All of the materials on Ot's shelves at eight months. Some are new, some are old. Some are Montessori and others are simple traditional toys. He has materials on both shelving units in his room. His clothes and nappies are now stored in his wardrobe. He can reach his low shelves but his other shelving unit is out of reach, and will be until he starts pulling himself up.
1. Object Permanence Box.
2. Progressive Ring Stacker from Beginning Montessori.
3. Egg in Cup and Palmer Grasp Cylinder from At Home with Montessori.
4. Nesting Owls. These are much loved owls that belonged to Caspar. When I gave them to Otis I wasn't sure how he would react. Otis was immediately attracted to them. He loves opening them up to find another owl inside.
5. Basket of rattles and shakers.
6. I think this is called a Skwish.
7. Music box
8. Jack(Clown)-in-the-box. I had been looking for one of these for ages. Unfortunately most of those in our toy stores had commercial characters or branding. Luckily my Mum found this one just in time for Christmas.
9. Plan Toys drum.
He also has a basket of books, his walker with his Handmade Soft Blocks and this toy (below). I'm not sure what this is called, it belonged to Caspar also. Funny, Caspar never liked it but Otis uses it all the time.
This is the clown inside the Jack-in-the-box. I wasn't sure about this one either, if the surprise would be too much, the clown too creepy. It turns out the surprise is kind-of fun.
He also has other toys scattered throughout the house, his ball cylinder is permanently on the floor and there are a couple of other materials I want to show you in separate posts. In his room we rotate the toys gently. We keep his favourites out and those that are used less we rotate every couple of weeks. Otis appears to be a sitter and has taken to almost every material I have presented to him.
As an important note from birth we have shown Otis to put his toys away, back in the same place they came from when he has finished with them. If he is in his room by himself and gets out a few toys when we enter the room we will pack up those he is obviously finished with. It will be a while until he is able to put away his toys himself but I am sure he already knows where they go.
Also, does this seem like a lot of toys to you? On two shelving units this would be the maximum amount of toys I would have out. Soft toys? Yes, he has a few but currently only one out which he keeps on his bed.
Babies need to use their concentration to make it stronger. Your baby might surprise you with their concentration span. Focus too.
Don't underestimate them. Or their ability to become totally absorbed in something so simple.
It's just what we needed. Quiet and calm.
I try for some one-on-one time with each of my children each day. It doesn't always happen. With Caspar we usually read a book or cook. Today with Otis it was some fresh air and sunshine.
Wishing you fresh air and sunshine wherever you may be.
The year is coming to an end and I am starting to get philosophical. It has been a wonderful year and I have met so many amazing people.
To every single person who has ever left a comment or emailed, thank you. You continue to give me support and inspiration when it is needed.
Neptune. Thank you for being right along side me for so many of the standout moments of the year. Thank you for your inspiring blog, your encouraging words. Thank you for knowing and understanding.
Kate. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me in person. At the time it felt like such a risk. Thank you for putting up with me in person and my somewhat kookiness. I love the way you think and your ideas are always the best. You are without doubt the strongest person I have ever met.
Meghan. You make me a better person and a better parent. Your calmness and guiding words have had such an impact on me. Your Montessori knowledge is second to none.
Sara. Thank you for being you. You are possibly the most driven and passionate Montessorian I know. You inspire me to do more and to be more.
Charlotte. Thank you for your warm and caring nature and for sharing your parenting expertise. I have loved getting to know you.
Christine. I haven't told you before but your simple messages and words of support are powerful. You give me faith in myself.
Carrie. Thank you for your wisdom. Anyone involved in preparing a Montessori environment knows the details count. Thank you for helping me get the details right.
April. Thank you for your simple, perfect words. Thank you for at times translating Montessori. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for bringing beauty into my home and life.
Thank you to the families who shared their homes and lives. Charlene, I hope you are well. Rachel, I have loved connecting with you and send my best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy and for birth of your Rosebud. Cathy you have helped me so many ways. Thank you. I wish you all the best for your new endeavor. Thank you to Milena, who initially was unknown to me but crossed the difficult language barrier to share her story.
Thank you to the people and companies who supported the Christmas 2011 Giveaways; Angela from Classic Baby, Amy and Steve from Montessori Child, Meg from At Home with Montessori and Carrie and Shane from Beginning Montessori.
Thank you Steph for inviting me over to MPMK.
To those expecting little ones in the new year, including Charissa, I wish you the very best.
To my little sister Shannon, thank you for listening.
To the many mothers I have connected with, in so many ways, over so many topics, thank you. To each and every reader, thank you for your company. I hope we can continue to share and come together again in 2012.
Please stay safe and have happy holidays.
It's widely known and appreciated that the Montessori philosophy doesn't support the use of baby walkers.
Walker wagons are a little different. They offer support and safety. Good walkers will allow the child to creep and pull themselves up to standing, then over time push and pull (backwards and forwards) until they are ready to take a step.
From Michael Olaf The First Year - Crawling, Pulling Up, Standing.
A walker wagon (wooden, not plastic) will provide a opportunity for the child to pull up and practice walking at will, but it will usually require the adult to turn the wagon around when the child reaches the end of the path, and push and pull toys are great fun for the new walker.
None of these things rush the child, but they all help give the opportunity for practice at the perfect time.
The Walker Wagon at Michael Olaf is probably considered the best. But there are other good options if you know what you are looking for.
Stability is key and wheels that won't run away from the baby.
Here is what I look for in a baby walker:
This walker is from Montessori Child. I was happy to purchase this online as I trust Amy, she has high standards. However if you see one online you are not sure about, ask around or look for an opportunity to see and feel it yourself.
Keeping it simple.
No expensive equipment. No elaborate trays. No instruction. No rush.
Simply the freedom to choose, some real tools and real work.
Children of this age are urged by the laws of their nature to find active experiences in the world about them. For this they use their hands, and not only for practical purposes, but also for acquiring knowledge. If we leave children free in this new kind of environment that we have provided, they give us quite an unexpected impression of their nature and abilities. - Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind.
Otis isn't ready for the walker yet but we decided to order it for him for Christmas anyway. It will be waiting for him when he is ready. It makes for perfect storage for his soft blocks.
I am sure many of you have guessed how I made these. I am no sewing expert and chose what I thought were the easiest options. Because I used one colour per block I made each block using only one piece of fabric sewn into a cube. The pictures may make more sense than the words. Here is my basic how to.
I used an actual block as the template as it helped me to visualise the size my blocks would turn out. I chose drill fabric in primary and secondary colours.
Iron interfacing to the fabric. Interfacing adds strength and will help the block keep it's shape. This isn't essential but it looks nicer and I had plenty of interfacing available.
For each block I simply traced, using a fabric pencil, around the block six times in this layout.
Using the fabric pencil I made a seam allowance of around 5mm.
Cut out around the seam allowance, removing the seam corners.
To get a neat looking cube, iron all of the seams and creases. With the drill fabric and interfacing they came out nice and crisp with defined edges. Ironing the seams also makes it easier to fold for the next step.
Fold on the creases so the cube is inside-out and sew the seams. I used a machine on a short (1.5) stitch but you could handsew if you didn't have a machine. Sew all but one or two seams.
This is what the cube looks like once all but one seam has been sewn.
Using the one open side turn the cube right-side out. It may be easier to turn right-side out if you have left two seams open.
I filled the blocks with polyester stuffing from my local sewing shop. It would be ideal to fill with foam blocks cut to size if this was an option for you.
The last and final seam was sewn by hand using a blind stitch. I used this video to show me how. Each block got easier and by the time I was finished I had a neat and consistent blind stitch.
The final product. Lovely, bright and colourful handmade soft blocks.
I thought of a few extension activities. Initially Otis may just throw them, hopefully stack and knock them down. Because of their colour they could be used in colour matching activities, with language cards or even gross motor - throwing them from a distance onto a target or into a hoop.
Information is power. Yes it is. We live in a fortunate country, in fortunate times. Imagine though if your access to information was limited.
Earlier in the year I gave away a few of my Montessori books, those I no longer used. After this I was approached by a lovely Directress. Due to the location of her school and lack of resources they don't have the kind of access to information, to Montessori books, that we take for granted. From that moment on I committed to saving my books with the intention of donating them to this school.
So I was thinking, perhaps you would like to join me?
If you have any Montessori or Montessori related books that you no longer use, would you consider donating them? Good condition but gently used is ok. Believe me it's a good cause. I won't be publishing any further details here. Please email me or leave a comment with your email address if you are interested.