I’d like to be able to write about our Montessori Work Shelves but alas, we still have no shelves! These materials are instead carefully arranged on the floor, at least they’re arranged as carefully as anything can be arranged on bare tiles!
I devour all the Montessori Work Shelves posts that appear on Pinterest, however the idea of Work Shelves for anyone under three is a slightly uncomfortable thought for me. There’s nothing diminishing about referring to the work of the child as play! Let us refere to our guru of childhood Maria herself who put it thus;
“He becomes a man by means of his hands, by means of his experience, first through play, then through work.”
So play, then work. Got it. Between 8 and 9 months a baby is developing their hand-eye corordination. They are also developing an awareness of cause and effect. They are beginning to deliberately investigate objects and will try to create relationships between objects, to an adult that generally looks like bashing two items together or dropping things to see if you will hand them back! It means that now is the time to offer them two-part toys or toys that fit together. Their hands (or “the instruments of man’s intelligence” as our dear Maria Montessori referred to them) are increasing their flexibility every day so it’s also a good time to introduce some items that encourage fine motor play.
These are the Montessori materials and traditional toys that Alfie has been using for the last month.
The Egg and Cup – this toy encapsulates everything that I love about Montessori. It’s simple and natural but wonderfully complex! It focuses on on skill and has a self correcting outcome allowing independence and confidence even in babies!
Sensory Bottles – We haven’t been able to do too much sensory play as Alfie is very much a muncher so this is as close as we can get to small items! He really enjoys inspecting the contents of each bottle and exploring the temperatures and textures of the glass and lids with his mouth. The soft sounds they make are also a gentle invitation to use his own language.
The Swisher – this toy was gifted to Alfie by his one year old cousin and it was an instant hit! It’s a traditional Montessori material, I’m always surprised by how the simple toys are the most exciting!
Ribbons – this tiny little chest of ribbons is the most fun you can have for 80p when you’re 8 months old! Endless fun pulling them in and out of the box, and the knob on the lid develops a different type of grip. This our Spanish item we talk about las cintas en la caja, los colores, los lunares etc. The vocabulary is so simple that it leaves this activity open for Fred to speak Spanish too if he wishes.
Wicker Basket – I have no pithy name for this activity. In true Montessori fashion it’s just a basket! Alfie loves pulling the lid off and seeing what’s inside. He also loves wearing the lid as a hat, chewing it, throwing it, bashing it. We’re still working on using it as a lid! But for now it’s just fun!
These baskets are in addition to some other toys we use and Alfie’s books which we also read on a daily basis.