Montessori Baby-Ed #2: 10 Ways to Explore The Arts With Your Two Month Old!

YOUR MONTESSORI BABY IS TWO MONTHS OLD AND A DARLING LITTLE MUSICAL WIGGLE WORM!


BOAT POSE: STRENGTHENING AND LENGTHENING

YOUR LITTLE YOGINI IS BUILDING MUSCLES…PREPARING FOR HOLDING HER HEAD UP ON HER OWN!

I have been so enjoying gathering materials for Montessori Baby-Ed Lessons that emphasize The Arts with your baby! I purchased a set of these exquisite Baby Yoga Art Cards  for my newest grandchild. They are available as a download at Katherine Kabral's amazing TpT Store, I Believe in Montessori.


Montessori Baby-Ed: The Arts and Your Baby

 Nido Basket #2 and Lessons

This carefully curated "Nido Basket" #2 is part of my Series, Montessori Baby-Ed Arts Curriculum. You can read about "Nido Basket" #1 at my blog post HERE. 
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"MUSICALLY MONTESSORI: FIRST LESSONS"



Six week old baby observing the beautiful Montessori-style Dancer Mobile 
from Bella’s Casa Etsy Store

 Here’s an interesting quote from Montessori:
 “It follows that the newborn child has to do a piece of formative work which corresponds in the psychological sphere to the one just done by the embryo in the physical sphere. Before him there is a period of life different from that which he led in the womb; yet still unlike that of the man he is to become. This postnatal work is constructive activity which is carried on in what may be called the “formative period”, and it makes the baby into a kind of “Spiritual Embryo.”  THE ABSORBENT MIND by Maria Montessori

To read more about the Montessori method, you can refer to the Lesson Plans in Montessori Baby-Ed Nido Basket #1.  Click HERE.

You'll find more Montessori info at this web site, American Montessori Society: Introduction to Montessori Method.

SOME HELPFUL HINTS
·      Feed Baby in a quiet setting so that Baby can focus on the task at hand (Montessori calls this “isolation of difficulty”)
Photo from Adobe Stock 
·      In the second month, Baby is social, and becomes more engaged with other family members and caregivers. After six weeks, mothers often return to full time work outside the home and other caregivers may be feeding Baby. Many nursing moms express milk so that Baby still gets the brain building components of breast milk.
  
·      The carefully prepared environment will result in a built in “control of error” (another term coined by Montessori) When preparing the baby’s space think about what will allow the child what s/he needs for natural development thus eliminating the unnecessary. Make it child-sized and low to the ground! Classic Montessori Nido environments look something like this picture.


   Photo showing Montessori mobile from Bella's Casa Etsy Shop

·      Providing a Montessori style “floor bed” where Baby can lie on back (or tummy) and move freely offers a way to set up mobiles and art pictures at Baby’s eye level.

·    Some families use Japanese style futons with fitted sheets. This can also be a place where you can lie comfortably next to Baby and sing or read to her.

·    Babies in the first two months of life are changing rapidly and adjusting to the life of the surrounding family. Connections and social interactions happen with the first smile, with more and more eye contact, delight at the touch of a gentle massage and observing the world from the shoulder of a beloved caregiver.
Photo from Adobe Stock

Month 2.
Developmental Stage: Awake and Social


Photo from Adobe Stock

Baby is responding to changing sensations and adapting quickly to daily family life. (Baby never stops moving when awake but is not yet mobile)

In the Montessori Pedagogy, children between 0-3 are in the SENSITIVE PERIOD for MOVEMENT and for LANGUAGE.

If Baby is given freedom to move (from birth on) then s/he will begin to “slither” in the first few weeks.

In the second month, Baby is awake more often than the first month. During these awake times, Baby is beginning to make eye contact with loved ones.

Baby makes cooing sounds and likes to carefully watch the faces of the family around as they talk and smile at Baby.

During awake time, Baby is constantly moving and exercising all the large muscles of the body. Kicking legs, flapping arms, and attempting to lift the head…these activities occupy most of Baby’s waking hours.

Baby is still sleeping often throughout the day, especially after all the activity during tummy time!


Photo from Adobe Stock

What you can do to nurture your baby’s natural cognitive development in the second month:
1.   Provide mobiles at close range, but not touching range for Baby’s crib and/or floor bed where s/he is lying on back and looking up. In the Montessori scheme, there is a special sequence to the type of mobile and when it is introduced, according to the child’s developing abilities. (Aids in Baby’s developing visual sense.)

2.   Sing to Baby! You can also play sweet music that is either live or from a genuine source, like a music box. Recordings played for the child should be of actual instruments, rather than electronically produced sounds. (Aids in Baby’s developing aural sense.)

3.   Smile and coo with Baby often…copying his/her vocalizations whenever possible. (Contributes to Baby’s developing language skills.)

4.   Read books and/or tell stories to Baby. Reality based picture books are best and your own stories are a wonderful way to recount your family’s history. You can always tell the story of the day Baby was born!

5.   Carry out daily routines in as predictable fashion as possible, so that Baby begins to understand his family life and begins to anticipate what comes next. (Recognizing patterns & making predictions are important components of developing Pre-language and Pre-math skills in the young child)

6.   Take Baby to areas of the home and the garden by carrying her upright so that s/he can see what is happening around her. (Gives experiences that exercise all the senses and this is how Baby learns.)

What you can do to nurture natural motor development:
1.   Massage Baby’s upper torso both front and back. (Relaxes muscles and stimulates Baby’s awareness of the muscles)

2.   Provide a floor bed for Baby’s supervised free movement during the daytime when s/he is awake. (Gives Baby unrestrained access to her hands and feet to develop the coordination of the muscles for grasping and crawling…the next stages of development)

3.   Give Baby plenty of tummy time in which you are down at her level and making eye contact. (Encourages Baby to lift her head to see you.)


Photo from Adobe Stock

You can learn more about baby massage at this link:

MONTESSORI BABY-ED LESSONS FOR THE SECOND MONTH

****Always supervise Baby’s activities on the floor bed at all times, whether s/he is awake or asleep.

LESSON #1. Music Notation Tummy Time Quilt
Music Note Quilt available at Texas Hook and Needle Etsy Shop
1.  Place the quilt on Baby’s floor bed/playmat with the music note side up and then place Baby on her tummy on the blanket. (Stimulates Baby’s development of sight and touch.) 

2.  Turn the cloth over to give Baby a different texture to experience. (Provides a range of tactile experience for Baby’s developing sensorial memory.)

3.  Just for fun, you can sing to Baby while pointing to the music notes on the blanket. You can also give her vocabulary: “music notes, black, white, 1/8th note,” etc. (Contributes on a subtle level to language development.)

4.  Observe your Baby's reaction to the different textures of the cloth. (Gives you information about your Baby’s learning style)

5.  Adjust the activity if Baby cries or seems to dislike the tactile or visual stimulation and try again in a few days. (Develops a sense of trust and self worth in the child.)
LESSON #2. Black and White Musical Instrument Picture: Clarinet
1.  Change the picture in the frame from the Musical Instruments Packet (see Nido Basket #1.)  Slip the photo of the clarinet in the frame and hang the framed picture at Baby’s eye level to stimulate Baby’s developing sense of sight. (ex: changing table)

2.  While changing Baby, give her the vocabulary: “Clarinet” …”Black Clarinet” etc. (There’s a whole lot of useful information written on the back of the picture about the musical instrument, the clarinet.)

The clarinet is in the orchestral family of woodwind instruments. That is why I included the bamboo flute in this basket. (see below) The bamboo flute is a simple woodwind instrument played in many cultures worldwide.  It is fairly easy to create soothing sounds with this instrument, without formal music training.

3.  If you happen to play clarinet, it would be nice for Baby to hear you play a little tune for her. If you don’t have a clarinet in the home, you can play recorded music for Baby that features a clarinet. Here’s a link to some nice music that features the clarinet: Brahms Clarinet Sonatas

4.  I've included a new packet of pictures in this month’s Nido Basket! You can choose to change the picture over the next weeks with one of your favorites from the Vincent Van Gogh Art Packet from Michael Olaf Company. (Develops the aesthetic sense)

5. Observe Baby's reactions to these activities suggested above and adjust as you feel it is appropriate so that Baby is soothed rather than over-stimulated. (This respectful way of working with Baby instills in her a sense of self worth and trust in you. These are important to the social-emotional development in young children.)

A NOTE ABOUT The Michael Olaf wooden picture frame:
This frame will hold (store) all ten musical instrument pictures in your packet and you can change the one you display each month. This month’s learning activities feature the piano.

Slip the whole pack of musical instrument pictures into the frame through the opening at the top of the frame, placing the picture of the piano in the front.  Hang the frame using the wire on the back of the frame.
This picture frame will be used for displaying each musical instrument picture that will be featured during the first ten months of Montessori Baby-Ed Activities. 


LESSON #3.  The Bamboo Flute


Bamboo flutes are available from Amazon at this link.

1.  Hold the flute up to your mouth with both hands and do not cover the holes with the fingers of your dominant hand. Blow directly into the mouthpiece with gentle force. Once you have gotten some gentle sounds from the flute, then you are ready to play some notes for Baby.

Playing this wonderful instrument while you are sitting on the floor next to Baby lying on the daytime floor bed/playmat is a sweet addition to your little one's awake time. (Stimulates the rapidly developing sense of hearing in the infant. Infants respond to music even before birth, especially live music.)

2.  Try playing a rhythmic steady beat with no particular melody. (This gives Baby experience with rhythm that is so important to the development of language.)

3.   You can also play simple (or complex) melodies on this flute for Baby to become familiar with your favorite flute tunes. Here is a site for instruction on how to play the bamboo flute: Bamboo Flute Playing.

4.  Observe Baby and adjust to what you feel is appropriate so that Baby is stimulated but not overwhelmed. (Develops trust and high self esteem)

LESSON #4.  Montessori-style Gobbi mobile for week 5 and 6
Montessori Gobbi Mobile available at Bella's Casa Etsy Store

1. Hang the Gobbi Mobile securely above Baby’s floor bed or floor playmat so that it is approximately 10 inches above him/her. This is the third mobile in the Montessori series.  This Mobile is arranged with gradations of the same color with the balls hung progressively farther away from Baby’s sight. (This configuration isolates the difficulty by offering one color, while changing distance/perspective: challenges Baby’s developing visual discrimination and tracking abilities)

2. When Baby is awake, fed, diapered and content, then lay her on her back so that she can see the mobile. You may want to gently touch the mobile to cause it to move slightly. Try not to disturb Baby when s/he is engaged. Some babies have been reported to have observed the mobile for 15 minutes or longer! (Develops visual discrimination and concentration skills)

3. Observe your Baby to see if s/he is beginning to follow the movement of the mobile. Does she is enjoy this activity?  (Develops tracking abilities that are necessary for learning to read and perform math in later years)

4. Adjust the activity if Baby cries or seems overwhelmed and try offering it again in a few days. (Develops trust and inner sense of self worth in Baby)

****Important: This Mobile is for Baby to view, but not close enough for Baby to touch it.

When Baby starts to reach out to objects then it is time for the Montessori “tactile mobiles”…that’s the upcoming stage of development: grasping!

The Gobbi Mobile is based on foundational principles of the Montessori method of education. They are always made in shades of the same color so that the child is only having to focus on the main feature of the mobile: the distance each ball is from Baby’s line of vision. As the balls (called spheres in the Montessori environment) hang gradually farther away from Baby, the shade of color lightens. Later, the Preschool child will work with the color tablets that offer tiles of color that are arranged darkest to lightest. Likewise, the Preschooler is introduced to the geometric solids and one of these is the “sphere” in the approximate dimensions of the spheres in this Baby mobile. These subtle connections will be incorporated in the brain for later reference as Baby grows older.

LESSON #5 Montessori-style Dancers Mobile for week 7/8
Montessori Dancer Mobile available at Bella's Casa Etsy Store

1. To spark Baby’s interest, hang the Dancer Mobile within the next two weeks to replace the Gobbi Mobile. This helps keep Baby engaged with viewing her mobile during awake time on the floor bed/playmat. This mobile is representational of human forms and appeals to Baby’s interest in people and how they move in space. (Develops visual discrimination and tracking skills)

2. Thereafter; alternate between the 2 mobiles according to Baby’s engagement with the mobiles. (Novelty keeps Baby’s senses actively stimulated.)

3. Observe Baby to see if s/he shows a preference. I have read that some babies definitely like one mobile more than the other!  (Develops visual discrimination and the aesthetic sense)

4. Adjust the activity if Baby seems to feel more comfortable with the first mobile and wait a little longer to bring the second mobile back. (Develops trust and inner self worth) 

Only display one mobile at any given time.

LESSON #6. Chime Ball
Knitted Chime Ball available from Blume and Jensen Etsy Store
Since Baby must be placed on the back for sleeping, it's important to make time each day for "tummy time" so that your little one develops the muscles in the neck and upper torso. 

The first tummy time experiences for Baby will consist of family members lying on the floor with Baby. Eventually, Baby will be able to focus on the faces of her loved ones. After a few weeks, Baby will follow the movements of her loved ones close by while lying on her back or tummy. 

1. Hold the ball close to Baby when she is lying on her back during awake time, and then shake it gently to make a sound. (This will stimulate Baby's developing sense of hearing.)

2. Gently and slowly roll the ball so that it is close enough for Baby to see and hear. Try rolling it gently over her body so that she not only hears the bell but feels the ball moving over her. (Develops the sense of hearing and touch)

3. While rolling the ball over Baby’s arm, you can give her the vocabulary by saying, “I’m rolling the ball over your arm.”  Continue in the same manner rolling the ball over other parts of Baby’s body. (Aids in language development)

4. During tummy time, move the ball from Baby's left to right and she will hear the bell and see the ball moving. (In the Western World, left to right movement is important for a child's emerging reading skills in the upcoming years.)

4. During tummy time, as Baby gains more control of the neck muscles, roll the ball away from Baby and then back towards Baby. This ball rolls slowly enough for Baby to follow it with her eyes. (Aids in developing tracking skills)

5. Bring the ball close to Baby during tummy time. In the beginning you can make a sound with the ball to attract her attention. Eventually, Baby will develop her neck muscles enough to look at the ball on her own. In the next months, you can roll the ball a short distance from Baby, so that s/he will be motivated to creep towards it. (Helps develop the muscles of the neck and upper torso) 

7. Once again, observe and adjust to Baby's cues. (Develops sense of trust and inner self worth)

LESSON #7. Wooden Bell Rattle
(One of Baby’s first instruments!)
Personalized Bell Rattle available from Born Gifted 

Personally, I prefer a bell rattle in which the bell is enclosed as opposed to attached to the ends of a wooden dowel and exposed. I have heard the story of a toddler in Baby Music class who got his tongue caught in the openings of a single bell rattle. This wooden rattle has the bell enclosed.

1. Start by gently shaking the rattle near Baby when s/he is lying on the floor bed/playmat. At first, this is mainly an experience for Baby to develop the sense of hearing.

When you are shaking the rattle, try to keep a steady beat. (Develops rhythmic ability necessary for learning to talk)

2. Roll the rattle over Baby's skin for a more tactile experience for her. (Develops the sense of touch and hearing)

3. Later, you can hold the rattle close to Baby's hand and touch her hand with the rattle. Eventually, s/he may start to latch onto the rattle...and eventually s/he will move her hand and the bell inside will make a sound. This will develop over several weeks and may not necessarily happen in Baby's first weeks. (Develops ability to grasp with purpose and also the concept of “cause and effect.”)

4. When Baby is a bit older, this rattle is safe for teething.

5.  As always observe and adjust to your Baby’s cues.

LESSON #8. Baby-held Pacifier/ Teether Ball
"Perfect Pacifier" available from Michael Olaf Company
1. Introduce the pacifier teether ball to baby by holding it near her mouth so that she can latch on to it for sucking. (Sucking aids in the development of the muscles in the mouth needed for language development)

2. Roll the teether ball over Baby’s body for a different sensory experience. (Develops the sense of touch)

3. As Baby gains more coordination in the next weeks/months, s/he can begin to hold the pacifier teether in her own hands to get it to her mouth for sucking. (Develops independence)

****If you haven’t done so already, I recommend setting up a sturdy child-size shelf in Baby’s daytime play area. This begins the process of keeping an organized environment for the child in which there is a place for everything and everything in its place.

You can place Baby’s rattles, ball, and block that you have assembled from Nido Basket #1 and #2 in little soft “treasure” baskets on the shelf.


Smaller baskets lined up on a low shelf work better for children (as opposed to a larger box or basket filled with an array of toys). Each basket has a purpose and is well-thought out by the adult.

You can bring this beginning treasure basket over to Baby during awake time. Then, take it back to its place on the shelf when done, so that the routine of keeping order in Baby’s environment is begun right form the start.

I suggest collecting small and medium sized baby-friendly baskets, boxes, and trays that are made of woods, cloths, and natural reeds. These can be filled with Baby-Ed Activities and gradually added to Baby’s shelf during the next months.

In the beginning, place no more than 3 items in a basket. (2 is perfect for the Infant.)

4. Once again, observe and adjust to Baby’s cues. (Develops sense of trust and inner self worth.)

LESSON #9. Baby Animals Black and White Board Book
n
This board book is available at Amazon at this link.
1.  Since this is a Board Book, it is baby-friendly and can be used as a book to read to Baby. Reading to Baby is important from Day 1!  You can read to Baby during awake time when Baby is lying on the floor bed/playmat. (Develops language skills)

2.   This book is illustrated in the high contrast black and white format, so that it is easier for Baby to see the figures in the pictures. Try placing the book upright on the playmat in front of Baby during tummy time. (Develops visual discrimination)

3.   The book suggests copying off the illustrations and making cards for Baby. They can be hung like a mobile at first, and then as Baby matures, they can be used as a Toddler-aged matching game with the pictures in the book. (Develops visual discrimination skills necessary for reading)

5.   As always, observe and adjust to Baby’s cues. (Develops trust and high self esteem

LESSON #10. The Joyful Child, Montessori Global Wisdom from Birth to Three
This Book is available in Paperback and eBook format at Amazon at this link
This is one of my favorite books written by a teacher who actually studied with Dr. Montanaro, who developed Montessori’s infant curriculum.

This book is put out by the Michael Olaf Company, a wonderful resource for purchasing Montessori materials for children 0-9yrs old.

1. Read this book whenever you have a moment. You can even read it aloud to Baby! This will give Baby another language experience as s/he hears the rhythmic cadence, the pitch sounds, and the accents of the words you are reading in a natural speaking voice.

2.  You can download this book, too. Then you can read it while waiting in the dentist office, or on the plane, etc.

3. Give this book to your friends and family, too! There is so much information and ideas for engaging with Baby in the first years of life
WHAT BABY LEARNS FROM THESE
MONTESSORI BABY-ED LESSONS
#1.  Baby has more practice at visual discrimination with the black and white pattern of the blanket and the contrast in texture of the two sides of the blanket.

#2.  This picture isolates the black colored musical instrument, however, the clarinet is not as easy to visually distinguish as the piano was in Nido #1. (Refining visual sense)

#3.  Baby’s sensitive hearing is gradually awakened to quiet sounds produced by live acoustic instruments played by family members. Distinguishing sounds is another pre-cursor for Language development. (speaking)

#4.  Baby begins to differentiate the visual perspective of the spheres in this mobile and stretches the range of vision. Baby begins to track the movement of the objects in the mobile with his/her eyes. Tracking with the eyes is necessary for young children to develop skills for reading in the years to come.

#5.  When the mobiles are alternated, Baby revisits the familiar with new knowledge gained during the days/weeks in between.

#6.  Intentionally moving an object (ex: Sensory Ball) from Baby’s left to right for Baby to view at close range, sets up the subtle pattern for eye movement necessary when reading in Western languages. (For languages read right to left or from top to bottom of the page, you would move the object in that pattern of direction appropriate to your particular home language.)

#7.  When Baby hears the gentle sound of the bell rattle, this stimulates the delicate sense of hearing and promotes sensory learning. (Concept: "cause and effect")

#8.  Since Baby learns through the senses, s/he uses the mouth to explore objects by sucking on them. This sucking develops the muscles of the mouth necessary for the ability to recreate the sounds s/he hears spoken in the home language.

#9.  The strong contrast of black and white illustrations in pictures is easier for the infant to see and helps develop visual discrimination necessary for learning how to read.

#10.  Learning about Montessori and the typical development of the child through reading and research gives your Baby the advantage of having a caring parent who chooses to learn skills of parenting and educating infants.

****The classic Montessori approach to giving lessons to children of any age are founded on these aims for enhancing the child’s development:
·      Order
·      Coordination
·      Concentration
·      Independence
All of the Montessori Baby-Ed lessons have these aims.

THIS POST IS PART OF THE MONTESSORI MONDAY Linkup at Living Montessori Now site. Deb Chitwood has a wonderful article about music appreciation with young children and there are lots more resources and article from Montessori Bloggers world wide. You can check it out here: Montessori Monday Linkup

****A NOTE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC FOR YOUR BABY

Phillip Shepherd, a music educator andrenowned cello player, has researched extensively the effects of emphasizing music with babies and young children. In his book, Music Makes Your Child Smarter, the first chapter is devoted to answering the question, “Can music really make my child smarter?”

He writes:
“ Children are born with an incredible array of musical abilities, including acute sensitivity to pitch, extraordinary rhythmic skills, and the ability to discern subtle differences.

...Intelligence is the capacity to learn and understand new things and making music helps that process. It helps with language and social skills, encourages creativity, and has a positive effect on the mental, physical, and social aspects of childhood development.

Music affects the way the brain develops: Adult musicians’ brains show clear differences from those of non-musicians, particularly in the areas relating to listening, language and the connection between the two sides of the brain.

Learning to play music improves fine motor control and coordination, provides a framework for learning new skills, and helps to reinforce ‘inhibitory controls.’ These controls help children gain mastery over spontaneous reactions.”


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