I have been trying to capture Otis using the Interlocking discs on video for a while now. You may have seen the discs used before before but I love to watch how those little hands and little fingers work them. These discs are from Beginning Montessori. My previous post about the discs can be found here.
Have you ever made a Montessori Puzzle Ball? I would say it's for intermediate sewers and I'm definitely a beginner. But I gave it a shot anyway.
There are a couple of things I love about this ball. The way the it is formed so it is easy for the child to grasp, pick up and hold. The way it draws your attention and attracts the eye. It's obviously chewable and because you can make it yourself you know exactly what is in it. I made this one from green and natural linen and put a medium sized bell in the centre to make it that much more special.
If you haven't made one before, let me tell you it is harder than it looks.
I printed off and followed Meg's tutorial here. I also checked out how Rachael from Little Red Farm did it here.
I really liked the sewing challenge but need so much more practice. If you don't have the time, patience or skill you can purchase one from Meg herself at At Home with Montessori. Her's look so much neater than mine!
When choosing materials for our new baby the interlocking dics were high on my list. Why? Well they are so uniquely Montessori, I wanted to give them a try. I had not seen them used before and didn't know anyone who had used them. This certainly isn't the kind of material you find in your local baby shop.
I presented the interlocking to discs to Otis when he was around three months old. He was grasping lots of things but stuggled with the discs. The things he liked to grasp were items he could get his fingers all the way around like rattles and the bars on his bell and ball cylinder.
It was the bell cylinder that he started with hand to hand transfer, the would hold the cylinder with two hands then let go with one hand, then hold with two and then let go with the other. However it is only now at four months that he has enough hand/finger strength to hold the discs and now completes this hand to hand transfer where he is actually passing the discs from hand to hand.
The unique positioning of the discs means this hand to hand transfer also requires some wrist rotation. I think it was Nienhuis that said "through this transfer he creates different experiences with the same object".
There are many things that say Montessori and this is one of them.
Does anyone know the history of the interlocking discs? Please? Once again I am unhappy with just using a material but want to find out more about it. Who? When? Why?
I didn't see it coming so I found myself a little underprepared. Although he was chewing on everything, everything! His favourite things to chew included fingers (his and mine), clothes (usually mine) and the strap on his Ergo carrier.
Unfortunately some of the items I had purchased which said they were good for teething, those made of wood, have been an unattractive chewing option for Otis.
So as you might know I have been asking around. What do you give your baby to chew on? I couldn't find a lot of Montessori information but I wanted to stick to natural materials.
Here are a few things that Otis is now happy to chew on.
1. Sophie the Giraffe
After searching our local stores this mini Sophie was the best I could find. I was a little concerned about giving him this mini version because, well, Giraffes don't have handles. But I am convinced Otis doesn't see it like this but rather just somthing to put in his mouth. It's 100% rubber and a nice texture. Thank you Sara for the recommendation. This mini version does work well for Otis because he is only four months old and has a little mouth. I will still keep my eye out for the original (full sized) Sophie.
2. Crochet ring
He will chew on the cotton crochet part. This is easy for him to hold. I am thinking of buying a couple more just because they come in such pretty colours. Sold by April and mentioned by Meg.
3. Wash cloths
Recommended by other parents, this cheap and easy option was worth a try. The first time I gave one to Otis he sucked on it and put himself to sleep. Not what I had in mind but I will keep one handy for when those gums get really sore.
4. Cloth rattles
Made by April but would be easy to make yourself. Cloth rattles filled with organic bamboo fibers. The tiny bell inside adds interest. I know they are rattles but the size and shape mean they are perfect for in the mouth. We now have these rattles throughout our home, in our car and I carry a couple in my bag.
Anyone else teething? Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.
Too young for a treasure basket? I don't think so. A treasure basket provides the perfect opportunity to introduce some new items, new smells, new textures, new weights and new ways of holding things. Including items made from natural materials provides a gentle way of stimulating a baby's senses.
His first treasure basket contains:
a small hand dyed silk
an organic woollen ball (it has a small bell inside)
an infant's hairbrush
I love to watch his expression not only when he sees but feels something for the first time.
We started using the bell rattle when Otis was two months old. Now he is starting to put things in his mouth it is time to move onto other grasping materials.
The interlocking discs are the most interesting looking of materials. They are designed to encourage the child to rotate their wrists and pass the discs from one hand to the other. Being made from natural materials these will take a bit of chewing when it comes teething time.
Today at 15 weeks I noticed Otis bringing his hands together for the first time.
How often do we give our children inappropriate materials. In reality it probably doesn't do too much harm, but it doesn't do any good either. Beginning Montessori state 'Most rattles are so big they look like a bar bell when offered to an infant' and I think they are right.
Otis is still little (9 weeks) and this sweet little bell rattle fits perfectly in his hands. It is seriously the sweetest 'toy' for an infant and so, so simple.
It is the only hand material that he is using (the others in the above picture are a little big for him to get his fingers around and are to be used at around three months). While it stimulates his grasping reflex it also allows him to focus and concentrate on tracking (as he looks at it) and works on making purposeful movement. It also gives him something else to do and something new to explore.
I know that he enjoys it as he will grasp it and shake it for a few minutes at a time. Yes, building up hand strength too. It truly is the simple and most natural (and handmade) things that are the best.
I admit to sometimes feeling insecure about my Montessori knowledge. It is for this reason I have stayed away from many specific Montessori materials. I always thought that you needed formal training to know how to use them or to know how to present them to your child.
While I am sure this is true for many materials, I have been tempted by the lure of Etsy to try some Montessori toys and mobiles for our new baby (due April 2011).
A Munari mobile is next on my list. If you haven't seen one of these before you are not alone. The Munari is a black and white mobile that is used for a baby as young as 3 weeks. I have just found an Australian supplier of these and other materials At Home with Montessori, I have also noticed that they sell through Made It.
There are many good things about these products. Obviously the benefit of using developmentally appropriate materials. Many of these are made by people with Montessori training and include clear, precise instructions on when and how to use them. This makes me feel confident that I will be able to present them as intended.
Even if you don't follow Montessori, some of these products are truly beautiful (check out the Gobbi) and would make perfect, natural gifts. They are also all quality handmade.
I do have a dilemma in that I do not know where to hang the mobiles. I am not sure which rooms we will spend most of our time. Some people say to have a hook in every room, but I really don't want to install so many hooks (bedroom, playroom, living area, lounge). I welcome any suggestions.