When children are using nesting materials they aren't simply playing or building they are experimenting, they are problem-solving, they are developing critical thinking skills!! Nesting materials are so incredibly easy to find and they provide exceptional learning opportunities. We love to use nesting materials as they can help support and develop:
- dexterity and fine motor skills
- counting skills
- gross motor skills - especially in larger materials like the large wooden nesting boxes.
- awareness of shapes and size
- grasp and release movements
- visual and spatial perception / visual discrimination
- hand-eye coordination
- opportunities for crossing the midline
- language - 'pass', 'in', 'up', 'big', 'bigger', 'biggest', 'small', 'smaller', 'smallest'
- sequencing skills
- creativity - for example, we love to build with our metal condiment cups in different ways making spaceships and pyramids.
- problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The child will often trouble-shoot, why doesn't this work, why won't this fit.
- the child's natural schemas. They can support transporting or connecting schemas and the dump and fill phase that many children experience.
Nesting materials are easy to source as you can often find items from around the house like nesting containers, baskets, bowls, measuring cups or storage containers. You can start really simply with just two of the nesting items and build up to however many pieces you have in the set, it's easy to adjust the nesting activity to the skills of the child.
Pictured above are some of the nesting materials we have used starting from nine months:
- Wooden Box and Cube (c/o Montessori Shop)
- Plan Toys Nesting Boxes*
- Large Wooden Nesting Cubes*
- Plan Toys Nesting Cylinders*
- Baby Stacking Cups
- Wooden Nesting Bowls*
- Stacking Sun (similar here)
- Mini Rainbow
- Nesting Jute Bowls
- Metal Condiment Cups (2.5oz)* - we've used these as loose parts from around 9 months.
- Measuring Cups
- Nesting Containers - we don't use tupperware or plastic containers but these could work if they are in a set. We have the metal nesting Konserve containers that would work well here too.
Although the baby stacking cups would be one of the most popular nesting materials there are lots of alternatives. Recycled containers that fit inside each other would also work as nesting materials, I'm thinking like washed yoghurt containers.
Pop any plastic or metal materials in the bath or water table and the child can use them to explore volume, gravity and the physics of water too.
* Most used materials at present (16 months).