Sometime between 8 and 9 months Heidi mastered sitting independently, which means she can get into the position herself and she can safely stay in that position indefinitely. She can also motor herself around, which she largely does by army crawling. Little one will drag herself all over the house with just her arms.
So what do our Montessori shelves look like right now?
This is the stage where shelf work really gets fun. Heidi can now make her way to the shelf, choose “work” and manipulate it independently. A lot of the objects we have out at this stage are interactive; pulling something out, pushing something, putting things together. We still have out the exploration baskets from the 6-9 months stage for general object properties exploration as well; currently we have a basket of balls (a montessori ball, the Oball, Lovevery weighted balls from the Thinker Play Kit, and these Infantino sensory balls) and a basic of percussion instruments (her favorite is the roller drum which someone brought back from their travels to Aruba).
In addition to the baskets and shelves, Heidi spends a lot of time pulling herself around the house (or yard) in hot pursuit of her sisters; always trying to see what they are up to. She will explore any object she comes into contact with while on the move, so this has been a time period of baby-proofing as we try to make the entire first floor a yes space for her to move around. This has included hiding loose cords, moving the cats’ food and water dishes out of reach, moving some of her sisters’ small objects up out of reach, and installing a baby gate at the top of the stairs.
Top Shelf Left to Right:
1. The O-Ball she has simply been grasping until recently got an upgrade. I stuck a fabric tissue inside for her to pull out, which is great for working on that pincer grasp.
2. This is a beautiful set from Essential Montessori including the Egg and Cup, Peg and Cup and Interlocking Discs. All working on refining those fine motor skills. Really the Peg and Cup would be next steps after the Egg and Cup, but I left them out together because the girls have been using them for pretend play as well.
3. This is a small set of wooden stacking stones for our Lovevery Thinker Play Kit (11-12 months).
4. I love these stacking cups we got from the girls’ Aunt! After a lot of digging, I found a link to them here. We skipped the Lovevery Inspector Play Kit (7-8 months) because we already had a lot of the items that came in that play kit. Their stacking cups are actually really similar. I like the grooves along the rim that help hold the stack in place. I also really like how many there are. My older girls still use these daily in their pretend play as cups, bowls and more.
Bottom Shelf Left to Right:
1. The Spinning Rainbow from the Lovevery Sensor Play Kit (5-6 months). Heidi really likes playing with this. I think it’s great for encouraging tummy time in those early months and reaching with both hands. But she still really enjoys spinning it and hearing the rattling sound it makes now that she is mostly upright. The older girls also like to pretend it is a lawn mower and push it all over the house.
2. This is a small wooden ring stacker starting with just the first ring on it. I have searched high and low for a wooden ring stacker with a control of error (the post in the middle increasing in diameter so only the correct ring will fit all the way down). I ordered this one because it appeared to do this, but honestly I was disappointed when it arrived because the rings are so loose that it completely negates the widening of the post. It’s fine for now as she works on the concept of placing a single ring, but I will be on the hunt for a slightly different one (likely a vintage Fisher Price) once she moves on to size discrimination.
3. The Magic Tissue Box from the Lovevery Sensor Play Kit (5-6 months). I really like this box, which has a stretchy top that one can reach in and pull stuff out of. Right now it has fabric tissues in it for Heidi to pull out and perfect her pincer grasp, but I also see repurposing for other activities such as blind exploration of different textures.
4. Sliding Top Box from the Lovevery Inspector Play Kit (11-12 months). This is a more advanced version of the Object Performance box because the ball disappears once dropped through the hole and you have to slide the top to retrieve it. Heidi likes playing back and forth (take turns) with me with this and is still working on lining the ball up correctly.
5. Classic Object Performance Box. This is the introductory ball drop where the ball falls through the hole and rolls out visible again. I got this along with the more challenging Coin Box (which I expect to bring out again when Heidi is 12-15 months) from Elite Montessori on Amazon (linked above). But this is another example of how much I love the Lovevery Play Kits because they have these in their Inspector Play Kit (7-8 months) and Babbler Play Kit (13-15 months).
6. This is a vintage pop-up toy. You manipulate the levers in different ways to get the characters to pop up, manually push back down and repeat. This is an example of a plastic toy win in my opinion. It is a great cause and effect toy. This is another lingerer from the 6-9 month shelves that Heidi still really enjoys.
PS: If you are interested in how to DIY similar built-in shelves, check out my blog post on our IKEA Billy Bookcase hack.
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