When we found out we were having twin boys I thought to myself, “Now this is REALLY going to put my Montessori theory to the test!!” It was finally time for me to put my many years of experience with other people’s babies into practice and I was ready for the challenge.
A huge factor in the Montessori philosophy is preparing the environment. This is a fancy way of saying that you must spend a good deal of time getting your house ready for the child/ren in such a way that you take into account their needs at each developmental stage. By creating a beautiful, calm, simple space for the baby with the right amount of stimulation it is hoped that he/she will form a secure and healthy attachment to his/her new family and world.
My husband and I have a fairly small house so we really needed to be mindful of how we were to set up the space for not one but two babies! Setting up their room was so exciting (to be discussed in a future post) however one of the components which we term the area for movement (aka play zone) I chose to create outside of their room and make it a part of our common living space. I wanted a visible area where I could put the boys down and they would be able to entertain themselves while I made a much needed cup of coffee!
So, I needed to prepare such an environment. What did I need? A movement mat, mirror, cabinet, shelf, and materials. Please keep in mind that we were on a budget so the items that I bought are not the top of the line but still serve the purpose. I wanted the space to be beautiful, calm, and simple and not have my house overtaken by baby items so had to be selective with what I chose to buy.
The movement mat that I purchased is a mattress topper from Ikea similar to this one and I covered it with a rubberized flannel pad and a neutral bed sheet (also purchased at Ikea).
The mirror I got was from Canadian Tire. Ideally it would not be framed and you need to make sure it is secured to the wall. I LOVE using these Velcro-type strips for all the things I hang for the boys as they can easily be removed when they grow and when the height of the pictures etc. need to be adjusted.
I had the hardest time finding the right cabinet with enough shelves and glass doors but not too large in size. I finally found one at Winners/Home Sense however this is the one that I am still on the hunt for (although totally out of my price range).
Now, what to put in the cabinet? Well, I was lucky! Since I had been running Parent-Infant classes for a few years now, I was able to simply bring my materials home from school. What do I mean by materials? Basically they are toys. I am sure you have noticed by now that we have a particular lingo in the Montessori world. We choose to call them materials as they all have a specific developmental purpose however simply put, they are educational toys. I purchased the majority of mine from: Beginning Montessori and Michael Olaf. I occasionally find nice items at places around town, keeping in mind some key factors like the toys need to be small, preferably made from wood or another natural substance, and purposeful.
In the first few months you don’t need much except a few small grasping materials, a music box or other source of music, and a selection of mobiles. We hung one of those plant hanger hooks in the ceiling above the movement mat (my husband was not too happy about this) and this is where the mobiles are hung. The specific toys were placed on a small low shelf (actually a shoe rack from Canadian Tire).
The space was ready! Thank goodness because the boys chose to arrive almost a month early! 🙂
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