Where to Find Realistic & Photographic Stickers for Montessori Work
Updated: Feb 2
Plus ideas for using stickers in a Montessori context!
The Hunt for Photographic Stickers
One Montessori principle that I'm often more hesitant about is an emphasis on realism. I love gnomes, unicorns, and all things fantasy. My toddler, however, proves Dr. Montessori's theories right in that she has a very clear preference for reality.
When she was one, we borrowed this book about hats from the library. We renewed it to the limit. One day, we even read it 17 times in a single sitting. Forget about thrilling fairy fairy tale plots. Pictures and stories that related to her real world experiences were everything.
I found this set of farm stickers at Knowledge Tree a few months later, and they were an instant win. Our family usually avoids rewards (as does the Montessori method), so I knew that these stickers wouldn't be used to that end.
Instead of motivation, they provided my toddler with fine motor work and language practice. Together we sat and named the photographs of the animals as she painstakingly peeled the stickers off the sheet and transferred them to a piece of paper. For a season, this was one of her favorite fine motor tasks. I would also set it out whenever I needed a few minutes of peace!
My toddler finished up those farm animal stickers months ago, but recently, I had an idea to make some DIY picture coins. Each coin would be decorated with an animal, vegetable, etc. I would then use these coins in matching activities and for language work, posting, and sensory play. (Yes, I realize that sensory bins aren't very Montessori. But they're a big learning tool in our home!)
My initial google search for stickers turned up loads of cartoony bugs, lions, etc. Cute, but not exactly useful for a child who is still developing their conceptual understanding of a beetle. After a bit of sleuthing, however, I finally compiled a list of realistic stickers for Montessori work!
6 Publishers that Sell Montessori Friendly Stickers
1. Carson Dellosa Education
Our very first set of photographic stickers from Knowledge Tree was created by Carson Dellosa Education. While they no longer seem to carry Farm Animals, they do offer photographic sets titled Fruits, Vegetables, Insects, and Animals of the Serengeti. Each pack contains several sheets, totaling 80-100 stickers a set. Because the sheets in each set are identical, these stickers are ideal for matching activities. Knowledge Tree offered the best prices by far at $2.50 a pack. I saw these same sets priced up to $7.50 elsewhere!
2. Priddy Books
In our home, another favorite library book has been Priddy Book's First 100 Words (non-sticker). Right before her language exploded, my child went through a phase of exclusively reading photographic "first word" books. Even at 2, First 100 Farm Words (non-sticker) book is a daily choice.
So, I was delighted to discover that Priddy has created sticker books that correspond to several of its photo books! 1000 Stickers, First 100 Animals Stickers, First 100 Trucks and Things that Go, and First Numbers, Colors, and Shapes Stickers are a few of the photographic sticker books they offer. Even better, each of these books contains over 500 stickers!
3. DK Publishing
Like Priddy, our love for DK started with a photo book from the library, My First Trucks (non-sticker), to be specific. After at least 30 read throughs, I can successfully label the parts of a fire engine. And, DK has produced dozens of sticker books that use real photos too! Things that Go is now on my toddler gift list, and the photos in their North American Birds sticker book are so beautiful that I want one for myself! Dinosaurs, Space, Jungle, Baby Animals, and Pets also feature photographic stickers.
4. Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel (the publishing branch) sells a few thematic sticker books with excellent photographs. Their collection includes Space, Pets, and Ocean. The stickers are reusable and each book includes over 400 stickers!
5. Eyelike Reusable Stickers
We really like these photographic (and reusable!!!) stickers from Eyelike!Like the Discovery Channel stickers, each Eyelike book contains over 400 stickers. They come in a wide variety of themes, including colors, seasons, and holidays like Christmas , Easter, and Halloween. Other themes include Trucks, Trains, Space, Pirates.
There are also several animal themed sets, including Animals, Wild Animals, On the Farm, Baby Animals, Bugs, Puppies, Kittens, and Horses! For children who are learning to read, there is a letter set (with pictures) designed to reinforce the alphabetic principle!
6. Dover Little Activity Books
These little sticker books by Dover are definitely nostalgic! We would receive them in our Christmas stockings and Easter baskets when I was little. While their sticker books are not photographic, they have offer many books with realistic pictures. Construction Truck Stickers, Glitter Hanukkah Stickers, and the Realistic Flower Stickers could all be good for building language through play.
How to Use Stickers in a Montessori Context
As mentioned above, our family doesn't use stickers as a reward, and neither do Montessori teachers. However, stickers can still serve several purposes in Montessori classroom or home.
Fine Motor Work
Create a simple tray with paper squares and a sheet of stickers. Toddlers will need to be shown how to remove the stickers from the sticker sheet, place them on the paper, and smooth them down. To make it easier for them to remove the stickers, you can peel off the "extra" sticker area surrounding the individual stickers.
Materials for Matching & Language
By placing the stickers on wooden coins (2"+ for littles) or cardstock cards, you can create a reusable material for matching activities and language skills. Toddlers may enjoy matching the apple coin to a real apple, or the lion card to a plastic lion figurine.
Older Children: Inquiry Driven Projects
As the are photographic or at least realistic, older children may wish to include these stickers in reports and research projects. In fact, a sticker book on Space or the Ocean may just inspire such an endeavor! While children should certainly be encouraged to produce their own artwork, these stickers may also augment their work.
The Case for Stickers
Stickers are a fantastic resource for strengthening the fingers and hand-eye coordination. Photographic stickers can also help children learn about the world around them and make connections between 2D images and their real-world counterparts. Realistic stickers also promote the use of specific vocabulary in adult-child conversations, which builds children's language skills. All and all, they are an affordable tool that can be used in any home or classroom!