Below are types of materials that can be utilised at home for infants.
A Window/Mirror/Pet Watching
As simple as it gets – set bub up on a floor mat with a view! It could be as simple as shadows on a wall, a nearby window, sitting near you, etc. This makes tummy time more enjoyable and helps bub build their concept of the world around them.
This material is arguably one of the most famous Montessori infant activities. The Mobiles that Dr Montessori recommends follow a set sequence and are specifically made using scientific measurements (as described in the previous module). These mobiles follow the development of the child’s vision from contrast of black and white, to movements, to differentiation of tone/shades of colour and proceed to include motor movements such as ‘batting’ and grasping. You don’t need to spend hundreds on these mobiles and they can be quite difficult to try and replicate yourself. With mobiles it’s ok to keep it simple but keep in mind these simple factors: Keep it out of your baby’s reach unless you are right there beside them and you are using it as a batting/grasping activity, position the mobile above the baby’s chest – not above their face, only keep the mobile up for as long as the baby is interested in actively looking at it then take it away, make sure the mobile is attractive from the bottom – your baby is looking at it from underneath not side on like you are!
Little bubbas love grasping toys! Here are a few of my favourites. Children love the feel of natural wooden objects over plastic. These are sized perfectly for an infant’s hands. The bells are soft sounding and not jarring if shaken close to the ears, these are also quite light. Always remember to check all materials before each use for defects, missing/loose or broken parts and always monitor for safety!
Open and closing objects
Have a basket with a few different objects for your child to open and close. Demonstrate how to open and close each item in a slow and deliberate manner first and ensure your child is competent in this skill before you leave it for them on the shelf. You could include duplo doors, lunch boxes – anything really! Try to include different ‘types’ of opening – twist tops, click tops, flick tops, latches, etc.
Introduction to Colours
Mix up some different colours of liquid (for example food colouring in water) in some clear robust containers and let bub investigate them. You can also name each colour and use it as a language lesson, but simply letting them explore the liquid inside the container is a fulfilling enough activity.
Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for sensory bins that you can make at home, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here I simply put sequins and toys in rice and that was a fun activity. Remember to supervise closely if your bub is still mouthing items and if they are, adjust what you use in the bins so it is safe for them. Some examples you could do are toys hidden in dough, cooked pasta or sand.
Spinning tops placed just out of reach are a great encouragement to young bubbas to slither or crawl forwards. For older children they provide a good core, arm and shoulder strengthening exercise to make them work (especially the bigger ones!). You can also use snow globes or music boxes just out of reach to encourage forward movement.
Give your little one access to simple instruments that they can experiment with such as drums, a triangle, shakers, maracas, tambourines, xylophones. At this stage, experimentation is what you are aiming for, not technique or learning notes, rhythms etc.
You can use opaque containers that are identical and half fill them with different ‘sounding’ items such as rice, sugar and chunky pasta. Using opaque containers ensures that you are isolating and focusing on the sound only as this is the only thing that is different between each object.
For a variation of this, fill clear containers so your child can see the objects move around and explore how they move differently and not just sound different.
Ring on a Rocking Base
Ever wondered why the plastic rings have a rocking base? Most people set it up how it is pictured below – rocking side to side. BUT, it should be set up so it rocks forwards and back away from your little bubba. Why? Because little bubbas don’t have the flexibility and control in their wrists to bend it when they initially start using this material. By having the ring base rocking away from the body it allows the rod to move away too so the bubba can slide the rings on and off without bending their wrist. Start with one ring, the biggest, at first then add more rings as bub’s skill progresses.
Basket of Balls
This one is exactly what it sounds like – a basket with different types of balls for bub to experiment with. Not all balls will roll or travel the same and it’s fun for bub to explore that.
Basket of ‘Chewy Things’
This activity is perfect for bubs that like to mouth things or that are teething. Have a few different chewable objects out on the shelf ready to go!