… we develop our intelligence by learning through our five senses, and particularly through the relationship between the hand and the brain. In recognition of the building of the intelligence through this feedback loop of information from the hand to brain and back again, Montessori stated that nothing should be given to the brain that is not first given to the hand. By this she meant that abstract ideas and information of every possible kind should be given to the young child first in concrete form to be held, discovered, and explored. Montessori From The Start
The activities on our shelves at the moment are all based on this concept of working with the hand and the brain to promote learning. Over the last few months I have observed Althea go from a newborn whose arms and hands would work in involuntary ways, to an infant with a hand that seemed to be incapable of performing functions separate from the arm (an ‘arm-hand’), to a 6 month old able to grasp objects (full palm grasp) and finally an 8 month old who can quite easily pick up the tiniest specks of dirt with her thumb and forefinger… and then get them in her mouth. I’m impressed to say the least.
I added these two DIY Montessori Inspired Materials as they are great for working on her hand eye coordination and grasping ability. The aim of the first material (both parts from Daiso) is to simply place the ball inside the basket (the concept is similar to the Montessori box and cube, but a little easier as there are no corners). The first time I presented this to Althea I did not use the tray as I felt this would be too distracting for her, I simply left the ball inside the basket on her shelve. She artfully mastered the ability to take the ball out of the basket (she’s definitely very good at taking stuff out!) but she didn’t place the ball back inside, she felt it was better placed in her mouth. The next day I presented the ball and basket separately and modelled placing the ball back inside the basket. Since then she has shown a lot of interest in both materials but hasn’t yet out it back in, so I’ll leave it out for the rest of this week and see how she goes.
The second material is the IKEA MULA Stacker with wooden bangles from the craft store. Althea showed lots of interest in the Stacking Rings and was able to tip it up so all the pieces came off, she would then explore the different rings and occassionally make, what looked like, an attempt to put them back on. I swapped the original rings out for these bangles because the bigger opening allows Althea to remove them one by one with her hands rather than having to tip them off and then she can also put them back on more easily when she’s ready.
I would love to hear about some of your DIY Montessori materials/activities!