Do It Yourself: Montessori Dancer Mobile

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Mobiles seem to be a baby registry essential. I didn’t have one for Sixtine – never even thought of it – and felt quite bad about it after the fact. My friend Rachael  offered me a Gobbi for Sixtine when she was a little over 5 months I believe but I lived in France at the time, she did not have a nursery/room for herself and I thought I would wait until I’d get home. I am sure that it doesn’t matter now but I wanted to make sure that our second child would get a lot of hanging material to look at and observe. I like how you can make up for what you think are “past mistakes” when you have a second baby (or third, or fourth…!).

The Dancer Mobile is a four-part mobile and is about 6.5 inches high. Each dancer is made of a three-part body, which allows for movement. It is introduced at the age of 3/4 months and promotes concentration and hand-eye coordination.

Material:

  • Fishermen’s string
  • Black paper (you may want to use a different color)
  • Metallic paper (you may use a different color)
  • Wooden dowels (10″, 12″ – and a 14″ if you do it like me)
  • Twine (if you hang it my style, otherwise you won’t need it)
  • X-acto knife or scissors
  • Glue
  • Copy paper
  • Safety pin

Instructions:

  • Resize to 7 inches, print and cut out shapes in black and metallic paper.
  • You can use this template from 60 activites Montessori pour mon bebe by Marie-Helene Place.
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  • Glue them together.
  • Using a thick safety pin or needle, poke holes.
  • Tie string.
  • Hang two dancers on the smallest dowel and two others on the medium-sized dowel.
  • Hang them both on the largest dowel using clear thread or fishermen’s string.
  • You are all done.

Moment of honesty:

It didn’t look like much but it took longer than expected to get this done. You might need to make changes accordingly. I poked more holes than the template suggested and I didn’t hang the dowels as the book suggested either. I did what felt natural to me. Instead of using a third dowel, I managed to tie the two dowels together. It didn’t prevent Victoire from enjoying her mobile. In fact, it was so appealing that her sister, Sixtine, enjoyed it too much and dismounted it. It was heartbreaking…and since I didn’t have the heart to put it all back together, my husband did it – with his own touch.

Let me see how yours turns out! 

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Toddler Practical Life: Clothespins

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Sixtine had the opportunity to experience clothespins a few days ago. It is part of Practical Life in the Montessori curriculum and it helps develop pincer grip (which will later be helpful for writing). I used a small basket filled with clothespins and a plastic bowl. This activity wasn’t a success – Sixtine pinched her finger and was a little nervous at the thought of trying again. She quickly realized that the clothespins could stay on the edge of the bowl without pinching. And she seemed happy with herself. I tried to show her again the mechanism: squeeze, line up, relax grip in vain. She quickly showed lack of interest. I will try again another time but with a different bowl – I wonder if the edge was too thick and therefore, harder to work with?

Toddler Years: Handling Tantrums

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Putting her blocks away without being prompted.

Sixtine is a very bright, wild, energetic and strong-willed little girl. She loves her newly found independence but still needs a lot of attention. I think the hardest part of being 20 months (for my baby anyway) is that she is torn between wanting to be her own individual and needing us – just as much as her 3 months old sister does, but differently.

She has gone through moving out of the country twice, being away from her father half her life in total, changing homes, language, entourage, routine and last but not least, a difficult pregnancy (modified bed rest, hospitalization) and a new baby in the family. Sprinkle with a typical 20-month old attitude and you have a clear picture of what we are going through right now.

She is craving for stability, routine and order which is why the Montessori approach works so well for us. Look at her putting her blocks away at the exact same place! She seems so concentrated and content. I was actually extremely surprised to see that she knew to empty her dirty clothes basket in her sister’s hamper.

One thing though, she is amazing with her baby sister. She kisses her, holds her hand, tells her not to cry, tell her “go” when she wants her to nurse, pour water on her head during bath time (gently – she means to help), shares her toys, will pull my hand when “Coco” is up so I can attend to her right the second ( I think she hears her better than I do ;)…and the list goes on!

However, I have been finding it really hard to keep my cool lately. She whines and cries a lot more than usual, and can be defiant as well. I am not as patient either and I suppose she can feel it too. What I usually do is I will explain to her that I am not happy with her behaviour and will have her sit on a cushion. She knows she has to stay on it until I go get her (usually a couple minutes) and I tell her to think about what happened. She usually gets very offended and cries, eventually, when I come back, I ask her if she is sorry and she will answer: “Yeah” and give me a big cuddle and kisses. It usually works – but for big tantrums, I am totally at lost.

I know I should ignore them but it is easier said than done – raising two young children alone, I have very little time for myself, I get frustrated and tired, I get to miss my husband (and I know Sixtine misses her Daddy so much it breaks my heart) who goes away for work, and at the end of the day, we are all very tensed.

She has also been fighting against wearing diapers but also won’t sit on the toilets. I guess she just wants to say: I want to make decision for myself. And she can make some decisions; I offer choices when possible but it isn’t always.

It makes me very emotional just thinking of it – I love my baby so much and I wish things were smoother between the two of us…

I know that spending quality time together makes a difference – and I sincerely feel that I do that but maybe not as much as she would like – but I would really like to hear how you are going through the toddler stage or how you got through it.

ps: I need a serious plan for potty training. (I can’t let her run around naked anymore as we have mostly carpet in the house!)

Sixtine’s Montessori Toddler Room

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[Banner by My Little Day] I have been working on posting about Sixtine’s room for a while. There wasn’t much to show at first: Sixtine just moved to the guest room as Victoire, her baby sister has now taken over her infant room. Her new room is a nice size and I think she will be happy in it for years to come (providing we stay in this house). We decided to paint the walls (egg shell white) as the previous color wasn’t acceptable for a child her age (very excitable color). She is very happy in her new room – love the space. I will call it Montessori-inspired rather than truly Montessori. In my opinion, a Montessori room should be simple, natural yet pretty and accessible for the child. I feel that I managed to do that even though I still have lots in mind for this room. But I need time and money to achieve the ideal room I want for my daughter.

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Low-bed or floor bed. This is I believe the “essence” of a Montessori room. The transition from a crib to a floor-bed was quick and she adjusted very well. She stays in bed during naps and bedtime and gets really excited to get into it. So much space and so much fun. She seems so little in her big girl’s bed but she is so happy! I like to sit on the rug and read books or cuddle. [Bedding+ Rug: Ikea. Pillow cover: Maison du Monde]

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Low shelving. [Ikea] Night lamp [Local souvenir shop from PEI], little rug for night time cuddles and reading stories [from cousin Ava], little hen [from Juliette, Obaibi], basket containing three books – I change them every other week depending on interest, bead maze [from Sherry and Trent], pattern blocks [Oxybul France], Melissa & Doug farm puzzle, and wooden cars. I realize now that she has very few toys and I am hoping to be able to change time in the near future. We do lots at home but she doesn’t have many toys per se.

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Learning/Art corner. The biscuits box [bought in Paris during our last trip] contains crayons and crayolas. The rabbit picture is a beautiful painting by Albrecht Durer “The Young Hare”. Pictures of butterfly and birds found on the internet (she loves birds!), and a file-organizer by Martha Stewart – for paper, coloring pages, construction paper.

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Changing table/Drawer. Montessori experts would probably “disagree” with the idea of a changing table. nd Sixtine has been showing signs of potty learning readiness, we will soon change that and move the toilet area (diaper/wipes etc) to the bathroom. But so far, it has been very handy. My husband like to change her on the floor which is more appropriate with the approach – I just like to be standing to do her hair and change her diaper. First two drawers contain diapers, skin products, underwear and socks. Last two contain things that I don’t want her to have access to just now but that are for her (mostly art and crafts items).

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PJ Hanger [by Maison du monde]. She loves that taste of independence.

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Care of self corner. It is located in the family bathroom. I fill up the bowl with water in the morning/in the evening to wash her face and hands and at different times of day when the need arises. She also loves to brush and comb her hair. Even though Mama has to help with a “proper” brush to make her hair nice (she has very curly hair). I had to take away her toothbrush and toothpaste as she would run around in the house with it (and it eventually was put in the garbage!) So I had to get a new one and blablabla.

So what is your opinion? Any suggestions? Would love to get a tour of your nursery/toddler/child room! If you have ever posted about it, please link in comment.