Tag Archives: Infant

Montessori Infant: Seven Months

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I missed six months. It’s been busy, in large part because Malin is now crawling and has been for nearly four weeks. She also pulls herself up to standing. We’re doomed. So while I’ve been following along with the Montessori materials, she’s jumped through a few of them because she sat up, started crawling and began pulling herself up so quickly.

We’re now at the fun part where I can assemble little treasure baskets for her with three or four items. She’s very quickly gaining control over her hands, passing objects between hands, manipulating them, turning them over, and banging them together. I remember really enjoying this stage with Cam and it was relatively easy to entertain her with a few new items rummaged from our kitchen or bathroom drawers.

Malin is really into blocks. Cam got into them, but not until much later. Malin likes to pull them out of the basket one by one, flip them around in her hands and look at every side, then set it down next to her and grab the next one. It’s interesting to watch and can entertain her for upwards of 15 minutes.

Ball Basket

I am always so amazed at what a different kid Malin is from Camille. While I knew she would be I had no idea we would be able to tell so early. Here’s to our last few months before she’s up and running.

Montessori Infant: Five Months

Moo Five MonthsAnd just like that she was five months. I have to admit this time around I’m enjoying the baby stage a lot more. I wonder if in part I was set up better with my prenatal and postpartum care having used a midwife. I know being older and wiser, having done this once before, is helping too. 

This baby is a little further along than my first was at this age. She’s been rolling over for a month or more now and she has also become quite proficient at scooting around in circles on her tummy to look at things, follow people, and get to toys on different places on her play mat. She has also been working on core strength that allows her to sit up unassisted. While she still flops a bit, she is getting stronger and stronger by the day. She sometimes folds in half and can’t get back up, but she’s also figured out how to put her hands out in front of her to stop herself from falling too far forward. 

A lot of her materials have stayed the same from four months. We still have the Dancers Mobile up over her bed and she loves to watch that. I place her topponcino on the floor bed under the mobil and place her there to nap. I think the topponcino still helps her feel comfortable and familiar and the mobile keeps her entertained when she wakes up. She’ll often spend five or so minutes watching it and cooing/babbling at it after waking and before she fusses to let me know she’s ready for me to come join her. I know this is part of the Montessori approach to infants, leaving them alone (not necessarily physically) to engage with their environment. As she gets better at sitting up we can start introducing baskets with interesting things for her to sift through in them. 

I think the biggest advance Malin has made this month, though, is around food. She loves to eat and was showing all the signs of being ready to start solids. Between those cues and the fact that nursing has been difficult, we started her on some purees. Now this is a place I diverged from Montessori infant methods with my first and am continuing to with my second. In the Montessori way you have a small table and chair for the infant to sit at and eat called a weaning table. But that is just not practical in our house both for reasons of space and added complexity. There is no room to have another table and chair, no matter how small, in our dining room/kitchen. And with two kids and myself to feed I’m not about ready to set up three separate meals. Instead we modified the youth chair we had for Camille by adding straps and a buckle and we simply have the baby sit at the dining room table with us. She gets a little puree at each meal we eat (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) which is exactly how we did it with Camille. She nurses both before or after eating the solids and also between meals as well as early in the morning and later in the evening. 

I am struck this time around by how fast it’s all happening and while it’s been a long five months (this baby doesn’t sleep all the way through the night yet), I also feel like it’s flown by. 

Montessori Infant: Four Months

A lot has changed in the past month with Malin, both in terms of her development and in her space. I’m also running a couple weeks late with this post, but that’s fine.

Malin's RoomWe still have three spaces designed specifically for her, but one of those spaces has morphed into an actual room all for her. The room we called the classroom was never that useful and we rarely spent time in it. If Cam and I wanted to work on any homeschool activities we would bring them out to the dining room table. It’s bigger and the room is better lit during the day. So instead of wasting the space we decided to convert it into Malin’s room. So we moved some furniture out, some in and voila! Malin’s room. We’re all very happy with how it turned out. 

She was outgrowing the side car crib she had and we needed a new, safe space for her to sleep. With Cam we threw a mattress on the floor, much like you see in many a Montessori infant space and I wanted to do the same with Malin. Part of her growth this month has been a increase in movement. Floor BedNot only does she constantly roll herself onto her tummy, but she kicks and pushes and wiggles herself all around her mats and blankets as she looks at things and follows us around the room. This development really convinced me it was time for her to be in a floor bed. 

I put out the octahedron mobile that I made for her and that’s hanging above the little pad she has in Cam’s room. She hasn’t been all that interested in it. But in her new room I hung out the Dancers mobile and wow does she LOVE that. She watches it move in the breeze from the ceiling fan. You can see it here in the picture of the floor bed.

Bell on a StringAlso part of the Montessori infant materials suggested for this age is a bell on a ribbon. You hang it so the baby can grab or kick it and it gives them instant feedback with the sound. Malin is doing a lot of intentional grabbing, so I thought this would be a good addition to her environment. When Cam was the same age it was December. One of our Christmas tree ornaments was a large silver bell, shaped like a jingle bell, and Cam was captivated by it. She spent hours touching it and playing with it. I got out the ornament to hang for Malin and she has been equally entranced by it. The poor thing will need some polishing after being manhandled by our two babies, but it’s perfect for this age.  

Just to plug it again, if you want a chart with the various Montessori materials in the infant/toddler years see this post where you can download it. 

Montessori Infant: 3 months

Octahedron MobileA number of years ago I created a scope and sequence of sorts of Montessori materials, games, and concepts. I did one for infants and one for toddlers up through about age 6. You can find those here. Since we decided to have another baby I dug out the infant chart and have been using it to select materials to have out for the baby.

In the newborn stage you don’t need much. A topponcino, a place to change diapers, a mirror, a floor bed (or in our case a handmade side car crib). Around two months you can introduce black and white pictures, fabrics, and patterns. This is also the time to hang up the Munari Mobile.

3 Month BasketI have three areas set up in the house: one in the girls’ room, one in the classroom and one in the living room. Each features a pad or blanket for her to lay on and a few materials (right now, black and white art cards and pictures of baby and kid faces). Some of the materials are divided up and others move around with us because she likes them so much. This book is a particular favorite: My Face Book.

Malin turned three months on Friday and I thought I would post some pictures of the things we have out for her that align with Montessori principles and materials. I have a small basket with a small rainbow grasping toy, a wooden grasping ring with ribbons, and a small frog lovey (pictured to the right). The frog was originally Camille’s and lived on her changing table where we used it to distract her if necessary. We called it Changing Frog. It’s soft and large enough for a young infant to practice grabbing at so I included it this month in her materials. The rainbow grasping toy is similar to the Montessori grasping beads, which are in a line instead of a ring. The wooden ring is probably still a little heavy for Malin’s tiny hands to grab onto, but I like the ribbons attached to it. She can gum the ring and touch the ribbons until she’s strong enough to really get ahold of it. Also, I’ll be honest, the Montessori grasping beads freak me out. While I know they technically should be strong enough not to break off their string, they still seem like a choking hazard. More so than the two grasping rings I have put out. That’s just my comfort level, though. 

Room Set Up at One MonthThe last two months we’ve had up the Munari, or black and white, Mobile and it’s been a favorite of Malin’s. You can see it hanging over her in the picture to the left and see her fixating on it even at five weeks. I have now changed it out for the Octahedron Mobile (which makes me kind of sad that she’s already out grown something, but also excited to try out new materials; see it in the picture at the top of the post). I made both mobiles while I was pregnant. It was a fairly simple project. I found a pattern and instructions on Etsy for the Munari and I think I found the Octahedron for free online.

 So that’s a peek at what I have out for the baby right now.

 

Resources Series: Montessori Scope and Sequence

Resource Series BannerWay back in June I posted that I was working on a scope and sequence of Montessori materials and activities. You can refresh your memory here if you’d like. Long story short, I finished it and am ready to share. I know the blogosphere likes to share, especially the Montessori/homeschool crowd and I really want to contribute something.

There may very well be something out there on the Internet like this and it may be better. I haven’t found it though, so I created this scope and sequence. It is just that, a scope and sequence for the infant, toddler, and 3-6 age groups. It simply shows what the various Montessori activities and materials are and in what order they are presented. I have also cross referenced everything so you can see where each material falls in the sequence (often in more than one place) and how the various activities relate to others across areas of “study”. Meaning, you can see how the Red Rods are related to both early numeracy and the sensorial activities, etc.

While I have loosely grouped it into age ranges, none of those are hard and fast rules. My own daughter is ready for some things that would be presented to older children but is not ready for other things that are intended for younger children. It is organized in a couple ways that make sense to my particular brand of crazy organization. :) I included a couple ways of using and looking at it so I could get a handle on everything and how it all functions as a cohesive curriculum. I hope someone else finds it helpful too and that maybe someone else will feel less confused in the way I was to begin with.

As a side note, if you use it and have suggestions or find typos please let me know. I will certainly try to fix typos and would love to consider other input. I am already making changes to it that make sense for us as I am using it. It’s a living breathing document and should be flexible. I want it to be responsive, that’s one of the beauties of a blog and online community. 

Montessori Scope and Sequence Outline – This is truly an outline. With Roman numerals and tabs and everything. It may be the easiest to read, but to me it was the least useful way to work with the curriculum. This was the basis for everything else, though, and I use it in tandem with the Presentation Record.

Montessori Visual Outline – This shows you in a more visual way how all the pieces relate to one another. It does not cross reference anything though. It’s more like a curriculum map, if you’ve ever seen or worked with one of those.

Montessori Presentation Record – This allows you to record when you have presented a material or activity, when the child works with it, and when they have mastered it. This was really my end goal. From a homeschooling standpoint, this is probably the most useful, but I use it in tandem with the Outline.

Infant Activities & Materials Map – This is just a visual representation of the infant materials. It maps out the information from the outline and puts into more of a timeline context. I wish I had done this when Cam was still a baby.

Disclaimer: I would like to make clear that I am not a trained Montessori teacher and these don’t replace reading up on Montessori’s own works. I created this for myself and am sure it is flawed.They are here to help parents who want to do Montessori in the home but are having trouble grasping where to jump in and where they are supposed to go once they have. It in no way is meant to tell you exactly how to follow the curriculum or what your child is ready for. All children are different and learn at their own pace. It is also probably not comprehensive. I included a detailed list of sources that I drew from. It made more sense for me to combine all of that information into one cohesive, useable, workable document and for my purposes it’s comprehensive enough. It is licensed under Creative Commons. You are welcome to share and change it, however I would appreciate you crediting me where appropriate.

Encouraging Independence: Toilet Learning

Toilet Set UpHoo-boy. Toilet learning has been an experience for us. Most of it is a story for another day, but one aspect we have struggled with is getting Cam to sit on the potty.

When she was very young (8 months) we began sitting her on the potty at various points during the day and she began to actually use the potty. I had three different baby potties, one in each bathroom and one in her bedroom. We were thrilled that she would use the potty and hopeful that it would stick. But it didn’t.

As soon as she could walk there was nothing we could do to persuade her to sit still on the potty for long enough to actually use it. She would walk up, sit and then immediately stand and run off. Then at some point she refused to even sit on any of the baby potties and would cry if we tried. Finally, she began to indicate that she wanted to sit on the grown-up potty by pointing at it and patting it and staying still if we lifted her up to sit on it.

But of course, adult potties are not designed for small children, so we bought a new lid that has a small seat that folds down and is appropriately sized for her. Cam has yet to really use the adult potty but she sits on it several times a day without fussing. She also requests that I read to her while she sits.

Although the situation is not ideal, we have a step that she can climb up and rest her feet on while she sits on the adult toilet. Despite the difficulty I have tried to set it up to make her as independent as possible with this task. I think even if she could get up there by herself, she would still need some supervision and help in the bathroom, so it may not be such a bad thing even if I feel like I am stepping on her independence.

A Montessori Nursery

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From my own research into Montessori infant environments I believe the single most important underlying principle of them is freedom. Freedom to move about. Freedom to explore. Freedom to select toys and materials. There is also a very clean aesthetic and a focus on ownership. The room belongs to the child, not the parent. Which means shelves are low, pictures are hung at child height and furniture (with a few good exceptions) are child-sized.

But, if you are anything like me you need a bit more than abstract principles and a few pictures gleaned from Pinterest to go on for creating an environment. Especially when you are a brand new parent or in the last months of pregnancy. When I decided to go with a Montessori style nursery for our daughter I began looking around for a mix of principles, ideas, and pictures. If you are fortunate enough, you can even attend classes and talk with teachers at your local Montessori school. That was not the case for us, so it was all by the seat of our pants!

I didn’t figure out the Montessori mobiles or what infant materials Montessori created in time to really use them with Cam, but I have since come across this information.¬†For anyone else struggling I’m using this Monday to aggregate some resources I have found for creating infant (first year of life) environments. I hope someone else finds them helpful.

  • Some thoughts on creating an infant environment from North American Montessori Center. This has the Montessori mobile sequence.
  • Here’s a link to a tutorial for a cloth puzzle ball. She also has tutorials for making each of the mobiles.
  • For the very young infant grasping toys are a great thing. Montessori mentions a small silver rattle to begin with, but you can also try these wooden toys or these grasping rings. I have also knit small, medium and large balls for a number of my friends and my daughter. I even put rattles in a few of them just to give them an added element. (The links I’ve added are to places you can buy the toys from, but I have not personally ordered from any of these companies or people so I can’t speak to their service and quality.)
  • Once the child is older, these are the “official” infant toys designed by Montessori, but if you take the ideas behind them (dropping a ball through a hole, threading a ring on a dowel) I think you can find other, less expensive toys that may serve the child longer. (See pages one and two, the rest of the puzzles and the like are not exactly Montessori.)
  • For pictures of some well done Montessori nurseries see my Pinterest board: Montessori Spaces
  • I also would like to note that if you have an IKEA nearby, they are a great resource for inexpensive and flexible furniture. We have A LOT of IKEA furniture and with the exception of the birds tearing it up, we haven’t had any problems with quality.

I will conclude by saying we didn’t go for a full-blown Montessori nursery. We were just a little too late to the game and our house wasn’t (and isn’t) fully¬†remodeled. That made storage tight in the nursery and in other rooms. We eliminated a fair amount of storage, come to think of it. We also took an eye to the future and put in more shelving (such as a reading bench) so the space can grow with Cam. I am always an advocate of striking the right balance of principles and your own lifestyle. So use the resources to help you find what aspects work best for you.

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