Friday, 31 March 2017

Montessori Challenge - Toys

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This month, we've taken a step away from looking at specific areas of the house and instead are focusing on toys. While we don't follow Montessori principals strictly, I do find that when I present Baobao's toys in a Montessori manner, she is more drawn to them.

This week, I have been observing Baobao carefully while she plays, noting how she plays and which games she enjoys the most. I've used Carine's Bathroom Questions and these posts at The Kavanaugh Report and How We Montessori to make my own toy questions:

  • Observe the room and how your child is using it. Every time your child asks for help (or when you go and help him without asking), try to see what prevents him to do it by himself.
  • Depending of your child's age, encourage your child to be independent regarding self-care. As rule of thumb, if your child walks, he can attempt most of his self-care needs with little support.
  • What is your position on toys - plastic? battery operated toys? characters? realism? - and only keep those that fit
  • What purpose does the toy serve? Does it serve a similar purpose to a different toy? Can it be replaced with a real life task - eg real life cleaning replacing toy cleaning tools.

  • Baobao has become increasingly overwhelmed by the number of toys recently, even though we only just purged in December. She seems to prefer fewer toys and thrives in a more physical play space. Her favourite independent play activity is her kitchen and since she helps daily to make her meals and snacks, as well as baking once a week, we have decided not to purge her toy kitchen. As I am writing this, she is making tea using smiley face stickers that she received at a toddler group for Easter.

    As for our position on toys, I'm sure you've already guessed. No plastic, battery operated or character toys. Preferably all natural, ethically produced items. Our main deviation from Montessori is that we don't really need our toys to be realistic. Our animals are wooden, from German brand Holztiger, our play people are peg dolls, primarily Grimms Rainbow Friends and our baby doll is a Nanchen Waldorf doll.

    Here are some of the changes we have made:

    Changes pre-challenge:
    • You can see our original toy purge here
    Challenge inspired changes:
    • Further reduced toys out on rotation, to help Baobao feel less overwhelmed
    • Removed toys that she has mastered
    • Put away puzzles and toys that are too difficult
    • Reduced amount of art materials available at any given time
    Possible future changes:
    • Replace one 2x2 Kallax with a PS 2017 shelving unit so that we can fit all of Baobao's toys on one shelving unit
    • Get some mini trays, small trays and matching baskets(here and here) to present toys in a visually appealing manner
    • Make a treasure basket for Baobao and later Xiaobao to use, like these (here and here)
    • Replace Baobao's building blocks, with more natural looking blocks. Such as these from Grimms (here or here

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