Category Archives: Play Area/Toys

Setting up a Montessori Play Area, Toys

Foto Friday: Last Day of Parent/Infant Class

Remember back in January how Christie shared with us that R. and P. had started attending Parent/Infant Class at Aid to Life Education?  See how these boys have grown since then!  They recently attended their last day in the Infant room.

 

P. and R. sit down on the bench upon arrival to remove shoes and socks.  Aid to Life Education - Parent/Child Class Dad watches over R. as he uses the Peg Box. Montessori Peg Box Christie/Mom watches P. as he uses the crayons. Montessori Toddler Crayons           R. enjoys a snack at the end of class. Montessori Placemat and Toddler Self-Feeding      Time to go home.  P. puts on socks and shoes with some assistance. Montessori Toddler Independence

It is time for R. and P. to move up to the Toddler Room!  I’m sure Mom and Dad will continue having fun during these Parent/Toddler classes.

 

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Christie, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships

Foto Friday: Flashback

Flashback!  A. enjoying her 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Materials

It’s not too late!  Enter to WIN your own 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Materials!  Celebrate the 1 Year Anniversary of our blog!

1 Month: Bell Rattle  BELL RATTLE_crop3 Months: Small Grasping Beads small grasping beads4 Months: Interlocking Discs  interlocking discs5 Months: Ball Cylinder  ball cylinder6 Months: Bell Cylinder  bell cylinder

 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Foto Friday, Play Area/Toys

Happy 1st Anniversary! Beginning Montessori Giveaway!

We’ve just about reached the end of our 1st Anniversary of Blogging Celebration.  It has been such a joy to share with you our favourite Montessori resources and products.  It has been a lot of fun reading your responses as you explore Montessori further.  And our readership continues to grow!  Thank you for following our blog!  Thank you for sharing our blog with others!  If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of The Joyful Child up on our blog until Tuesday, September 16 at 11:59PST.

Beginning Montessori
As our 6th and final giveaway we are offering up a Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori!  This pack makes the perfect set of toys to get started with Montessori.  I am a little biased about these toys as my husband makes them.  This company was born right out of my AtoI Montessori training.  As the course transformed me and how I saw infants, purchasing baby shower gifts became increasingly difficult.  During our training we made many materials and I asked my husband to help me make the bell rattle.  We had leftover dowel so my husband asked if any of the other women from my course would like a bell rattle.  Well, the orders flew in!  My husband then came to the training centre and checked out the materials telling me he could make many of the items.  He was just as excited as I was!  He grew up around wood crafting as his parents made wooden toys and he’s had lots of advice along the way as we developed our products.  With his ability to make the toys and my Montessori trained eye for detail, with special attention for how it would aid a young child’s development, we developed our product line to include:

    interlocking discs2    ball cylinder2

Amongst other materials which you can check out on our website.  Since we’ve observed our daughter A. use these toys, we’ve tweaked a couple of them but most were already perfect.  It has been such a joy for me to see A. use these materials!  It has been such a joy for me to see all of the Montessori Moms babies use these toys!  (From top to bottom you can see Christie’s sons R. and P.. my daughter A. with the interlocking discs, and Tomoko’s daughters M. and E.)  It continues to be such a joy for me to see many, many babies enjoy these toys.  I know at a deeper level how much the child is gaining through their usage of these toys so it just delights me!  You can read a short description of each material on the website and in addition, each toy comes with a product card describing the purpose and usage of each toy.  If you’re looking for cleaning information, please check our facebook page note on cleaning our materials.

This Five Pack of Montessori Baby Toys was designed to be a perfect baby shower or first gift for the child.  The cost of the five pack is $48 and the giveaway includes free, international shipping.  A few of the toys can start to be enjoyed within the first months of the child’s life.  They will aid the child’s development, and continue to be enjoyed, throughout the child’s first year.  These toys will also last for multiple children and in infant communities.  They are great quality and beautifully made.  They make great teething toys and you can be sure they are safe to be mouthed on by an infant as they are hand-made with natural materials.  We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

1 Year Anniversary - Beginning MontessoriTo enter leave a comment on our blog telling us: What is your favourite post from the Montessori Moms Blog from our First Year of Blogging?  Then click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a form using the link.  It still works!)

The giveaway will close on Monday, September 22 at 11:59PST.  Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!  The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Crystal G. on winning the 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Toys!

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys

What’s on our Play Shelf at 13 Months?

At 13 months we have had a big shift in interest and R and P are loving the new activities I have put out for them.

R and P 13 months 1

Here is our play area – no more movement mat and mirror (since about 10 months):

R and P 2

Stacking Rings/Cubes:
I first introduced these activities many months ago with the series of ring stackers I have from Beginning Montessori Materials. They worked for months on just taking the rings off, then finally figured out how to put them back on. Around a year, their hand-eye coordination seemed to improve dramatically and all of a sudden they were able to work with more challenging wooden rings and cubes and take them off AND put them on.

R and P 3

Puzzles:
I have the shape puzzles out and they are just starting to get interested in them (as well as other simple ones that are small in size and have larger knobs).

R and P 4

Push Balls:
There is a fantastic one by Sapienza that I have in my classroom and it is honestly one of the children’s favourite activities for years. I tried to find one similar locally and settled on the Melissa and Doug 4 ball tower and took away the hammer. I wanted the boys to learn to exert effort with the strength of their own hand and showed them how to push the balls through.

R and P 5

Slotted Box with Chips:
I had an old box from Michaels Craft Store that I made into a make-shift slotted box by pulling off one of the wooden slabs and they love it. I also got the wooden chips from Michaels, and have 3 circular ones and 3 square ones. Similar to the other activities, I do always show the boys how to do the activity first and then invite them to have a turn. This is a great one for repetition and object permanence.

R and P 6

Mail Box:
I have the Nienhuis one in my classroom and again, wanted to find one locally for my boys at home. I settled on the Hape three shape sorter as I wanted it to be not too overwhelming with too many shapes, as well as I wanted them to be successful getting them out by themselves. I wished the lid had a hinge but they figured out how to take it off, take out a shape (seem to only take one out at a time), put back the lid and then attempt to put the shape in. If I am sitting with them I remove the lid, take out all the shapes, and then put the lid back on for them.

R and P 7

Opening and Closing Containers:
Another favourite! I collect bottles always when I am on vacation from hotels, etc., then wash them out and use them in my classroom and now at home. I put together a collection of about 10 different ones (also use the travel containers you can buy at any local drugstore) in a basket and show how to ‘turn’ the lids on and off. They definitely love this one (haven’t quite figured out how to turn their wrists yet) but once the lid is off, like putting it on and off.

R and P 8

Basket of Animals:
Since R and P seem to be craving language and want to know the names of EVERYTHING, this basket seems like a necessary activity. The difference in this is that when we introduce language objects, an adult always should be present to offer the child the right names. So it is very much an adult directed activity (naming each animal, letting them hold it, and then asking for certain ones “Where is the duck?”). This also has been a great activity as they love to take things out and put things in baskets/cupboards/drawers/etc. so we always put the animals back in the basket when done.

R and P 9

Basket of Balls:
This basket is a saviour! Not only are they loving to throw and chase after these balls, but it gives them an outlet as they love to throw. Their mind is now telling them, I can control my body. I know how to grasp, pick up, etc and now I want to exert my effort. In the beginning they don’t know the boundaries of what is ok to throw and what isn’t, so this is where we need to be the positive role model. Many times a day I say things such as, “The bottle is not for throwing. We throw the balls.” And then I pass them a ball to throw. I am not joking that the last time I said that, P went HIMSELF to the basket, picked up his own ball, threw it, then smiled at me! They understand SO much without being able to speak and we must remember this.

Books:
We cannot forget the books! The boys LOVE their basket of books (which I rotate every few weeks) and choose to look at these often. They take one from the basket, put it in front of them and know how to flip through the pages. The majority of the time they will pick up a book at pass it to me with an “aadddaa?” Meaning, read this to me please?

R and P 10

We have another collection of more ‘story-type’ books in their bedroom that we read before naptime and bedtime (both R and P get to pick one that he would like me to read).

R and P 11

What’s on your play shelf that your child really enjoys right now?

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys

First Day of School for R and P

By Christie

Happy New Year!

It feels like forever since I have shared what has been going on with R and P as we have been extremely busy with travel, illness, work, visitors, etc., but I am happy to take the time and let you know about a very exciting thing that happened a couple weeks ago…..R and P started school!

Although I spend every day either incorporating Montessori methods at home with my twins or running Parent-Child classes for others, this is the first time my two worlds came together.

When I started Aid to Life Education 4 years ago, I knew that I wanted to offer something different.  I chose to walk away from teaching Montessori in the traditional sense and create a program that is in need – to work with parents and their babies.  The first few years (especially the first year) in raising a child is overwhelming to say the least.  And I wanted to create an environment to support moms during this time, while aiding the children in the development of concentration, language acquisition, coordination of movement, independence, and instill a love for learning.

The Parent-Infant program runs weekly on Mondays and I hired a lovely AMI Infancy trained teacher to run the classes so I can attend as a parent.  It was actually quite easy to keep the ‘mom-hat’ on and focus on being with the boys in a beautifully prepared environment, along with the other families.

Once we arrive to the classroom, I sit the boys on the child size bench and remove their coats, socks, shoes, and pants.  Because they are in a very active stage, it is extremely important to keep their legs and feet bare (as much as possible) in order for their clothing not to restrict their movement.  I am ‘that mom’ with my camera on the first day, snapping pictures during the whole class to document everything!

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R and P sit on the bench upon arrival.  

We are then ready to enter the class and set the boys up with their own activities on mats.  The shelves are low, there is a movement mat and mirror, and many different activities for grasping, hand-eye coordination, language acquisition, etc.

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R and Daddy start with a familiar activity, Ring and Peg on Rocking Base (only one ring on in the beginning)

Over the next hour, R and P get the opportunity to try some materials that we do not have at home such as the spindle with napkin rings, the object permanence box, the bar to learn to pull up, the walking wagon, a language activity with forest animals, etc.  And we get the opportunity to enjoy one full hour of being absolutely present with our children.  It is a win – win!

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Becky shows R the Punch Ball

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Becky shows P Spindle with Rings

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R and I do a Language Activity together.

Next, all the children sit together at low tables for snack time and we set them up with placemats, plates, cutlery, and glasses.  I have been implementing Baby-Led Weaning with the boys (to be discussed in a future post) so they are able to feed themselves off their plates.  It is great to see them so capable although it does create a big mess!

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Lastly, we all come together to play instruments and sing songs.  And then class is over!  The children are all tired and ready to go home, however I wasn’t.  I wanted to stay and do it all over again.  I am not sure who enjoyed it more, me or the boys!  Now I actually look forward to Mondays. 🙂

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Filed under 6-12 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys

Toys for a One Year Old

By Rubi

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The first birthday of a child is a big deal for a parent. There are so many decisions to be made such as the amount of people to be invited, the type of food to be served, and the place to have the party at, etc.  When I finally made all those decisions and planed a big party another issue came up. Some people began to ask me:  what would I like them to give F for her first birthday party? They said could you give us some ideas? They know I like to choose carefully what kind of toys she plays with. Then I started looking for toys that I knew she would like to play with, that were durable, pretty and challenging for her.

I didn’t want to dictate people what to give F for her birthday but I did want to guide them so they had an idea of what she usually plays with.

An important note:  Many of links that I used for this post are from Amazon because it was easy for me to find a link and a picture. I noticed that some toys are more expensive at amazon. I told people to look for them at their different local toy stores and they were cheaper.

Here are some toys that I came up with:

Plan toy solid drum (by hape) 41e2ByuxNNL._SL500_

Dancing butterflies push and pull (by hape)  push and pull toy

Hape first puzzle  71zbJZolilL._AA1500_

Hape twist and turnables  71CcnvkVcUL._AA1500_

Plan toy shape and sort it out  41bd5ggZxzL._SL500_

Plan toys nuts and bolts  41lCGkIqpIL._SL500_

Plan toy stacking tree  61VVABcAReL._AA1500_

Magnetic blocks  (Tegu)5064_TeguOriginalPocketPouch_tints1

Bowling set (Growing Up Wild)  il_570xN.511135449_boju

Leaves puzzle (Manzanita Kids) il_570xN.425983830_tvwd

Nesting doll puzzle (Manzanita Kids) il_570xN.425988436_4vec

Grimms’s Wooden stacking and nesting rainbow bowls   pic of the stacking bowls

Truck  81S5imygMXL._AA1500_

I love this truck because she can place items on the bed of the pick up track  

 

She has these toys and I believe they are great for one year olds.

Xylophone  61nSY1tYO3L._AA1500_

Rocking horse  71VJiJZKwjL._AA1500_

Toddler size Apron  il_570xN.451644488_1ka6

 

Spinning Top original_traditional-tin-spinning-tops

Balls are always fun, so find one that is not too big or hard. A friend got me one that lights up and F absolutely loves it.

 

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi

Developing Concentration and Independent Play

By Carrie

  • A small toy shelf with a few carefully chosen, good quality toys
  • A place to play where child can do so without interruption and without having to block out other noise or activity going on
  • Time to play

Doesn’t seem too difficult does it?  Except that it is.  Our homes are filled with music, TV, and bustling activity.  We need to get started on the next activity, go to our next appointment, or meet up with a friend.  Which toys should we choose?  If we do know, the desire to offer more amazing toys often grips us.  The list goes on of why simplicity is difficult to achieve.

It starts with being intentional about respecting your child’s developing concentration before your baby arrives.

It’s fun planning for the baby to arrive.  A whole new world of enticing and fun baby products!  Most seasoned parents will tell you that you don’t need half of it.  I encourage you to think about what your child doesn’t need, and to take this further, what harms his/her developing concentration.  What will that brightly coloured play mat or flashing toy bring to your baby’s world?  Bright colours are often marketed to stimulate babies but too many bright colours can be too much stimulation.  A plain, solid coloured play mat will serve the function perfectly (a blanket that you already own will work).  Even a pattern, although beautiful, can be distracting and over stimulating.  With a plain mat the baby will be able to focus on the toy you choose rather than the mat.  We chose to get a solid coloured fitted sheet over a mattress topper.  A flashing toy to give your child feedback of their actions?  A pot with a wooden spoon will also give your child feedback of their actions.  A rattle where the child can see the bell that is making the sound is another example.  The child will be able to see the cause and effect, whereas with a toy with batteries, the child is unable to make the connection as they don’t physically make it happen with their muscles and they are unable to see it.  For a toy hanger we purchased an inexpensive wooden one from Ikea and removed the brightly coloured discs on the sides.

The fun of setting up a place for the baby to play is also important.  Background music or TV is pretty much standard these days that we don’t even think about it, but to a baby it is another activity.  We chose to move the TV to another room (much to my husband’s dislike as it is difficult to change our habits, but our daughter’s developing needs come before our habitual desires).  We chose to not listen to music all day long, only at certain times of the day and sometimes I don’t offer her toys, only music to listen to.  Baby nurseries are often brightly coloured rooms and children’s play spaces are often filled with multiple pictures covering the walls or huge toy shelves.  It is important to keep the colour of the walls a calming colour and to limit the pictures on the walls.  These pictures can be rotated.  Set up a quiet, calm place to play.  A small toy shelf with only a few toys will sustain your child’s attention much longer than a huge toy shelf filled with many, many toys.  Again, these toys can be rotated.  Here is a wonderful article on “Toys for Children: Less is More.”

When your baby is starting to have awake and alert times that last longer than a feeding session and time to gaze into your eyes before falling asleep again, then you can begin to offer time to play.  Offer a place that your baby can do so independently while you do something for yourself (like most new moms it revolves around eating and actually showering).  It is important that you establish playtime for your child to do something on his/her own.  Sometimes your child will want you to be near to him/her and other times you can be in the other room.  When your baby is finished, he/she will let you know.  If you need to remove your baby from this before he/she is ready, it is important to wait until your baby has finished focusing on whatever he/she is doing.  If your baby is busy engaged with a toy or looking intently at something: WAIT.  Although A. can stay engaged with one activity for a long time, when I go over to her she will usually look up at me in a few minutes.  I choose to respect her developing concentration and wait until she stops and looks up at me.  Very rarely will I be in a situation where I simply cannot wait a few moments.  It does happen  though and in those rare situations, I acknowledge and apologize to her: “I know you are focused on looking at the picture but we really have to get going now.  I’m sorry to disturb you.”)

When you place your baby in the play area, offer only one activity.  Offer only one picture (on the wall or in a book) to look at.  Or offer one mobile to gaze at.  Or offer one toy to play with.  Or offer music to listen.  All of these are examples of one activity at a time.  Babies are unable to take things in quickly so they need time to process.  If we offer too much stimulation at one time, the baby cannot distinguish what is important to take in, and takes in all of it.  It ends up not being clear for the child and feels like a jumbled mess.  TV has so many quickly changing images and sounds that a baby simply cannot process it.  The child may become overwhelmed and cry.  Or the child quietly shuts down and doesn’t take it in as there is just too much.  With too much stimulation, the baby is unable to take in the good opportunities to learn and develop.  As A. gained the ability to move towards a toy she wanted, I began offering her a choice between two toys.  She would move to one, explore it briefly, then move to the other toy and explore it briefly.  She would then settle on one toy and contentedly play with it, eventually going back to the other toy and then playing with it contentedly.  Thinking that it would sustain her longer if I offered three toys, I did so but consistently she would bounce between the three toys, not staying with any of them for a decent length of time.  I went back to offering only two toys and watched her determination and concentration increase as she engaged her muscles to reach for and play with the toys, one at a time.

While my experience has only been with A. (who is currently 7.5 months), I think all this preparation and simple steps to carry it through has worked quite well.  A friend recently commented on how independent A. is.   She often likes to be able to see me but doesn’t need me to provide her with new activities.  She will look around for me (and I can be engaged in my own activity) and then she goes back to playing independently, discovering something new about the toy or moving her body in a new way.  Some days she is fussy and wants more of my attention.  I do spend those days reading more stories to her, singing to her, and giving her more cuddles or putting her in a baby carrier if I need to get something done.  As she gets older, these days/moments are less and less.  She will often play independently for at least an hour, concentrating on playing with the toy, the movement of her body, listening to the sounds, or looking at something.  I just let her play.  Another friend whose daughter also has great independent play said it feels like lazy parenting.  Personally I don’t feel lazy.  I feel that I am watching her, delighting in her as she is given the space, time and respect to concentrate and develop at her own pace.

Last words: cleaning up.  Once A. has finished playing with a toy or it is time to move onto the next activity (such as nap time), I put the toy away with her present.  Now that she is moving around and getting into many toys, I let her take out whatever toys she wants and then when it is nap time I let her watch me put away the toys (even if she is cranky and crying).  I hope this helps her learn to put away toys when she is finished with them.

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships

What is so Special About the Montessori Mobiles? Part 1 – The Munari

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During our training we spent a good deal of time learning about the Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Body in order to have a clear understanding of what aids to give the child throughout his or her early years.  Our five senses begin to develop in utero and specifically the eyes begin to experience some light and darkness influenced by where the mother lives, the time of year, etc. but that is about it.

At birth, the child can only see approximately 30cm/12 inches in front of him or her.  Amazingly, that is the exact distance from the mother’s eyes to her breast!  I was truly blown away when this was pointed out to me.  Nature is so wise.

For the first two weeks we allow the newborn an adjustment period and after that we begin placing him or her under the first Montessori mobile, the Munari.  One of the special key factors about the Montessori mobiles is that we offer them to the child when he or she is awake and alert.  More commonly, you see commercial mobiles hanging over the area where a child sleeps.  For us, the purpose is to help the child learn to focus, track, and develop his or her visual sense so he or she needs to be actively engaged and not in the process of falling asleep.

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The Munari is a black and white mobile made from 2 dimensional geometrical shapes.  All the shapes and dowels are balanced off of a glass ball which reflects the light. This mobile moves very slowly in the environment (just by natural air flow) which allows the child to observe it with great concentrated energy.  The newborn is unable to see colour so the Munari is black and white in order to give the child the greatest contrast in shades.  Also, as the newborn visually studies his or her environment, he or she picks up that objects are made from linear and curvilinear figures so the Munari offers these geometric shapes to the child.

Because I have twins (and my husband only let me put one hook in our ceiling) I placed both boys under the Munari at the same time.  It was hung from the ceiling to land approximately 30 cm from their line of sight and not directly above them – more so they could look at it on a slight angle.  I found this time very special (once R was ok spending more time on the movement mat) and really enjoyed sitting back and observing them while they concentrated on the mobile.  They became fascinated with it for longer and longer periods of time and of course they couldn’t move yet (except for random non-voluntary flailing of arms and legs) so this became a time when I could also grab something to eat and have a cup of coffee!  Definitely a win-win situation.

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I kept this mobile up for almost 2 months.  When I observed that the boys were disinterested in it after a period of time, I would simply hook it up against the wall so that they could still stay on the movement mat and I would introduce another activity such as listening to some music, looking in the mirror, or grasping one of the rattles.  Right from the beginning we try to encourage only doing one thing at a time in order to help with the development of focus and concentration so each of these activities was done in turn.  Eventually, it was time for the Munari to be replaced with the next Montessori mobile in the series and it now hangs ready to be loaned out to another family with a newborn.
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The Munari mobile is not too difficult to make (I did a mobile making workshop with an upper elementary class and they each made one in about 2 hours) and here is what you will need:

  • Three thin wooden dowels (painted black), a glass ball (ornament), shiny black poster board paper (white on other side), fishing line, scissors, and glue.  I was able to find all materials at a local craft store we have here called Michaels.

Directions:

  • The Munari has three different levels.  The fishing line attaches to the center of the top dowel and this will hang the Munari above the child’s movement mat.
  • The top dowel is about 42 cm/16.5 inches long. From one side hangs the glass ball and from the other side hangs fishing line to the next dowel.
  • The second dowel is about 2/3 the size of the top dowel.  From one side hangs a black and white circle and from the other side hangs fishing line to the next dowel.
  • The third dowel is about ½ the size of the top dowel.  From either side hangs the two remaining black and white figures.20130915_154819_resized
  • The first thing you need to find out is the diameter of your sphere.  This will be called ‘A’ in our formula.
  • ‘A’ will also be the inner circle of the two dimensional circle.  On one side the inner circle is white, the other side is black.  The outer circle will be called ‘B’.  ‘B’ is equal to A plus 1/3 A.

Circle

  • The next shape (looks like two trapezoids together) starts as a square, which has each side equal to ‘B’.  Measure the square half-way on each side and connect that dot with the two opposite corners on both sides.  That will show you where you need to cut to make it the shape of the two trapezoids together (shortest length touching).  You will do the same with the other one that goes on the back.

First trapezoid

  • The other larger one begins as a rectangle, with two sides ‘B’ and the other two sides being 2’B’.   Do the same thing for the rectangle as you did for the square.  First you cut the paper on the long sides, and then you trace the black and white for the middle.

Second trapezoid

  • The shapes are attached to the dowels with fishing line.  The length of the line for each shape will be determined by the diameter of the ball and the balancing point of each dowel.

Good luck and enjoy observing your child while he or she learns to focus and track while developing concentration and independence!

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Filed under 0-3 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys

Crawling – Part Two: The Prepared Environment

By Rubi

Each stage of development goes so fast that it’s important to be prepared ahead of time in order to help the child achieve each milestone. My husband and I decided to set up our home in a way that would allow F to explore her surroundings freely. We believe that having the ability to explore the environment enhances cognitive and motor development, since the child sees something across the room and is able to crawl, creep, roll over or walk towards it to explore and manipulate it. If the child is placed in an exersaucer, bouncy seat or play pen the child has to wait for an adult to place a toy in front of him/her and play with whatever he/she was given.  This doesn’t allow the child to play, move and most importantly, it doesn’t give him/her the opportunity to choose what he/she wants to play with.

Playing with spinning top

In Montessori we pay a lot of attention to preparation of the environment and the selection of the materials (toys). We believe the prepared environment gives the child the best opportunity to develop the different stages of development; therefore, it is necessary that the adult spends time to carefully select and choose what is best for the child.  When choosing the materials (toys) we have to make sure they are child size, they are beautiful and have an intelligent purpose.

We chose toys that would help F enhance hand-eye coordination, help her develop attention and concentration, give her a sense of accomplishment, develop visual skills, encourage her to coordinate her movements, help with balance and eventually help her develop the process of independence.

As well as covering the plugs, removing poisonous plants and materials with toxins, securing cabinets, etc. we made sure that there is something interesting and safe throughout the house for her to see, touch and learn from.

Here are some toys that we chose for her room for this stage of development (crawling):

  • A box with a tray and ball to help her with the process of object permanence (something that is out of sight doesn’t mean it is gone forever), the ball disappears briefly then comes back; this material also enables her to work on her hand-eye coordination, cause-and-effect.
  • On a different corner there is a basket with different balls of various textures, sizes and weighs for her to touch, roll, explore and compare (with this activity she is choosing, comparing, tactile input, measuring size, texture, colors, etc.).
  • A little wood boat with two wooden toys that she takes out of the boat and tries to put back into the wholes. She is working on her fine motor skills, hand eye coordination.
  • A basket with different musical instruments a rattle, egg shaker, bells. With this activity she is able to refine her hearing and explore the different textures and sizes of the musical instruments.
  • A box with balls to push, her favourite toy in the room. She loves pushing the balls down and watching them go out of the tray. This toy is strengthening the muscles of her hands and fingers; as well as, developing her hand-eye coordination, it also helps her understand cause and effect when she pushes the ball down is goes through the hole and falls down.

In the dining area I have another shelf with:

Shelf with Materials

  • A low shelf with a book.
  • A wooden toy (egg and a cup) helps her with hand-eye coordination and to cross the midline.
  • A xylophone for hand-eye coordination and music appreciation.
  • A basket with known objects: a wooden rattle, interlocking rings (metal) a little brush (I name the objects and explore them carefully, we are working on her language skills using concrete objects to associate word and object)

In the kitchen I have another low shelf:

Shelf with Materials

  • A metal top, a little metal basket with a fabric flower that she takes in and out, a toy with pegs and rings. All of them help her with hand-eye coordination and refinement of fine motor skills.
  •  I also placed some cube magnets on my husband’s metal desk that she loves. All of the materials listed above are changed slowly, after she loses interest or masters a skill or moves on to a different milestone.

Objects to encourage walking:

  • Low furniture, such as our sofa, an ottoman, etc.
  • She has a beautiful handmade wooden chair that she uses to pull herself up and holds on to the sofa while practicing standing up and sitting down. She is on her way to cruising (walking along furniture).

The outdoor environment:

 

  • There is a wind chime that she enjoys moving as she crawls by.
  • A bucket with some rocks that she places in and out of it chews on them and manipulates.
  • Bubbles
  • Most important, she explores the grass, the stone path, and the plants.
  • A low lounge chair for her to practice standing, cruising, pulling up and sitting down.

By nine months a baby understands the purpose of an object: a cup is for drinking, a rattle is for shaking, etc. by letting her manipulate different objects we are allowing her to make the appropriate associations.

It is a lot of work to prepare and maintain the environment but  I enjoy looking at my daughter everyday choosing her favorite toys, crawling from one shelf to another or ignoring a shelf or a toy because  she is too busy picking up a tiny little dog hair that she has found on the floor.

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Filed under 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi

Bringing Home Babies

By Christie

The day that we brought the boys home from the hospital feels like a lifetime ago.  They were quite small and my concerns were the same as any new mom: “Are they getting enough milk?  Why are they crying?  Do they really only sleep for 2-3 hour intervals?!”  Not even my intensive Montessori trainings could have prepared me for what real lack of sleep feels like!

The first couple of weeks were spent figuring out life together as a new family.  My husband T had never held a baby before let alone change a diaper (times that by two) so getting him comfortable was top priority.  I was recovering from a C-Section so not very mobile and required a lot of help with the babies.  My mom C was also here staying with us and was a huge support in preparing meals, cleaning, and acting as my personal chauffer since I wasn’t allowed to drive.

In our training we talked about the importance of the “Symbiotic Period” which is the first 6-8 weeks of a child’s life.  During this time the mother and the child establish an important relationship with one another which is crucial to each other’s life.  Through holding, handling, and feeding the mother and child come to know each other in their new relationship and through this the child develops basic trust in the world.  The father plays a very important role as well.  He is the protective barrier and can form his own special relationship with the child through participating in the infant’s physical care (hence why it was so important for T to learn how to change a diaper!!).

Bringing home multiples altered this model a bit.  I had to be conscious of satisfying both boys’ needs equally and T definitely took more of a role in the everyday holding, handling, and feeding (we had to supplement for first 6 weeks).  I found it helpful to read passages of Silvana Montanaro’s book Understanding the Human Being to T in order for him to understand the importance of this period and his role as a father.  During this time he began the nightly ritual of bathing the boys which is a special time for all three of them.  I truly believe that this routine not only helped the boys go to bed without a fuss but also has made T’s bond with the twins so strong due to these nightly interactions.

When we could, we would make an effort to put the boys down on the movement mat (see my previous post on the area for movement).  Now I don’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t realize that with one of my little guys it would take so much work to get him comfortable spending time there!  I guess I thought I would just put them down and they would be happy and content for hours!  Well, like introducing anything new, it was a process.  P was very content to be placed on the mat under the Munari (the first black and white mobile introduced from 2 weeks on) however with R I would literally put him down and he would immediately start crying to be picked up!  Over the course of days and weeks it was my goal to ‘remediate’ this as I knew just how important it was for babies to experience the early stages of independence.  I started out sitting on the mat while holding him, then put him on my lap, then lay him down beside me….all for very short intervals of time.  This was done multiple times throughout each day and eventually I was able to put him down and leave him on the mat without me.  I am happy to report that R now loves being on the movement mat for long periods of time (which mommy also loves!).

P and R observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

R and P observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

The first two months of R and P’s lives seems like a distant blur.  We survived the Symbiotic Period and the thing that made it all worth it was when the boys finally looked at us after the two months and gave us real smiles!

SmilesSmiles

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Filed under 0-3 Months, Christie, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships