A Mat, A Mirror and A Coffee Table
You can set up your own Montessori living room with just a mat, a mirror and a coffee table! I am a firm believer of the Montessori method so I decided to try and create an environment that encourages independence in our home. I believe that you can equip your child by creating a safe place for him and then giving him the freedom to explore on his own. It’s really simple! All you need is a mat or blankets, a mirror (the one I use the full length mirror from Target…the ones they put on sale for college kids!) and a coffee table or a low shelf where your child can reach for his own toys. I just used my the bottom half of our coffee table and placed 4-5 of the toys he can choose from. You can also the cube boxes (again from Target) and lay them on their sides so your child can reach in to grab a toy. My friend lent me this awesome mat. Otherwise I would have used blankets and laid them out or a huge rug. (Ikea usually have good ones) 🙂
I didn’t think Micah would quite understand the concept of taking a toy from the shelf and playing with it. But I wanted to give it a shot. My son was about 4 months old when I started showing him how to do it. I would hand him a toy from the shelf while he was looking at the shelf during tummy time. When he was around 5 months and rolling around, I noticed he would “roll” himself towards the shelf but when he would reach for a toy, he would get frustrated because he wouldn’t be able to get it off the shelf. I would usually tell him I would help him and hand him the toy. We would practice this every day during tummy time. When he learned how to crawl, everything changed! As his legs got stronger, his arm muscles did too! Whenever I would put him down on the mat, he would prop himself up and crawl towards the shelf. He would look through the items on the shelf and carefully make his selection! haha It took him a few tries but last week, he just reached over and grabbed a toy by himself! I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it! I made him do it a couple more times because it was really fascinating to me! He didn’t think it was very cool though because I would put the toy back and move him farther away and then have him work his way back and do everything again! I just wanted to catch it on video! It was pretty cool to watch him gravitate towards the shelf and even pause (like he is choosing which toy he wants) before reaching for it. By the way, it always ends up in his mouth! (I do a wipe down of the mat, the toys and the shelf after his activities because he is a drool machine!) He is trying to reach for the books now but I think it’s still a little challenging but I can’t wait to see what he will do next!
Guess what! You don’t have to wait till he is bigger to set this up! I used the mirror and mat set up since Micah was a newborn. Tummy time and reading time would happen here! He would entertain himself by looking in the mirror. The mirror helps the baby focus, track images and explore what his/ her face can do! Not to mention that it promotes social and emotional development as he/ she interacts with you. You can introduce your baby to the different parts of his/ her face and by touching his nose, stroking his hair or kissing his cheeks. Even though he/she may not know what these words mean, it delights him/her to just interact with you. 🙂
Hope you have fun setting up your living room for your little one!