortunately foam, which won’t stand the test of time.
You just can’t beat classic Montessori toys that are wooden and will last.
Fuzzy Bug Shrub
The fuzzy bug shrub is another recent addition to the Pioneer play kit. It didn’t come with this kit when we got it, but it looks really fun! Kids love velcro, and the ability to hide the critters in the shrub adds another element of play. As a mom, I also appreciate that it serves as a storage place for the pieces. 🙂
The closest Amazon alternative I found is a Montessori counting toy featuring ladybugs ($34.99). While the ladybugs don’t velcro to the container, the little flowers do, and you can still hide the ladybugs in the pouch. The counting component is also nice and extends the life of this toy. You could introduce this at 16 months and still use it for learning purposes until after age 3.
I’m a big fan of this alternative!
Lovevery vs Amazon Price Comparison
The Pioneer play kit features 1 board book and, essentially, 5 toys. They are all aligned with Montessori principles and support a 16-18-month-old’s development.
The kit costs $120. How do the Amazon alternatives compare?
- Race and Chase Ramp alternative: $24.99
- Community Garden Puzzle alternative: $12.99
- ‘Max and Nana go the Park’ alternative: $14.99
- Threadable Bead Kit alternative: $19.95 (from MindWare)
- Drawstring Bag: not needed (comes with threadable bead kits on Amazon)
- Wooden Stacking Peg Board alternative: $13.85 (but not even close to the quality and longevity, I have to add)
- Fuzzy Bug Shrub alternative: $34.99
The total cost to try to recreate the Pioneer play kit on Amazon is $121.76, or about the same cost as the Lovevery kit.
The quality of some of the Amazon toys does not even come close to comparing to the Lovevery version, so I think going with the Lovevery kit is a slam dunk!!
The wood is sustainably sourced, the toys will last you a lifetime, and you get the Play Guide which has tips about developmental milestones, how to use the toys, and more activities you can do at home.
The Pioneer Play Kit for Months 16, 17, and 18 is a fun play kit with some stand-out toys. The wooden stacking peg board is a family favorite here, and the race ramp is another very popular toy seen in many homes and Montessori playrooms.
The total cost of recreating the Pioneer play kit on Amazon is about the same cost as buying from Lovevery. I’d say go for the Lovevery kit for the better quality and the matching aesthetics of all the toys.
If you only want a few toys and not the whole kit, the best Amazon options are the fuzzy bug shrub alternative, the threadable bead kit alternative, and the race and chase champ alternative.