It was really important for me that Bee have her own space in the living room. Our home is after all shared between the three of us and so should cater for, and represent all our needs and interests.
I keep the shelves relatively uncluttered. It serves several purposes. I believe that having enticingly displayed objects in a space that is clearly defined, not only captures Bee’s attention, but also helps her form concepts about where objects belong, how things are linked and how they should be looked after. Obviously, at 14 months the looking after belongings is still in its early stages, but by displaying her toys with the same respect we show to our own books, ornaments, craft projects etc (just to list a few of the things on the top half of our shelves) hopefully she will come to understand how to care for her own belongings. This method of organising Bee’s toys also makes tidying up really quick and simple, as everything has its place and it means that our living space is also aesthetically pleasing to us as adults.
In addition to the three shelves, Bee currently has a simple wooden rocking horse and a toddle pod in front of the fireplace with a blanket and a couple of soft toys, alongside a small basket of books and song bag.
Bee’s autumn shelves reflect both the changing season and her current interests.
A large Jellycat black and white cat – Now Bee is a little more steady on her feet she can handle larger toys without tripping over them or overbalancing. Because she has just begun to properly cuddle things (I say things because she will cuddle anything – daddy’s shoes, pieces of rubbish…) I thought she might enjoy holding and manipulating a soft toy that is much larger than those she is used to.
Autumn treasure bottle – A collection of treasures found on our recent trip to RHS Harlow Carr. Bee loves looking at the objects inside, watching how they slide and rattle around.
A box of fabric leaves and Wind book – Bee loves to carefully take this box off the shelf and bring it to me so I can throw the leaves up in the air around her. They flutter down beautifully and are much less of a mess than having real leaves indoors. The Wind book is a charity shop find and a lovely companion to the leaves. It has great illustrations of children experiencing wind (most including leaves) and the lyrical text is wonderfully onomatopoeic.
Meg and Mog book – I loved this book as a child and while the text is maybe a little too advanced for Bee she really enjoys looking at the brightly coloured pictures. Of all the books on her shelf, this is the one she chooses most often.
Pumpkins – Bee is so funny with this pumpkin. She likes to carry it around cuddling it (see there she goes cuddling strange things again!) and then hurl it across the carpet like a bowling ball. I think she enjoys the weight of it, it really is quite heavy for her, and like the oversized cat toy extends her experiences of different sizes and weights. I made the two fabric pumpkins many moons ago as part of our Halloween decorations.
A Jellycat rabbit (Nanna Rabbit) with blanket and Night Night book – Bee’s Nanna gave her the rabbit, hence the name, so it’s a special toy and Bee has strong associations with it. I made a little blanket and laid the rabbit in a basket as Bee is becoming increasingly interested in babies. Her favourite song at the moment is Miss Polly Has A Dolly and she makes a beeline for any babies we meet when out and about. Bee likes me to wrap Nanna Rabbit up in the blanket so she can then cuddle her, kiss her and rock her. We’re still working on the laying down gently in the basket. The Night Night book was another charity shop find and has lovely illustrations of woodland animals going to sleep in their natural environments.
Light and dark treasure basket – I wanted to put together a collection of objects for Bee that explored light, dark and reflections influenced by the darker days, lights, fireworks, rain and longer nights that we associate with autumn. Currently it only has five items – a black cotton scarf with stars on, a cd, some holographic wrapping paper and two flashing sensory balls. Bee loves the balls, knows how to bounce them to make them flash and is really drawn to how bright they are. They’re especially effective at dusk, when we have drawn the curtains and the living room is all dark and cosy.
Three blocks and a builder – These have remained from her summer shelves. Bee has just figured out how to stack one block on top of another so I wanted her to have the opportunity to practice this new skill. I found that having lots of bricks was too overwhelming, and messy, and as she is only at the very beginning of her tower building adventures three blocks is quite enough of a challenge. The builder is one of Bee’s favourite toys. She discovered him at a playgroup and brought him home without me noticing. This little builder was the first thing I could ask Bee to go and find and she would fetch him. I don’t think I could put him away even if I wanted to.
A pumpkin bucket full of apples – We are lucky enough to have an apple tree in the garden and it’s currently creaking under the weight of all its apples. Each week Bee and I fill the bucket up and Bee has freshly picked apples to play with and explore. They’re usually covered in bruises and little bite marks by the end of the week which means they’re ready to throw into the sensory tray and new ones need picking.
Bee’s autumn shelves will probably stay this way until December, unless something is really not working or she has a new experience that I want to incorporate.
I’m already scouring the charity shops for her Winter shelves.