All parents want to give their baby the best start in life. We go to great lengths to give them only the purest food, the safest cribs, the softest blankets, the most versatile strollers. We try to stimulate them mentally by teaching them language (maybe more than one!), hand signs and music. We research the best psychologist approved toys and board books and read to them before they are even a month old.
I know this from experience; I was a Research-Everything-Pregnant-Lady not even a year ago. Together with making my own baby food (which you can read about here), the thing I am most happy I took the time to do with my little one was the Montessori Mobile Series.
The Montessori Method is an all-encompassing childhood education philosophy. It’s about letting the child learn through experience and observation of the natural world—so, for example, the baby feeds himself with a metal spoon off his glass plate at his own table that he comes and goes from rather than being buckled into a high chair and spoon fed with plastic dishes at the will of his parents. A Montessori parent foregoes the crib for a mattress on the floor, allowing the baby to get up without needing a parent to go back to sleep on his own. A Montessori child doesn’t have a million loud battery operated toys but rather plays with a few simple wooden toys that have a purpose, such as shape sorting or eye-hand coordination.
There is so much more to the Montessori Method than my three examples, and if it interests you even slightly I highly recommend you do some research. There may even be a Montessori Nursery or Playschool where you live! I don’t prescribe to the entire Montessori Method myself, but there are quite a few principles I definitely follow.
One of the earliest tools of the Montessori parent is the Mobile Series. There is a specific mobile for each stage of early baby brain development. A very young baby can only see black and white a few inches from his face, so you use the black and white mobile and hang it low to the ground. As the baby’s brain develops to the point where they can see colours, you switch to the colourful mobiles. When the baby begins reaching for things, you switch to the bell mobile. And so on. Makes sense, right? Dr. Montessori figured this all out and created the mobiles to fit each stage of baby development.
But here’s the thing…you need quite a few of them, and if you’re going to buy them all it can be pretty expensive. But none of the mobiles are particularly complicated and in fact all of them are easy to make (some more time consuming than others). I scoured the internet and found tutorials for almost all of the mobiles and made them myself. Now, I did this while I was pregnant with my first baby, so I didn’t have a job to go to or a baby to look after. If that hadn’t been the case I may have been willing to just buy them all! I ended up buying only one mobile because making it was beyond my capabilities.
OK, here is the list of links to all the tutorials I used to make the Montessori mobiles, with a few comments of my DIY experience added in. (There are three more mobiles in the series that I did not make. First was one that was black and white images that you could just print or draw yourself, or even use the pieces from the Munari. The other two were variations on #6; I chose butterflies but you could do whales and/or hummingbirds.) This wonderful post from Little Red Farm explains what age range each mobile is used for.
I hope having these links in one place helps just a tiny bit in your DIY Montessori Mobile project. Get started, they will take some time!
one: Munari Mobile Tutorial by Little Red Farm. I used craft foam to make the shapes. If you can’t find the ball at a craft supply store, do a search for a “clear plastic Christmas ball ornament” online and you’ll be in business, Ebay has everything!
two: Octahedron Mobile Tutorial by Little Red Farm. I actually used wrapping paper and double sided tape for this one.
three: Gobbi Mobile Tutorial by The Full Montessori. This one is actually pretty time consuming, and it takes a lot of string. I used thread left over from finished cross stitch projects which was quite stressful because I never knew if I was going to run out. So save your sanity and just buy 3 full skeins of each colour.
four: Dancers Mobile Tutorial by Texas Health Moms. I just had regular cardstock which I glued together, not self-adhesive.
five: Flowing Rhythm Mobile. I couldn’t find a tutorial for this online, so what I did was just cut out the shape on crafting foam and poked a hole in the centre to tie the layers together following the order of this picture from How We Montessori. I made a little yellow pom pom out of yarn for the bottom. The problem with crafting foam, however, is that one layer was too thin and it just bowed and wobbled, but two layers glued together were too thick and they didn’t spin. So I will try remaking this will heavy cardstock for next time.
six: Butterflies Mobile. I couldn’t find a tutorial for this one either, so what I did was find high quality images online of a red, blue, yellow, cream and orange butterfly and printed them on two pieces of paper—one as a mirror image of the other. Then I cut them out and glued them together with cardstock in between so they were double sided. To string them, I formed a pyramid shape with the string like Martha Stewart did in this butterfly mobile video.
seven: Bell on a Ribbon. No tutorial is needed for this one. For me it was less expensive to buy the bell and the wooden ring with the elastic on Etsy than it was to buy the parts separately…remember, I live in the middle of nowhere with no stores!
eight: Wooden Ring on an Elastic (see #7).
nine: Primary Colours Mobile Tutorial by Montessori Casa. I used craft foam for these and used a needle to tie the string through it, super easy!
ten: Wooden Bell Chimes. This is the mobile that I was simply not qualified to make, so I purchased it from the Michael Olaf Montessori Store
I hung the mobiles from a little hook in the ceiling. I stored the unused mobiles by tying a piece of rope across the room and hanging all the mobiles on it. One word of caution: if that rope should fall and all your mobiles should tumble to the ground in a pile, the invisible fishing line thread will be impossible to untangle and you will have to cut them all and re-tie them…not that I would know from experience or anything…
ps: if you’re wondering why I cropped off my beautiful (and brilliant, thanks to these mobiles!) baby’s face, you can read my reasons why here.
Carter’s Polar Fleece Mint Fair Isle Romper: no longer available from Carters but I found it on Amazon
These pictures were all taken with an iPhone 5c, pre-blogging days! (Normally I use the Olympus O-MD E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm IIR lens)