Monday, July 16, 2012

Hands On, Their Level

I've been busy transforming the spaces where we've had Primary Level Montessori materials (for ages 2 1/2 to 6) into areas with only Atrium materials (those used to introduce the child to the Church according to the method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd).  Much of my work has been done at night, when Alleluia is asleep.  So when she woke up the other day this long hallway looked different.  She was immediately drawn to a simple sorting work, which consists of a tray with three types of beans and seeds in a large saucer and three small, empty saucers.  She was engrossed for quite a while, so much so that we never bothered getting dressed until after breakfast!

It reminded me of how important it is that work put out for the children be attractive and at their level.  As I re-work my space, I will try to remember to check that everything from artwork to art supplies is low enough for the tiny toddlers.

Also, when we care for toddlers we are reluctant to leave out small pieces on which they can choke.  But can you find a way to allow the children to play with "off limits" items on a regular basis?  Maybe it's just once per day, or once per week, or even just twice per month!  But toddlers go through a sensitive period for tiny things--they need to touch and feel and manipulate objects that are small.  Part of providing a prepared environment is anticipating the needs of the child.

Each one of us may have a different solution to providing for this need.  You may have a box of small items in a locked closet, or on top of the refrigerator (if the child cannot reach it!).  That way there is the added bonus that this work, done by your side or under your watchful eye, is seen as special time.

This goes for all sorts of things I've heard parents ban from their houses, from sandboxes to toys with small parts, to Legos and Barbies ("those darned shoes!"), to Lincoln Logs and Play-Doh, to safety scissors.  Can you find a way--no matter how limited--to incorporate the toddler's need for small objects and various sensory experiences into the rhythm of your life?

Toys like this come in flat boxes that make them ideal for storing safely out of reach when not in use.  Always supervise small children when small parts are around.

Even the older siblings enjoy working with little pieces.


  1. Wonderful ideas, Sarah! It's a real dilemma for parents to know how to meet a toddler's sensitive period for small objects while preventing choking dangers. Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and pinned it to my Toddlers - Activities and Ideas Pinterest Board at

  2. I chose this post as one of my 'Montessori top 12 in 2012'. I used a Pinterest pin of your graphic so please let me know if this is not OK. You can see the post here

    This is a blog hop if you want to join us!