3. Take it apart or put it together.Infants often prefer taking things apart before putting things together because it’s easier for them. For infants, set up toys in a way where they need to be deconstructed. Want to encourage them to play with blocks? Build a tower - guaranteed they’ll want to knock it over and now their interest is piqued.
The flip side of this is a child in their sensitive period for order that wants things to be put together and organized. An undone puzzle may attract their attention more than a completed one will.
4. Put all the materials for an activity together. Keeping everything needed for an activity, neatly contained in one tray or basket, piques a child’s interest and helps them to stay focused.
This helps to prevent your child from having to make multiple trips to get things they need or dig through a bin full of toys. When that happens, they can lose interest, get discouraged, or get distracted.
3. Rotate Materials
You might have heard about toy rotation thinking it's some complicated process but it's really just putting away some of your child's toys/activities/Montessori materials for awhile and then bringing them back out again at a later date.
Because children under six change so much, putting away an activity even just for a month or two could mean they use it completely differently and have a renewed interest in the material.
Over those few months, they've learned more skills, their hands are stronger, and their language is more developed. These newfound skills will lead them to use materials differently.
The other benefit of toy rotation is that is means a simpler, cleaner looking play space. You put fewer toys out at a time so there's less clean up each day AND your child will feel less overwhelmed by all the choices.
How To Do Toy Rotation - A Few Simple Ideas to Follow
1. When to Rotate Toys
This doesn't have to be done on a set schedule and you don't have to get rid of all the toys currently out and replace everything at once.
As always in Montessori - "follow the child”. If they haven’t played with something in a week or two, it may be time to rotate it out. If they’re still actively playing with something, keep it out.
2. Note HOW The Toys Are Being Used
Materials and toys that are being mishandled or inviting really boisterous play can also be rotated out. This is typically a sign that your child has gotten everything they can from the material as it's intended and now they're looking for new uses - like how it sounds when it's dropped or thrown against the wall.
Part one of this topic suggested making the toy set up less complicated and overwhelming by taking away some of the pieces.
If your child has become uninterested in a material that they were previously enjoying, it might be time to add more pieces and make it more challenging. Material rotation in Montessori classrooms is based on building off of previous skills and adding developmentally appropriate challenges.
At home you can do this by putting out more Magnatiles, adding more cars or blocks to the basket/tray, or using smaller pom poms or marbles for transfer activities.