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Phoebe’s Room Tour: A Toddler’s Montessori Bedroom

The first year of Phoebe’s life, we tried to change her nursery as little as possible (Here is my post with a tour of her nursery). It’s important to have a calm and consistent environment for our little ones as they grow and learn about the world. Keeping the nursery the same helps create a safe and reliable place for them to come back to in the midst of all the chaos of growing up and learning how to do everything for the first time, be it rolling over, laughing, or crawling and standing.

Now, at nearly 16 months, Phoebe is climbing, running, opening, and dispersing things all over the house, as well as in her own bedroom. Our needs for her room have changed. Now we need a room where we can teach her how to master her skills. We need an environment that helps teach her how to put things away and be a responsible caretaker of her belongings.

One thing that helps a lot with this is having a lot less stuff available to her, overall.  We moved her dresser drawers into the garage (next to the laundry machines); instead, we are keeping a few days worth of clothes and diapers in baskets in her closet. We also have some things hanging up at her level. She can access all of her clothes, and she loves practicing dressing herself, and when she is done, there are few enough clothes that I can help teach her how to put her clothes back in their baskets without either of us getting overwhelmed. And, yes: she does help put things away! She loves it (most of the time) when I ask her to help me; we work together to gather the clothes and put them in the baskets; however, if she is too tired or simply unwilling to help, I am able to pick up her mess in under a minute. If we ever run out of clothes, the stash is in the garage, a few rooms away, and it is easy to grab a few extra shirts or socks for her baskets. It’s a win-win situation all around.

We want to teach Phoebe life skills as she gets old enough to manage them, and as she expresses interest in the. So, we have a dirty laundry basket in her closet, as well as her coconut oil jar (which we use as a moisturizer), hair accessories (in a basket), and homeopathic teething medicine. I like giving her access to the things she uses on a regularly basis. She likes exploring these items, as well. I keep meaning to buy her a hairbrush to add to the mix.

In the closet, above Phoebe’s reach, I still have storage for items that are not appropriate for her at the moment, either because they are too big or too small. I will likely clear out space in the garage and move these bins closer to the rest of her clothes, but for the time being, they aren’t interfering right where they are.
We moved the shelves for Phoebe’s toys to create a barrier in Phoebe’s room, dividing it into to sections: a play area and a sleep area. To be honest, setting the room up like this was completely unmediated. I was sliding the shelf against an opposite wall, when I realized Phoebe would have a lot of fun learning how to crawl into, through and around the shelves. So I set them up as is. And she thinks they are terrific. She goes up to them, looks at us through them, and just giggles. Or, she’ll jaunt into her room and squeal, then take a toy down out of the shelf and play with it. She finds the new set-up engaging and loads of fun. 

Things I still want to do:

– Lower the pictures to her eye sight and secure them to the wall
– Set her mirror back up in the new “play” area
– Get a few more baskets, so that I have a basket for books and maybe even one for puzzle pieces (when she leaves a puzzle unfinished)
– Set up a small table and chair in the room, so that she has a place to sit and work on projects or coloring

^_^ Erin

2012-08-13

Posted using Tinydesk Writer iPhone app

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Simple Montessori Bell Mobile

Phoebe is now 3 1/2 months old, and the original mobile I made for her, the Pom Pom Mobile, is no longer very interesting for her. When I put her under it, she is bored. She knows how to make it spin. She knows all its pretty colors. She’s very familiar with the baby in the mirror.

These days, Phoebe is learning how to grasp and hold things, and she needs a mobile that will help challenge her in these areas.

I give you: the Simple Montessori-inspired Bell Mobile:

simple montessori bell mobileI use the term “mobile” very loosely here. Truly, it’s just a jingle-bell on an elastic that’s hooked to the ceiling. Let me walk you through the features of the mobile…

Except for the bell, the mobile is black. I used black string and black elastic because I wanted to create a lot of contrast against the nursury’s while ceiling in order to draw attention to the bell.

simple montessori bell mobile elastic

The bell fits easily in Phoebe’s hand. When she hold it, she can shake it like a rattle, and when she lets it go or knocks it, it jingles.

simple montessori bell mobile elastic

The elastic is important because it allows Phoebe to pull on the bell without pulling it out of the ceiling, and it also makes the bell jump around in a fun and unteresting manner once she releases it.

I created several knots in the string that hooks the bell to the ceiling so that I can adjust it as Phoebe needs different heights. For now, I’m keeping the bell low and easy to grasp or knock with her fists.

simple montessori bell mobile elastic

The bell is easy for Phoebe to reach

simple montessori bell mobile elastic

A simple knot connects the elastic to the string

simple montessori bell mobile elastic

Several knots at the top of the string make it easy to adjust the bell’s height

SO HOW DOES PHOEBE LIKE IT?

I made the Bell Mobile last night and introduced it to her this morning. Even though she was distracted by teething pain (yes, at 3 months old she’s already teething), she liked it immediately. When Phoebe sees something new and interesting, she gives this cross-eyed look, puts her mouth in an “ooo” shape, and bobbles her head back and forth. That was her reaction when I showed her the bell. (Mom thinks, “Yay! She likes it!”)

http://darlingillustrations.com/2011/montessori-pom-pom-mobile/

So, I help her get the bell into her hands a few times so she gets what the purpose of it is, and then I leave her under it to come blog.

Phoebe starts to cry.

“Huh,” I thought. “I used to leave her under the Pom Pom Mobile, and she’d amuse herself forever. Well, for 20 minutes, at least.” But, of course, this is a different mobile. This is a new mobile. And it is a challenging one. So, I laughed at myself, and went in to lie next to her, helping her explore her new toy. I adjusted the height of the bell to make it easier to grasp (I’d hung it too high, originally). I steadied the bell and let her reach for it, or I guided it over to her little hands. And she loved it. Grasping the bell and shaking it was her favorite thing to do.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN

This is what you need:

http://darlingillustrations.com/2011/montessori-pom-pom-mobile/– A bell that fits your baby’s hand. I bought a package from Michael’s. I figure there are other projects I can dream up that will make good use of them. This package of 14 bells, size 25 mm, cost $3.99.

– Black elastic. I bought the thinnest Michael’s had: a 1/2 inch braided elastic, 1.5 yards long. $1.69.

– Black string. I had this lying around the house.

– Scissors. (duh)

Just knot the bell to the elastic, and the elastic to the string. I tied the string into a loop, and then knotted one end to the elastic, that way it was easier to create varied lengths on the other end.

And that’s it! Simple. Easy. Cheap.

UPDATE

My friend, Emily, educated me a little bit today about the bell-elastic concept. In her own words:

“Bells are really for before they have the motor control to grasp on purpose, so if they happen to knock it, it makes a nice tingly sound, which is good feedback. Then they get better at “aiming” their flailing arms to make it jingle on purpose. So then once theycan aim, you use a ring mobile to practice grasping.”

Thanks Emily! Next project: ring mobile!

By ekwetzel
2011-07-26

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Nursery Room Tour

I have been meaning to blog a tour of Phoebe’s nursery for months, and now, at long last, here you have it! The tour of Phoebe’s baby room has arrived!

First, a quick spin around the room. As you enter from the hallway, you see the wall with the window, and the others as you turn counter-clockwise:

nursury room curtains joel dewberry
nursury room danish modern rocking chair shirae

nursury room montessori floorbed
nursury room closet babywearing

We spend a lot of time hanging out in the nursery. I like that the room is big enough to have multiple kids and moms comfortably sprawled around it. It is definitively a “daytime room.” Phoebe sleeps with us (we co-sleep, i.e. Phoebe sleeps in our bed with us), and the more that we use this room, the more it feels like a place for activity, not sleeping. I hope to hone it in this direction as Phoebe grows up and has different abilities and interests.

nursury room babywearing ring sling

Behind the door, we have our babywearing gear hung up: a ring sling from my mom and a moby wrap (and Phoebe’s little sun hat). It’s helpful to have these items handy.The ring sling has become my favorite baby carrier. My mom used this tutorial to make it. The rings were purchased from ringslings.com (link here) and and she used dupioni silk as the fabric.

We took the closet doors out of the room to open it up. You can see the diaper bag and a basket on the floor. We’ll often have a laundry basket down there, as well.
nursury room baby dressesPhoebe’s dresses hang in the closet. Most of these dresses were bought from thrift store or consignment shops. Baby clothing is so easy to find secondhand for reasonable prices; it floors me how much these items cost new in retail stores. On the shelf above the dresses are more baskets for storage (often, as she outgrows items, I’ll toss them up there until I have a chance to sort through them), as well as a collection of books that are currently too old for her. We keep the Ergo baby carrier on the shelf; it’s a little too bulky for the hooks behind the door.

One of the most challenging things for me in the room was sewing the curtains. I am not a sewer. At all. But, I figured, how hard could curtains be? Right?

baby nursery joel dewberry modern magestic meadow sunglow

I bought this amazing fabric off etsy (Modern Meadow – Majestic Oak in Sunglow, by Joel Dewberry ) and planned on making my own curtains for the room. First problem: I didn’t buy enough fabric. Second problem: I cut wrong. Third problem: I sewed it in such a way that I closed off the section where the curtain rod should go. Seriously. I’m a talented fool.

baby nursery joel dewberry modern magestic meadow sunglow
So, I gave up. Then I gave birth. And when my amazing seamstress mother came to visit, she magically fixed my errors and whipped up these curtains. (Yes, one of the curtains looks a little different from the others. Remember: I cut the fabric wrong. But I hardly notice. My mom is amazing.)

baby nursery ikea drawers dresser
Instead of buying a lot of nursery-specific furniture, we wanted items that could be used as furniture long after diaper changes and baby naps were a thing of the past. These drawers house Phoebe’s clothes, linens and diaper supplies, and the top is used as a changing station.

baby nursery diaer changing station
Our diaper changes are very simple. We are using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. There is a bowl for warm water and a tube of almond oil for her bum. In the basket, we store diaper supplies, typically a stack of fresh cloth wipes, a few cloth inserts, and perhaps a pre-stuffed diaper or two. The lamp is nice and dim for nighttime changes; I sewed a little cover out of scrap fabric to slide over an IKEA lamp.

As we are starting to do more Elimination Communication, we’ve been keeping bloomers from her dresses in the basket as a stash up-cycled of “baby underwear.”  The first place I heard about Elimination Communication was the book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J Buckley; you can read an except about Elimination Communication here. I’ll write more on Elimination Communication is a future blog post.

baby nursery wetbag hamper

baby nursery  wetbags

Dirty clothes and linens go into the hamper in the open closet. Dirty diapers and wipes go into the wetbag hanging above it. We have 2 large wetbags to rotate for at home, and 2 smaller ones for the diaper bag. And I love them. I think the fabrics are really cute. (We bought these on etsy, as well).
baby nursery needlepoint
Above the changing station is a needlepoint that was in my room as a child: it reads “Somebunny loves you.”
baby nursery  fish mobile chime
There is also a fish mobile with bells on it that I found at a consignment shop. Honestly, I wish I’d placed this above the changing pad instead so that Phoebe had a better view of it.
baby nursery  danish modern rocking chair

To date, this is where I spend most of my time while in the nursery: sitting in the rocking chair. I love this rocking chair. It is a Danish-modern design and we bought it off a Seattle seller we found on craigslist. My Mom the Amazing Seamstress made new cushion covers for it, and the whole thing was reborn. I love that the chair is so simple and comfortable, yet stylish.

We re-purposed the orange side table from another room of the house. It quickly became apparent how handy it is to have tables on both sides of me while nursing or letting Phoebe sleep on me. I have 1 basket with mom necessities: trail mix, tissues, a journal. The other basket has baby washcloths and supplies, like a baby brush & nail clippers. The yellow crate has books and a magazine or two tucked away for my reading pleasure. Within easy reach, the first drawer is for our burp cloths, and Phoebe’s books are also close at hand.

baby nursery wee gallery art cards
I love the black and white artwork from the Wee Gallery. These are three of their art cards in a simple frame. I thought it’d be neat to switch them out from time to time. Sitting on the frame are little wooden dolls, a gift from GG (Phoebe’s Great-Grandmother).

baby nursery shirae artworkbaby nursery shirae artwork
Mr. Wetzel and I have loved the artwork of etsy seller shirae since we discovered her, around the time we found out we were pregnant. We bought this series of pictures from her for the nursery. I like how they show a child going on an adventure: first she starts down an unknown path; then she experiences a wonderful ocean; finally she rests, dreaming, while a zebra walks the through the forest. Shirae even through the last picture of the girl collecting flowers in for free. We have these hung up above the rocking chair, and I hope all our children come to love them in the coming years.

baby nursery TULIPS target lamp
When we first gave birth, it was mid-April, and tulips were in bloom everywhere. I took this picture back in the first weeks on Phoebe’s life; the tulips were a gift from someone who’d brought us a meal. I loved looking at them whenever I was sitting in the rocking chair with the new little blossom of joy that we’d just welcomed in to the world.

The lamp is from Target. I admit, we bought it on an impulse buy when we were at Target right after we found out we were pregnant. But I love it, and Phoebe often stops nursing to look up at it, as well. Frivolous purchase? Perhaps. Am I glad we have it? Absolutely.

baby nursery ikea shelf
This shelf runs the length of one wall in the room. We have the drawers for storing different supplies: burp cloths, toys, blankets. The bottom area is meant to hold things that Phoebe can access and use once she starts crawling. When designing the room, we took a page out of Montessori’s handbook: we wanted this to be a place where Phoebe could explore and grow. Everything that we have out is something she’s allowed to take, use, touch or teeth on.

The room is meant to be very simple: each open compartment in these shelves holds a purpose: books, a rattle in a basket, a potty for Elimination Communication. It’s very difficult to reduce clutter, and even more difficult to keep the room tidy, but we try. We believe that having a consistent, simple environment will help reduce stress for Phoebe and help her feel safe in her surroundings. By keeping the room simple and constant, she can come to understand her experiences in it as she changes, gains new abilities and perceives the world in different ways.

baby nursery chinese lanterns floorbed
There is a cubby in the room that is the perfect size for a bed. Originally, we thought Phoebe would sleep in here some of the time, so we bought a mattress for the floor where she and I could nap. As it turns out, we aren’t doing any naps in this room, and we’re thinking of storing this mattress for guests (or for a future bed) and getting a shorter play mat that Phoebe can easily crawl off of once she starts moving around.

Why don’t we have a crib? Instead of fencing Phoebe into a crib or playpen, our idea is that the entire room is her crib. She can explore the whole thing, and we’ll make sure it’s all baby-proofed and safe by the time she’s crawling. Add a babygate to the door, and presto: one big room-sized crib ready to go!

baby nursery mobile wee gallery art cards
This corner of the room is the main activity center. Hanging from the ceiling is the Pom Pom Mobile that I made for her. There is a mirror leaning up again the wall (we keep meaning to secure it to the wall and keep procrastinating). Phoebe loves both of these things; she particularly loves looking at her mobile in the mirror. We also have a few extra toys available: some wrist rattles and art cards in a basket. We’re trying to only have a few toys out at a time so that the area isn’t too overwhelming.

floorbed baby nursery
There is a tiny shelf (repurposed from an IKEA spice rack) that we’ll fasten to the wall. It’s currently leaning up against the bed with some art cards & a beany baby in it. As Phoebe learns to stand, she can use the little bar to pull herself up. We can rotate what items we put in the shelf to add interest and give her incentive to reach up to them.

baby nursery messages
Strung up above the bed are messages that friends and family wrote to Phoebe, before she was born, welcoming her into the world. One day, perhaps, we’ll rotate these out for artwork or paper craft projects. For now, I like having the symbols of love hanging over her as she plays.

baby nursery chinese lanterns
I imagine that think the Chinese lanterns strung above the activity area are reminiscent of clouds.

baby nursery chinese lanterns cloud lamp
Speaking of clouds…the cloud light fixture is from IKEA.

baby nursery papa chair
Perhaps my favorite addition to the room is the Papa chair. I love it that Mr. Wetzel has a place to sit and visit with me while I’m nursing. Before she was born, we’d often come in here, sit in our respective chairs, and dream about the days to come. These days, after Phoebe is asleep, we’ll often do the same. Or, when we have company, there is a place for grandparents or other moms to sit while we chat or show off our little one. Under the seat is a floor cushion (holla, World Market!) which also comes in handy while playing on the floor.

I took a lot of inspiration from the following nurseries:
–    Nearly Finished Nest by Megan Boley
–    Finnian’s Montessori Room by Meg McElwee
–    Baby Room Tour – Hanford, CA Home by Emily from JoyfulAbode.com

By ekwetzel
2011-06-27

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Montessori Pom Pom Mobile

While browsing for baby mobiles and other learning tools online, I found pictures of the Gobbi Montessori mobiles on etsy.com. I liked how their designs integrated color progression with varying distances above the baby. The Gobbi mobiles are made from different materials than I used and run pretty expensive (about $50 a mobile). Using my pom poms and other objects found around the house, I made mine for $1 (all I bought was a mirror from the dollar store). This mobile is not an “official” Montessori mobile, but it is definitely inspired by the Gobbi mobile and ones like it.

All in all, I am more than impressed with how the mobile turned out. It has actually inspired me to try and make more things at home, and to experiment more with the random “junk” that I just can’t seem to ever throw away. Here is a video of the finished project:

And here is a little play-by-play on how the project developed. If you want to try making your own mobile and have any questions, just let me know!

yarn multicoloredTo be honest, when I started this project, I had no idea where it would take me. I just thought it would be fun to make some pom poms out of the tote of yarn I had stashed in the garage. The yarn was nothing special: just a random assortment that had been given to me or that  I’d picked up at thrift stores.

I started my first pom pom…

pom pom making

It had been years since I’d made pom poms at summer camp, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out or not.

pom pom progressI produced a gangly white pom pom, which I trimmed down to make it more round and ball-like.

pom pom needs trimming

pom pom trimmed“Hmm. That didn’t turn out so bad,” I thought to myself. So, I started to make pom poms of different colors. I had quite the audience…

scooter stalks the pom poms

Sometimes, I messed up the pom pom, and it fell apart in my hands

pom pom fail

Pom Pom Fail.

But eventually I’d completed a nice little collection of pom poms, all in different colors.

pom pom rainbowLaying the pom poms in a circle like this gave me the idea to make a mobile out of them. I rummaged through my random supplies and found an old ribbon spool. I cut notches in it and strung the pom poms through at varying lengths.

pom pom mobile montessori

View from underneath

pom pom mobile montessori

The Pom Pom Mobile

(I removed the pom poms to work on the appearance of the ribbon spool).

Next, I tore apart the mirror I bought from the dollar store and hot-glue-gunned it to the ribbon spool.

dollar store mirrorI then created a border to frame the mirror using thick black and white paper. This frame helps to secure the mirror onto the mobile, and it also provides high contrast visual interest for the baby.

pom pom mobile montessoriAfter re-stringing the pom poms through the notches in the spool, I knotted them to secure them in place, then used the hot glue gun to keep them secure (one bead of glue on each knot). After tying the yarn together, I macramed a strand, and ended it in a braided loop, for hanging.

pom pom mobile montessori

Under supervision

^_^ I couldn’t have completed the project without my support group:

mr wetzel & scooter ipod

By ekwetzel
2011-04-12

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