I updated Baby Bee’s toy shelves this week. Since September, her toys have been Autumn themed, with just a few additions along the way following Bee’s developing interests and skills. But now we’ve tipped over into December, I’ve given them a sprinkling of Christmas magic.
Bee has just turned 16 months, and her main focuses are still on people and the world around her. Her ideal day would be spent outdoors, with free rein to explore and discover, like our recent walk to the post box. At home, she favours activities that keep her close by me, and usually with real life objects and activities. At the moment she loves emptying all the paper out of the recycling box and climbing in herself, or taking the cloth wipes off the radiator to put in the drawer, or ‘cleaning’ with a cloth.
She does have a few favourite toys, and I’ve made sure to keep them on her Christmas shelves.
Bee is obsessed with Happyland figures. The builder was her first one (smuggled out of playgroup by her tiny hands) and has been on her shelves ever since. We’ve added to her collection, and Bee is equally attached to them all. We often find them in strange places around the house, usually inside shoes. I’ve also included her large Green Toys fire truck. At playgroup, I often find Bee playing with the vehicles. She seems to have a real fascination with the wheels. Bee watches and copies me when I introduce basic small world play, but for the moment I think the mimicking is more a social tool.
I found the ball tower in a charity shop and couldn’t believe my luck. It’s perfect for Bee at this stage in her development. She understands how to place the balls in the top, and can accurately use the hammer to hit them down. It’s a joy to watch her excitement at the effect her actions cause. The jigsaw was one of Bee’s 1st birthday presents and she’s not really shown much interest in it until now. She increasingly understands to keep trying the shapes in different holes, using more dexterity and less force. I love toys like jigsaws and the ball tower as they follow a very Montessori principle – self-correction. Bee can play with them independently and the toy itself gives her feedback on her success. It eliminates the need for outside judgement and supports her own self-appraisal.
The megablocks are another of our concessions to plastic. Bee finds them much more interesting than the wooden blocks because they connect together. They appeal to her growing interest in objects that fit together or belong with each other. Her satisfaction is definitely in the way they slide on top of each other, and less about actually building anything.
I wanted to give Bee some Christmas decorations that she could handle and explore. The large jingle bell and snowflake bucket are a huge hit. Big enough to not fit in her mouth but still small enough for little hands, the jingle bell has now become a treasured object. Bee has also recently shown a fascination with collecting items into a little bag, hooking it onto her arm (I don’t know where she gets that from) and walking around with it. So, she adores the little bucket. I’ve also made Bee a Christmas Treasure Bottle, just like her Autumn Treasure Bottle, containing tiny loose jingle bells, small baubles and tinsel. It’s a little bottle of Christmas.
I couldn’t do a Christmas play environment without including jingle bells. Bee absolutely adores music. Music is a really important part of our family life, and I believe it plays a key role in the development of listening and attention skills. Joining in with nursery rhymes is one of Bee’s favourite activities, so we sing together every day. She also loves exploring musical instruments, especially Daddy’s guitar. The jingle bells are really loud, but she has such great fun shaking them about. Luckily I’m a Christmas-ophile, so come December I can listen to Christmas songs on repeat all day long.
And lastly, Bee’s Christmas shelves wouldn’t be complete without a nativity. Like the Happyland figures, Bee has really taken to these little people. In fact, Mary and the Angel Gabriel often join the Policeman and the Firefighter for an adventure.* When Bee is older, we will use this set in the traditional way, adding each figure in the lead up to Christmas, as part of her advent.
Bee’s Christmas shelves also contain some great Christmas/Winter themed books, including a lovely simple introduction to the nativity. I’ll tell you all about them in my next post.
*I didn’t mean for this to sound as naughty as it does 😉