We have a secondary shelf upstairs which Joshua works at before bath, in the mornings after getting up and waiting for me to shower or before going for a nap. We found it necessary as we have upstairs and downstairs at our house and I found that Joshua enjoyed working nearby while I am busy.
I have tended to put materials on this secondary shelf that I do not have available downstairs. Puzzles are a good way to fill in some time and engage Joshua for a reasonable period of time in a small area that I have upstairs. I have reserved the bigger items such as art and blocks for downstairs. One of the puzzles is reasonably basic for Joshua but he loves shapes and geometry so this is there for him to work on. He has mastered the leaf and fire engine but the life cycle of a butterfly puzzle is proving to be challenging for him, the multiple layers are enough to keep him working hard.
I have also made available some items for counting – Joshua’s number book and the 1-5 discs stacking puzzle – as Joshua has shown interest in counting and letters (letter book) as well as some cars and tools and some Duplo.
1. Life Cycle of a Bee
2, Life Cycle of a Turtle
We have recently added two new puzzles to our collection of the life cycle of turtles and life cycle of bees. Joshua is particularly enjoying the turtle puzzle, he is very drawn to sea life and our recent visit to the aquarium and the zoo have been great experiences for him. These puzzles are beautiful and realistic layered photo puzzles, it makes me wonder why toy makers and manufacturers don’t make more of these for children instead of abstract or cartoonish type puzzles and toys. If you are overseas they are quite hard to find, this is a UK based company but I did find the website here, there are links to where these retail from overseas.
Do you have a secondary work area for your child? If you have any puzzle recommendations I would love to hear them.
Here is a quick overview of our shelves at 32 months (clockwise from top left):
- Basket of vehicles
Joshua uses these for his block play. They are from various sources, including Lego.
- Nature basket
We add to this regularly as Joshua loves collecting rocks, sticks and leaves. He is using this basket for some of his art activities too.
- Threading small beads with a thin string
Joshua has not done threading for a while so I put out a small challenge for him. These are actually probably for older children as they are so small but they are making him work hard. I cannot find the ones that we have online but I like these and these as alternatives.
- Photos of architecture around the world
I put together this on a whim. It is near his block play area and is giving him ideas for things to build.
- Rock display
Joshua loves rocks. This is a collection of rocks that all have names which I am teaching Joshua what they are all are. We have a little magnifying glass so that Joshua can look at these up close if he chooses to, especially the small ones. Joshua has these and these. The magnifying glass is a hand me down but there are many you can purchase quite easily, ranging from your local toy shop or Australian Geographic. I particularly like the look of this and this.
- Art tray – textas on paper
These are fabulous. I am an advocate for water based textas as well as really good quality art materials. We use these. These can be used with water too, we have not yet experimented with this.
- Tap tap hammer activity
Joshua has been hammering away for a while now. You can buy kits of these but we already had a few parts at home so I got out some cork heat mats we have and a hammer from another set and paired these with the pins and shapes. You can get these from many toys shops.
- Play dough and tools
Joshua is loving play dough at the moment. I make our play dough as it is fun, easy and so easy for me to make this plain or make it more sensory. Lately we have had lavender play dough and this week we have spring time play dough. The tools are fantastic, he uses these to poke, prod, cut and roll away at the dough. You can get lots of different tools but I loved these because they are so natural looking. I also included in there some proper cookie dough cutters which I picked up for a few dollars on sale at our local Aldi. These are preferable to the ones that are sometimes provided for children that are plastic, these do not cut shapes well and break easily. Joshua loves cutting out shapes using the proper cookie cutters. You will see he also has a metal spoon and knife in there to use on the play dough as well.
I have made more of a conscious effort to have more art trays available for Joshua as I like for these to be available for him to get for himself rather than having to ask or digging through our art cupboard. The side effect of this is that he is able to find something for himself to do easily and also is doing a lot more art which I love seeing. We have a lot of Christmas presents and artwork to give to friends and family as presents this year. He is really showing a flair and interest in art and it reinforces my efforts to freshen up his shelves.
An Eye that Sees
A Hand that Obeys
A Soul that Feels
The truth is that when a free spirit exists, it has to materialise itself in some form of work, and for this the hands are needed. Everywhere we find traces of men’s handiwork, and through these we can catch a glimpse o his spirit and the thoughts of his time.
– Maria Montessori