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Top 10 Fun Montessori Play Silks Activity Ideas

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Ready for some fun, Montessori-aligned play silks activities? Play silks are one of the few toys that’s good for children of all ages, so you’ll find activity ideas here for babies through around age 6.

Here are 10 of my favorite play silk activity ideas, ideal for a Montessori home.

holding up rainbow play silks

Disclaimer: Sarah’s Silks gifted me two sets of the rainbow playsilks. One for me to use and another to gift to a reader. Our family has used playsilks for years, but I am very grateful for these new ones that are oh-so-photogenic!

red color matching
Color matching game with play silks

What makes play silks Montessori?

Play silks are inherently open-ended, making them the perfect toy for a Montessori home. They encourage kids to explore, get creative, and think independently.

side view of rainbow play silks collection

Manipulating the actual silks is also fantastic for fine motor skills development and STEM learning.

Play silks are made of silk, a natural material. Most Montessori toys strive to be made of natural materials, like wood, stainless steel, or cotton.

Battery-operated toys and cheap plastic? We don’t know her.

Because play silks are so open-ended, it can be intimidating to think of activity ideas. (Though, give your toddler the silks, and I bet they’ll come up with some very unique activities on their own!)

vertical stack of play silks with couch in bg

To get the inspiration flowing, I’ve rounded up 10 of my favorite Montessori play silks activities. From the classic tissue box activity to Montessori touch fabrics, there’s a little bit of everything here.

Which play silks are the best?

Sarah’s Silks is a family-owned business that makes play silks out of 100% mulberry silk.

another stack of rainbow play silks

Sarah’s Silks are hands-down the best play silks on the market. The edges are hand-hemmed, and the dyes are non-toxic.

Plus, silk is a natural fiber that breaks down easily and returns to the soil, making this a sustainable choice. They’re soft, super vibrant, and long-lasting.

You can easily see the difference between Sarah’s Silks and cheap options from Amazon.

Made In China, Explained

Sarah’s Silks play silks are made in Suzhou, China and Nanchong, China. If you’re anything like me, you just went: really… China?

But silk making is an ancient tradition that is indigenous to China. In fact, one of Nanchong’s primary agricultural products is silk worms. Sarah’s Silks seems to have taken great care in selecting family farms and family-run businesses.

sides of sarahs silks packaging

Sarah’s Silks ensures the factories they use issue fair wages and quality working conditions.

Alright, on to the play silks activity ideas!

1. Tissue Box or Shape Sorter Play

One of our favorite toys from the Lovevery play kits is the Magic Tissue Box.

Related: Our 5-Year Lovevery Play Kits Journey: 2024 Review

It teaches:

  • Containment: the concept of a thing fitting inside another thing
  • Object permanence: the concept that even if a thing disappears, it still exists
  • Tactile exploration: learning about the world through touch receptors in the fingertips

You can do so many things with a tissue box like this, including peekaboo, taking turns, and encouraging your baby to reach and development their muscles during tummy time.

montessori play silks tissue box or shape matching pull game

You can recreate your own Magic Tissue Box using Sarah’s Silks playsilks. You can use an empty tissue box, baby wipes pack, or any cardboard box with a hole cut into the top. You can even use any shape sorter toys you have!

Stuff the play silks inside and watch the magic as your baby or toddler explores!

2. Teaching Rhythm

Before COVID, I took my daughter to a Kindermusik class, and I loved the activities they did with play silks.

We waved the play silks through the air to better understand staccato and legato. And let me tell you – those toddlers went wild when it was staccato time!

rhythym game with playsilks

The visual representation of the play silks moving through the air was a great way to better understand how rhythm works.

having so much fun with playsilks

3. Building Landscapes

The multi-colored play silks are perfect for world-building and imaginative play. We can use blocks or magnetic tiles to create forts, houses, roads – whatever the little ones can dream of!

building a scene with playsilks

Then, you can add in the play silks to act as grass, water, fire, hay – again, whatever their imagination can come up with.

blue playsilk as water

Related: 33 Creative Magnetic Tiles Ideas – Magna-Tiles Fun!

4. Peek a Boo

Sarah’s Silks are perfect for playing peek-a-boo with babies. One of my favorite activities when my kids were tiny was placing a muslin blanket over them and waiting for them to gleefully grab it and reveal their faces.

They loved the challenge, and those giggles were the best part, though it was nice knowing they were perfecting their hand-eye coordination. But I would’ve preferred to use Sarah’s Silks as they’re a bit more see-through.

peek a boo with playsilks

There were moments when my little ones were frustrated and then perhaps a little scared when they couldn’t get the blanket out of the way fast enough. Of course, I helped them, but I think the transparency of the silks would’ve stopped them and encouraged them to see the activity all the way through.

5. Sensory Bin Base

When I think of sensory bins, I usually think of dyed rice or kinetic sand, but you can also use play silks as a base.

sensory bin with play silks

They’re a new texture to explore, and you can hide little objects throughout the layers for little hands to explore. Sensory play is wonderful for development, and the activity is super flexible.

Speaking of bases, Sarah’s Silks also make the perfect zero-waste base for Easter baskets.

Related: 22 Classic Montessori Activity Ideas for Your Toddler

6. Color Matching

The rainbow play silks are great for practicing colors. First, you can hold up one of the silks and say the name of the color out loud.

Then, you can extend the activity by doing some color matching with other objects you have in your home.

As an example, you might put a red fire truck on the red play silk and a green block on the green play silk.

I like to gather up a handful of different-colored objects around the house. Then, I let my little guy practice sorting the colors onto the same-colored play silk.

color matching game

It may seem like a stretch, but this is actually setting the foundation for skills in mathematics! It’s also really great for developing concentration, which we all need a little more of in this world of screens.

Further Reading: Lovevery Montessori Toy Shelf Review: Worth It vs Dupes?

7. Play The Floor Is Lava

Activities like the floor is lava show just how versatile play silks can be.

Lay the play silks out on the ground with a little space between each one. Have your child jump from one silk to the next for a fun game of the floor is lava.

playing floor is lava

I much prefer this to my kids jumping from one piece of furniture to the next… cue broken bones…

And yes, this play silks activity idea is so good for development. According to First 5 California, this game helps develop gross motor skills, sensory skills, social-emotional skills, and language development skills.

8. Make Bubbles In the Water

My kids have always been obsessed with water play, no matter what the actual activity is. And believe it or not, play silks are so much fun in the bathtub.

When you drape the silks over the water, they’ll form bubbles, and I think we all know how obsessed toddlers are with bubbles.

But it can be even simpler than that – just getting the silks wet and squeezing them dry is a fun activity for babies and toddlers.

And even simpler yet: the play silks can make the water look like it’s changing colors without any chemicals or dyes.

9. Playing Dress-Up

Perhaps one of the most popular ways to play with play silks – and to spark your child’s imagination – is dress-up.

Play silks can become capes, hair ties or ribbons, skirts, butterfly wings, magic carpets, and anything else your child can imagine.

superhero with playsilks dress up

Perhaps they’ll turn into a pirate, a princess, or perhaps a doctor who is using one of the silks to create a sling for a broken baby doll arm.

Related: The Best Princess Birthday Party Ideas (Disney Theme)

Note: A common misconception about Montessori is that it's anti-imagination. That's not really the case – Montessori encourages imagination based on reality. Young kids' brains can't really differentiate between reality and fantasy, which is why Montessori books typically feature photos of real kids in the world rather than illustrations.

That said, using the imagination is still great, as is offering play silks and kids deciding to use them to play dress-up. 

Maria Montessori said it best: "Imagination really does not enter into the problem, because in telling fairy tales it is we (the adult) who do the imagining. The child only listens."

Let the child lead!

10. Montessori Touch Fabric Activity

A classic Montessori activity that’s great for sensory exploration is Touch Fabrics, ideal for ages 3-6.

In the most traditional sense, you take a wooden box and put 12 fabric swatches inside. You want 6 types of fabric in total – one pair of each kind.

touching the silky play silks

The fabric swatches are supposed to be the same size, and you want natural materials like silk, cotton, velvet, leather, wool, denim, or chenille.

The Global Montessori Network explains how to do this activity best:

  1. Invite the child to carry the box of Touch Fabrics to the working mat.
  2. Open the box and keep the lid at the bottom of the box.
  3. Now, ask the child to pick one fabric from the box and feel it while closing their eyes. 
  4. Ask them to describe what they feel.
  5. Ask them to place the fabric on the working mat.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5.
  7. Remove the matching smooth square from the box and allow the child to feel it. Ask the child if they felt this texture before.
  8. Let the child answer yes. Now, ask the child which fabric is the same as the one you are holding.
  9. Place the matching fabrics together based on their texture.
  10. Now ask the child to repeat steps 3 to 9 until they make all the 6 pairs.
  11. Allow them to open their eyes and cross-check the pairing.

You can do a pared-down version of this activity with your child using the play silks.

Look for any other scraps of fabric you can find around the house. Alternatively, you don’t have to use a box at all. Grab a pair of jeans, velvet dress, leather jacket, soft blanket – whatever you have.

Have your child explain how each one feels and explore the different textures and materials. It’s a great sensorial lesson!

10 ideas to keep babies and toddlers busy with play silks


Play silks are incredibly versatile, making them the perfect addition to a Montessori playroom.

edges of sarahs rainbow play silks

You’d be surprised what kinds of activities will think of when you give them a simple tray full of play silks.

Related: The Best Open-Ended Toys for Christmas Gifting

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