Montessori Philosophy Feed

Montessori 3🅿️🌠 Three Period Lesson in Action (using 1st of 6 Phonetical Set: s m a t)

Almost every Montessori lesson (from Language to Geography to Math) is presented as a 3🅿️🌠Three Period Lesson, which is proven to afford a child optimum assimilation of a learning material. The presentation can be very confusing🤔(trust me, I have been there), but when you break it down, it is real simple. So, Montessori 3🅿️🌠Three Period Lesson in a Nutshell (I wrote 🔖these little cards everywhere.)


(1P) This is ______.           (2P) Will you show me ______?         (3P) What is this?  

DSC_0072

In a Montessori language curriculum, alphabet letters are not first presented to a child in an alphabetical order, like A, B, C, D etc. The idea is to introduce the letters phonetically (the way they sound) rather than by the name. Phonetical order is proven to be very effective in allowing children to quickly form as many words as possible when learning the letter sounds. There are few orders suggested, and we are following the order suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin (buy the book here - a Montessori -beginner must have book.)

The complete order is:

First set: c  m  a  t 

Second set: s  r  i  p

Third set: b  f  o  g 

Fourth set: h  j  u  l

Fifth set: d  w  e  n

Sixth set: k  q  v  x  y  z. 

In a video below, for illustrative purposes using the first set: c - m - a -  t, Adrian is demonstrating the 3🅿️🌠 Three-Period Lesson: 

DSC_0072

We are using this Small Wooden Movable Alphabet.

DSC_0072

"C" - cow, cat, car.


DSC_0091
"A" - apple, alligator (we used crocodile), ant.

 

DSC_0094"M" - moose, monkey (buy here, we used baby chimpanzee), mouse.



DSC_0072"T" - for turtle/tortoise, tiger, tow-truck
 

DSC_0091

3🅿️🌠 Three Period Lesson in details:

1st Period (1P): Introduction/Naming: allow the child to touch/feel/smell the item.“This is ______." Describe as much as you can: tasty, green, sweet, sharp, small etc. For example, if you introduce movable alphabet, repeat the sound the letter makes several times during the first period. 

2nd Period (2P): Recognition/Association: the second period is the most important and should last the longest. During this period the child is actively engaged in a process. You may use different phrases to facilitate the response to your question such as:  "Will you show me____?", "hand me/can you pass me,"  "Where is____?" , "can you point to__", "put __ on the tray", "return __ to the shelf.” If your child has difficulty, simply start with the first period again. 

With smaller children it is advisable to incorporate movement: "Can you put____ on the chair?" or "Can you bring____ to Mommy? Once all the items are placed somewhere else, ask the child "Can you bring____  back on the carpet?"  The younger the child, the shorter should be the distance you let them walk with the item. (They should be able to find the item and bring it back again.) But, the older the child, the farther you can let them walk with the item. Children usually love placing items in different places and then bring them back again later. Such activity lets them build a stronger relationship between the object and its name.

3rd Period (3P): Independent learning/Recall: you would point to or hold the item: “What is this?” If the child can answer the third period, s/he has completed the Three-Period -Lesson. By engaging your child and asking questions, we facilitate active learning rather than mere passive listening. (We all know that it is possible to "listen" without really listening if your mind wonders about something else.) The idea is that if the child can reiterate the third -period: "This is letter B,", then the child is at the same level as the teacher/parent who started with the first-period, telling the child for the first time: "This is letter B", and such completes the circle. 

  • It is advisable with smaller children to present no more than three objects at a time. Once you complete the Three-Period-Lesson with these three objects, you can offer three new objects, starting with first -period again. 
  • Also, if a child makes a mistake, rather than correcting, reiterate the lesson. For example, if, to your question: “Will you show me 2?" the child points to 1, you may proceed by saying: “This is 1, This is 2. Will you show me 2?” 

Good luck and be patient. This really works!

DSC_0072

We are using this Small Wooden Movable Alphabet.

Read here the post about Second Phonetical Order Set: s  r  i  p.

Read more about our Language curriculum in our Letter Series post here.  


Dr. Maria Montessori's Planes (Stages) of Development

Dr. Maria Montessori observed human beings going through what she called the four distinct "planes" or stages of development, where each plane has distinct characteristics and offers unique opportunities for learning.  During the childhood (which lasts through age 12), the child goes through two planes of development: First Plane of the development of self as an individual (Birth to 6 yrs) as an Absorbent Mind (unconscious absorbent mind till 3 yrs and conscious from 3-6 yrs); and Second Plane of development of the social being (6-12 yrs) as a Social Explorer. Adolescence encompasses the Third Plane (12-18 yrs) where the construction of Social Self transpires. Adulthood completes the Fourth Plane (18-24 yrs), where mature personality becomes a Specialized ExplorerThe complete development of the adult human being requires that the specific needs of each of these planes are satisfied.

Each plane has specific sensitivities or "windows of opportunities"  that facilitate the acquisition of a particular human trait, for example a sensitivity to the acquisition of language in the first plane (0-6 yrs), or the development of a moral self in the second plane (6-12 yrs). In addition to these age-specific sensitivities, humans have behavioral tendencies, such as to explore, create, manipulate, repeat, and communicate, that have been crucial to human evolution and are active within the child. 

“Only through freedom and environmental experience it is practically possible for human development to occur” Maria Montessori. 

Dr. Montessori introduced several concepts to explain her work, including the absorbent mind, sensitive periods, normalization, and others. She also referred child’s experience at times of intense concentration as “flow” or "child’s work".

The book Montessori From the Start is has wealth of pertinent information on planes of development from birth to age three. I have used many sources to compile this summary, including the above-mentioned book, and I hope you find it informative and easy to follow. 

Planes

CHILDHOOD (1 -12 yrs) encompasses first two planes of development, where by the age of 12, a human being develops into a completely formed child.

  1. First Plane (Birth to 6 yrs) is a period of the Absorbent Mind which is characterized by "young child's behavior of quickly and effortlessly assimilating the sensorial stimuli of his or her environment, including information from the senses, language, culture, and the development of concepts." The child is self-observed, has self-centered viewpoint, is focused primarily on sensorial exploration of a factual world.  The child is seen as a concrete, sensorial explorer and learner engaged in the developmental work of psychological self-construction and of building functional independence.  Materials are prepared mainly for individual use by a child; children work near each other, spontaneously helping younger ones, and learning how to behave respectfully in a group. Dr. Montessori believed that this power is unique to the first plane, and that it fades as the child approached the age of 6.
    1. 0 – 3 yrs   “psychic embryonic period,” the 1,000 days that count, is the period of the “unconscious creator”. Paralleling the physical embryonic period in uterus during pregnancy, the child is forming into what will later be developed. The child is constructing the "self" by using the senses (hands, eyes, ears, and nose) to soak in everything that surrounds him. The child learns naturally, spontaneously, effortlessly and without conscious awareness (without thought or choice), and as such is said to functions with the "unconscious" absorbent mind. "The child's mind is like a sponge, soaking up and absorbing everything in their environment, and using all that is absorbed unconsciously during this time to construct their knowledge of how the world works." Also, the process of Myelination is crucial at this period, where a protective myelin sheath of insulation (soft white fatty coating) is formed around the nerve fibers, allowing electrochemical messages to travel from the brain to the mussels. Without the development of the myelin sheath (a gradual process that takes place on a different timetable for different parts of the body) infant cannot activate his muscles. Notably, myelinization creates movement and movement creates the formation of myelin, so the more movement the infant is afforded, the faster is the process of myelination. 
      • 2-18 monthsNido (or 'Nest' in Italian) is a Montessori warm, caring environment for infants from 2-18 months.
      • Child's Development (please note that children might achieve certain developmental milestones earlier or later and still be considered within the normal range since “the child’s progress does not depend only on his age, but also on being free to look around him." So, as parents, "to assist a child, we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely ... Plainly, the environment must be a living one, directed by a higher intelligence, arranged by an adult who is prepared for his mission " Maria Montessori.  
        •  1st month: an infant can not hold his head yet;
        • at 3 months: can raise his head and chest when on a stomach; can grab objects and shake toys;
        • at 4 months: purposeful hand; can roll from back to front and from front to back; possibly scooting;
        • at 7 months: can sit up and/or push up to sitting;
        • at 8 months: maintains sitting without support; also at this point the child will be either be (a) a "sitter" and thus talk earlier; Or (b) a "crawler"
        • at 9 months: install an infant bar/handrail (1.5-2”in diameter and 14” from the floor) & low shelving to facilitate pulling to standing;
        • at 12 months: can crawl and pull to standing, can cruise, stand alone, walk by hand (after several months of pulling up, a child will find Walker Wagon useful).
      • Hand Development
        • 0-2 months: reflexive grasp – can bring objects to his body, but not intentionally; can not bend the wrist as “arm-hand” sweeps and scoops as one;
        • 2 months: reflexive grasp diminishes, but intentional grasp is not yet fully developed (the myelination of nerve fibers controlling the arm and hand is still incomplete, making an intentional grasp neurologically impossible);
        • 3-5 months: infant’s prehension becomes purposeful; can intentionally reach and grasp; might even accidentally interlock his hands and then jerk them apart; can purposefully close his hand around an object to gain information about it for his brain, so installing tactile mobiles for grasping, batting and holding should prove beneficial;
        • 6 months: infant is capable of (a) hand-to-hand transfer: purposefully moving an item from right to left hand; (b) flat pincer grip while using 4 straight fingers with the opposite thumb (Note: it is neurologically possible to have full pincer grasp, but infant needs to refine the movement via repetition and practice); there is not much wrist development yet – baby is still using the whole arm movement with an arm and hand acting as one, so the child can shake and bang objects, but without the wrist movement;
        • 7-8 months: myelinaiton makes it possible for the baby to control his fingers;
        • 9-10 months:  child achieves finger-thumb position that is capable of precise movements;
        • at 15 months: hand and brain development is complete;  Practical Life Activities like washing a carrot can be intrduced;
        • at 18 months: a child should be able to peel a carrot.
    2. 3– 6 yrs: conscious absorbent mind” -  "conscious worker”- while the child from 0-3 has absorbed his environment, the child from 3-6 wants to make sense of it.  Having done the work of self construction, the child now wants to master his environment - the child begins to intentionally direct and focus his attention on experiences that have been created during the first three years of life. “It is as if the child, having absorbed the world by an unconscious kind of intelligence, now ‘lays his hands’ to it.”   Now it is the hand as a ‘prehensile organ of the mind,’ not just the senses, which move the child through a period of constructive ‘perfectionment’ – refining the acquisitions already made. Dr. Montessori also defined a psychological state she termed  "normalization" (in children from 3 to 6 years old) which arises from concentration and focus on activity which serves the child’s developmental needs, and is characterized by the ability to concentrate as well as "spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others.")
  2. Second Plane : from 6 - 12 yrs  children become Social Explorers, having intense interest in issues of good and evil; justice and injustice; loyalty and disloyalty; rules and ritual of the group. Dr. Montessori called this period an “Intellectual Period” where the child is capable of abstract and imaginative thoughts. Also, the child becomes fascinated with his “cosmic task” and the role s/he plays in continuing story of human understanding and transformation of the universe. The child now becomes interested in others - the peers, and s/he develops the ability to work constructively with several classmates at a time. The child exhibits genuine curiosity and the desire to understand on a deeper level the thoughts and activities of others. There is a strong desire to get along with others and do things together, but children still work primarily in small groups. During this plane, Dr. Montessori observed changes in a child: (a) physically:  the loss of baby teeth and the lengthening of the legs and torso at the beginning of the plane, and a period of uniform growth following; (b) psychologically, she observed the "herd instinct", or the tendency to work and socialize in groups, as well as the powers of reason and imagination; (c) developmentally, she believed the work of the second plane child is the formation of intellectual independence, of moral sense, and of social organization.
    • at 6-9 yrs Cosmic Education is introduced -  a holistic education about the universe and how all parts of the cosmos are interconnected and interdependent. The children learn a series of Five Great Stories about the universe, its galaxies, the solar system, Earth and the evolution of man. They begin to see themselves as a part of a global community and learn about the responsibilities that come with that. 
  3.  ADOLESCENCE: Third Plane (12 - 18 yrs) is characterized by a construction of the Social Self. Psychological characteristics are geared to helping adolescents determine how the members of other global societies live and fulfill their human needs. Also, at this point, the desire to have mentors outside one's immediate family would emerge. Dr. Montessori characterized the third plane by the physical changes of puberty and adolescence, and psychological instability and difficulties in concentration of this age, as well as the creative tendencies and the development of "a sense of justice and a sense of personal dignity." She used the term "valorization" to describe the adolescents' drive for an externally derived evaluation of their worth. Developmentally, Dr. Montessori believed that the work of the third plane child is the construction of the adult self in society.
    • YOUNG ADOLESCENTS (12-15 yrs) are very self-centered and self absorbed once again. They think everyone is noticing each small details about them and that whatever happens (right or wrong) is because of their action or lack of them. Dr. Montessori pointed out to the importance of close one-to-one adult attention, just as in the first three years of life during the unconscious absorbent mind.
      • Known in German as 'child of the earth' the Erdkinder is a Montessori learning environment for the adolescents (12-15 years old), which is often in a farm-like or agricultural setting where adolescents learn to contribute through life-based education and have the opportunity to explore how society really works. It is centered on real economic participation in the society. Mental and physical work are linked and the areas of cultural knowledge, which is traditionally separated into abstract subjects - are all integrated and linked to real world experiences. 
  4. ADULTHOOD:  Fourth Plane (18 - 24 yrs) is characterized by the construction of self-understanding, while becoming a Specialized Explorer. Our most advanced reasoning and knowledge, including wisdom, resides in the frontal lobes of a human brain. And, since the foundational neural structures of the frontal lobes are not completed until the age of 24, it only at 24, we consider the adult to be fully formed. Dr. Montessori wrote comparatively little about this period and did not develop an educational program for this age. She envisioned young adults prepared by their experiences in Montessori education at the lower levels ready to fully embrace the study of culture and the sciences in order to influence and lead the civilization. She believed that economic independence in the form of work for money was critical for this age, and felt that an arbitrary limit to the number of years in university level study was unnecessary, as the study of culture could go on throughout a person's life.

Adrian's 3rd Birthday (Montessori Celebration of Life)

Celebrating Adrian's 3rd Birthday the "Montessori style".

What do children expect from a birthday?

A party with gifts, balloons, a cake, and lots of people - some of whom they might be meeting for the first time, like distant relatives or parent's friends. The birthday child might also have many children attending, despite the slightest chance of being able to devote enough attention to each. So, when you ask a child what does his "birthday" mean, it is rare that he would think that it is the day he parted from the warmth of his Mom's tummy and that turning one would mean that 365 days have passed since then. 

To resolve such discrepancy, the Montessori approach aims to introduce a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what a birthday truly means. For a toddler, an abstract concept such as the day of his birthday is explained as a relationship between the Earth and the Sun: a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to circle around the Sun once.

DSC_0052

Smaller children celebrate Montessori Birthday by "walking the Earth", where a birthday child is given a globe that represents the Earth.

DSC_0046

A sun (or a candle) is placed in the middle, and a circle is drawn on the floor either with a ribbon (like what we did), a masking tape, or a rope representing the orbit the Earth makes around the Sun. A child, while holding the globe, would slowly walk the line on the floor, realizing that the globe stands for the planet he lives on - the Earth; and that every time the Earth goes all the way around the Sun, one whole year is passing by. "It takes one year for the Earth to go around the Sun one time - that is when you celebrate your birthday: when the Earth had completed its round."  You may also talk about seasons and months. Adrian's birthday is in the Fall, and that is where he would start his journey from.

DSC_0054A parent will tell a story of child's life as the child slowly walks around the Sun while holding the globe. 

At the beginning of the celebration, I would say: "Adrian is just beginning his journey with the Earth around the Sun. He has not been born yet." Then, while inviting the child to take one step forward, I would say: "Now, Adrian was born: he was this tiny  _ , weighing _ ,  and only _ inches long. Adrian made Mommy and Daddy the happiest people on Earth!"  You may want to show a picture of a child as a newborn baby or anything memorable from that period. 

DSC_0033-001Adrian was so thrilled to see an ultrasound picture of himself!

Then, invite the child to walk all the way around the Sun: "Adrian is now celebrating his first birthday with his family." Again, you may want to share pictures or anything of sentimental value pertaining to the child's first birthday and prior to that. 

A birthday child will "walk around the Sun" as many times, as the years of his/her life so far. "Adrian is now three years old, and today is his birthday! The Earth has gone three times around the Sun. Three years have gone by since Adrian was born." 

At the end of a celebration, you may want to sing a birthday song, and let the child make a wish and blow the candle.

To make the celebration personal, I made time capsules for each year, including pictures and sentimental objects such as a favorite toy, some art, a lock of hair, first tooth, or anything that represents a memory during that year. This way, the child can look through these capsules each birthday, reminiscing about the years that have gone by. I do not keep the time capsules accessible all the time since I believe the specialness of them would be lost, but others suggest keeping them accessible should the child decide to look through them whenever he/she wishes.

DSC_0036-001I arranged everything in columns by year: newborn, 1-year-old; 2 years, 3 years.

Newborn:

DSC_0036-001Newborn till one-year-old: mittens, rattle, socks with a bell inside, the first cup, an egg in a peg ...

DSC_0057"Oh, my cup! I missed it!" He exclaimed.
DSC_0057"Was this mine?"
DSC_0057
"I had such tiny hands!"

DSC_0068"This barely fits on my toes now!"


1 Year Old:

DSC_0039-001When Adrian turned one, we visited Disney, so seeing Mickey for the first time was very impactful!

DSC_0075Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.

DSC_0075

We also looked through a photo album: Adrian was one year old on those pictures.


2 Years Old:
DSC_0036-001Turning two was all about BRIO & Lego! Not to mention the obsession with firetrucks and cars! 

DSC_0070"This fits better!"

DSC_0070BRIO is his favorite toy still!


3 Years Old:
DSC_0036-001During the past year, Adrian started to shift away from constantly needing me, to wanting to be with Julia all the time! They do everything together now, and their connection grew stronger and deeper.

DSC_0075Looking through a photo album: "I was a giraffe on Halloween - I was so cute!"

DSC_0076-001And we do enjoy birthday parties with balloons, friends, cupcakes, and gifts! It is just not all we do:)

My children also look forward to cuddling under a blanket and looking through a photo book with pictures when they were smaller, re-connecting with much-loved objects and toys, and reminiscing about what was the most memorable experience of each year. So, to us, it is a time to be grateful for what we have by remembering all the good that has happened in prior years. It is a time to learn from our mistakes if any were made. It is a time to appreciate the current moment: we have peace, health, and a loving family, and we feel truly blessed! It is also a time to look forward and plan the future, time to set aspiring goals, and time to pledge to live in love, harmony, and peace. 


DSC_0076-001HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY My Sunshine!

You brought such meaning to all of our lives! We love you so much!!!

Birthday parties and gifts are a great addition to a child's birthday, but in my opinion, they cannot be the entire focus of the birthday celebration forgetting the true meaning of the day of birth. Montessori approach helps us make it a day of reflection and appreciation, a moment to make wishes and build dreams, and a time to be together with loved and dear ones and doing what you want most! So, we asked Adrian what would he like to do for his birthday, and he said he would like to go pumpkin picking at the farm. And that is what we did ... 

DSC_0039-001Read here about Pumpkin picking at a Farm (Birthday wish come true).

 Read here about Julia's 7th Birthday celebration as an elementary student at her Montessori school. 


Julia's 7th Birthday (Montessori Celebration of Life)

What do most children expect from a Birthday Party? Gifts, balloons, party decorations, and a lot of sugar in a form of a dessert :) Montessori approach on the other hand, aims to introduce a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what a birthday truly means. Little children cannot comprehend abstract ideas very well. So, telling them the date of their  birthday is as abstract to them as quantum leap to us, the adults. Instead, during a Montessori celebration, a child is offered a first impression of the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, and taught that a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to circle around the Sun once. A birthday child will generally tell a story of their life from birth to the present day (or a parent can tell a story if a child is too small).

DSC_0012

Smaller children celebrate Montessori Birthday by "walking the Earth" (read Adrian's 3rd Birthday Celebration here), where a birthday child is given a globe representing the Earth, a candle or a lamp is lit in the middle representing the Sun, and a circle is drawn on the floor either with a masking tape, or laid with a long piece of rope representing the orbit the Earth makes around the Sun. A child, while holding the globe, would slowly walk the line on the floor, realizing that the globe stands for the Earth, the planet we live on; and that every time the Earth goes all the way around the Sun, one whole year is passing by. "It takes one year for the Earth to go around the Sun one time - that is when you celebrate your birthday: when the Earth had completed its round." 

Julia just started Elementary at a wonderful Montessori school, so at her age level, instead of "walking the Earth", children sit in a circle, and Julia would mark her birth date on a season wheel, and then read her "life-story" year-by-year from a timeline. To prepare, Julia would look back at a year, reminisce, think of the most prominent events that had occurred, and hand-write them into the space provided, choose the pictures which would complement her writing, and I would finally laminate the pages, to prolong their use. 



DSC_0015-001Julia marking the month of her birthday on the season wheel.


DSC_0023-001A teacher lighting the candle to represent the Sun.


DSC_0023-001Here is where the ultrasound picture came handy :)

Julia is showing to her classmates the "Before I was born" page from her Timeline.

DSC_0032Showing the "Just Born" page from a timeline

DSC_0033When Julia was 4, her baby brother was born, so Adrian wanted to see his picture:)
 

After Julia have shared her "life-story"until her present birthday, children sang her a Happy Birthday Song.  

 

DSC_0037 making a wish for PeaceJulia's wish: "Peace Everywhere: inside oneself, among the family, in the world ..."

DSC_0039-001"Blowing off" the candle

You may also make a box, where you can collect pictures or sentimental things that represent each year. This way, the child can look through them each birthday. You might also want to consider making a time capsule of objects to help a child to reminisce the years that have gone by. If you have done a scrapbook, you would know what I am talking about: a picture, a ticket, some art or anything memorable your child decides to add. 

Just a note: birthday gifts are a big part of our children's birthdays, but they cannot be the entire focus of the birthday celebration forgetting the true meaning of the day of birth. Montessori approach helps us make it the day of reflection, a moment to make wishes, build dreams, a time to appreciate, remember, and gather together with loved and dear ones!

DSC_0001.JPG

A birthday card from Julia's Grandparents from South Korea. 

DSC_0002A gift from a friend from her new Elementary class :)
DSC_0002

 Thank you, everyone, for your kind wishes, for thinking of us, and for being in our lives.

 

For more reading, there is a nice overview of Montessori Celebration of Life (Birthday Celebration) and Waldorf inspired Birthday Ring from Montessori Print Shop. 


Montessori Toys

Maria Montessori in her method of education and raising children emphasized natural beautiful real materials that are healthy, safe and innately enjoyable for children. She also emphasized simplicity, and on setting up a controlled environment where children are able to learn on their own, through their own explorations.

In the first Montessori school in Rome, there were dolls and imaginative toys, but Maria Montessori discovered early on that, given the choice, "children always preferred to learn about and to study and interact with the real world in all its glory." However, this does not mean that children should be precluded from such a play, especially if these imaginative toys represent a real life situation and are esthetically pleasing. 

So, vast majority of Montessori toys that are not books are made of wood, and are usually quite simple–no flashing lights, sounds or whistles ... No cartoon characters, nor flying horses or purple bunnies. Just simple elegant shapes wooden toys with simple moving parts like wheels or a rope. Dr. Montessori also stressed that too many toys at child's disposal might be confusing, and that too many options will eventually lead to child's overwhelm and overstimulation. However, she also believed that the child can use and enjoy few well-chosen simple, elegant and natural toys (preferably representing a real life situation) in order to learn new skills and explore the world in a spirit of an adventure. 

Below is an excerpt from The Joyful Child, Montessori from Birth to Three by Susan Mayclin Stephenson: 

AGE 1-3 YEARS - TOYS

Selecting Toys
When picking out a toy for a child, imagine just what she will do with it. Does it invite purposeful activity? Decision making? Imagination? For how long will my child play with it? Will it encourage the child to explore, to spend time with it? There are many wonderful wooden or cloth imaginative toys available to children, but often what is missing is toys with purpose. These toys lay the foundation for richer work of the imagination.

Imagination is a wonderful tool of humans, but it cannot be created out of nothing. Creative imagination is based on, and directly related to, the quality of sensorial experiences in the real world. A rich imagination enables one to picture a solution (solving a puzzle for example) and to work toward it. The more experience a child has with real purposeful activity and solving problems, the more useful, creative, and effective her imagination will become.

We have selected, or created, manipulative toys that have a wide variety of challenges. For most of them there is a beginning and an end, and the completion of the activity is inherent in the material. For example then the child has put all of the discs in the box with discs, she has successfully complete a cycle of activity, feels a great deal of satisfaction, and is often ready to repeat the activity.

Eye-hand coordination is developed when it is obvious that a toy goes together in a particular way, for example a cube in a square hole and a sphere in a round hole. It is no small thing for a child to learn to direct her muscles to do what her eyes see should be done. And the challenge of such activities helps the child develop coordination and concentration. All of this must be considered when selecting toys for the child at this developmental stage.

The use of wood instead of plastic helps the child appreciate the natural world, the colors, shades and grains of wood, and the varying weight of wooden toys in a variety of sizes and densities. Quality shows a respect for the child and teaches the child respect for belongings. Beauty and durability are important at all ages for the child's tastes are being formed at this time of life. A beautiful home or a beautiful world can only be created by those who have learned to appreciate living with beauty.

Organizing and Rotating Toys
Toys should be kept in the area where the family lives, not only in the child's room. Shelves are much more satisfying than toy boxes. Having order in the environment creates a feeling of security in the child, and trust in the environment. Baskets, trays, or small boxes neatly arranged on low shelves can be very helpful in creating this order.

If you watch a child you will see which toys he plays with most and which ones just get dropped and forgotten. Try to keep only as many toys available to the child as can be kept neat, and uncrowded, in baskets on a shelf.

Learning to Put Toys Away
Limiting the number of toys available at any one moment, and having a place for every toy, helps with the task of teaching the child to put toys away. But most important is the example set by the others in the environment. If the adult carefully and continually puts the pieces of puzzles or toys back in the basket in front of the child, she will eventually imitate and join in the activity. Sometimes the "putting away" into baskets is the most enjoyable part of play at this age. In a Montessori infant community this lesson is much easier than in the home because the teacher is dedicated to the child completely, all day long. She will constantly put things away, carefully, slowly, and as the child becomes aware of this he naturally wants to learn to do this—just as he wants to learn everything else.

Of course it is much easier to get into the habit of putting a toy away when it is obvious where it goes on the shelf, when every toy has a place where it belongs. It is more difficult when all of the toys are being played with at once, and all the shelves empty, so it helps to get into the habit of putting a toy away before getting out another—again, the adult does this and is eventually imitated by the child. The parent can make a game of "putting away" instead of thinking of it as a distasteful chore.

Respecting Work and Concentration
One of the most important things we can do for child is to respect her concentration. When the child is engaged in something safe and purposeful (an activity requiring effort of both the mind and body—not watching TV!) this is considered an important work, and the adult's role is to respect and protect it.