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Sensitive Periods: Movement


Movement in Early Childhood (product shown: iPlay Super Skipper)

As described by Dr. Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952); children experience phases in the first few crucial years of their lives relating to particular stimulus in their surroundings known as ‘Sensitive periods’. These periods are transitory occurrences that are replaced by new ones each time. Through careful observation, we are able to distinguish and boost these sensitive periods as a child grows. First, we must learn to comprehend these periods as important and necessary to help a child acquire certain abilities and traits that are crucial for their development and wellbeing. Sensitive periods are all interwoven and each act as a footing for the next.


From as early as birth to 4 years of age, children undergo a sensitive period to movement. Movement includes both maneuvering around a given area as well as manipulating materials within it. Movement also enables children to explore a setting with more ease, keeping them excited and eager learners as they physically explore their way around and about. Preparing and encouraging your child during this period will ensure steady development in hand-eye coordination and gross and fine motor skills. One way to do this is to provide your child with materials that are suitable and age appropriate.

Age appropriate materials are necessary, a factor that all caregivers and teachers, especially those in a Montessori setting, would have to put much thought and consideration into when preparing the environment. Using a standard motor developmental chart for children between the ages of 0 to 4 years enables us to distinguish what some of these materials are.

Age Appropriate materials for toddlers:

Toddlers up to the age of 2 ½ years are full of energy and curiosity. They learn through imitation and imagination. They are also very much attracted to colors, animals, shapes, sounds and objects that allow them to grasp.

Some of these toys include,

  • Toys with knobs, handles, buttons
  • Simple animal, people or vehicle puzzles with large puzzle pieces
  • Toys with music, different sounds and songs
  • Children’s picture books that are colorful and eye-catching
  • Electronic materials that allow toddlers to mimic speech and actions
  • Push/pull objects that encourage children to walk and move around

Don’t forget to encourage repetition of such materials, as repetition is an essential process in order for the child to refine his/her skills. Outdoor activities would also engage a child well physically during this period.

Age Appropriate materials for preschoolers:

Preschoolers between 2 ½ to 4 years of age start picking up interest in others around them. They take pride in their already mastered skills from their toddler years, and look forward to refining and expanding these skills. They are building self-esteem through the materials they use and may be put off easily if they get stuck somewhere along the line. Their curiosity continues to grow and they are now more confident in their sense of movement.  

Some toys that would help include,

  • Toys that educate them with a sense of big and small, tall and short, heavy and light
  • Concepts in math and science including counting, relating number to quantity and vice versa, simple measurements and balance
  • Toys that allow or require more than one child to play
  • Toys that encourage dramatic/imaginary play
  • Storybooks that encourage the child to participate – these are books that have simple words, short phrases and bigger fonts
  • Equipment that encourages gross motor skills like hula hoops, skipping ropes and balls

Remember, giving a child something that is either too simple or too difficult for him/her to tackle independently can lead to negative consequences. This includes disheartening, intimidation and indifference.

With these helpful hints on age appropriate materials, your task as a guiding and nurturing parent has just been made a little easier during your child’s sensitive period for movement and manipulation. Just like in a classroom where teachers prepare and engage their students according to their level of development, you can begin to do the same at home while spending quality time with your child/children.


About TOYconomy

TOYconomy is an online toy rental and exchange program that can help you significantly decrease toy clutter and help you save money and resources by being more selective about the toys you choose. Founded and established in 2010 by a mother of three in Richmond, VA, TOYconomy’s mission is to help you keep your kids happy and healthy without having to burn big bucks.

TOYconomy is available at http://www.TOYconomy.com/.


About the Author

Sarah Jane is certified & trained in Montessori Teaching, with years of expansive knowledge and experience with young children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Sarah Jane expresses her love and interest for child development through her writing, constantly sharing and promoting awareness to parents and educational workers from all walks of life. She is also the co-founder of a multinational marketing firm Hot Fry Media (http://hotfrymedia.com).

© Sarah Jane 2011


News and Updates: Eco-Smart Tips, Less Clutter, a New Voice and More!


Eco-Smart Tips for Shopping for Your Little Ones

Submitted by: Dorinda Bredbenner, www.raisinggreenrichmondkids.com
As a mother, former early childhood teacher, and earth enthusiast  I am committed to raising green children and I hope to inspire others to do the same.  At our home we try to buy organic, reduce our waste, use rain barrels, teaching our young children the art of taking short showers, use non-toxic cleaning products, recycle, and compost along with other small changes we have made in our lifestyle to be more eco-friendly.

Here are a few eco-smart tips for parents when shopping for your little ones:

Look for PVC-free:
From production to disposal, PVC ( polyvinyl chloride) is associated with the use and release of hazardous chemicals. Many PVC toys also contain phthalates, chemical compounds that make the PVC plastic more flexible, which initial studies have linked to both cancer and hormonal disruption. The long-term effects of phalates on children is not fully known but it’s better to be safe now. The plastic number associated with PVC is #3 and it’s not recycleable.

Second-hand magic:
This is why companies like Toyconomy are such a great idea.  What a great way to be eco-friendly and keep toys out of the landfill.  Use a toy for a few months, return it, and rent some new ones.

Wood toys are a great way to go:
Look for FSC-certified wood to find sustainable toys that will last generations longer than the cheap plastic stuff. For the little ones, untreated, unpainted wood is safe to chew unlike plastics that contain PVC. When your child is done, wooden toys can be passed on to a relative, friend, to give it a second life. The FSC certification is
important, it ensures that the wood you buy has been forested responsibly, allowing for sustainable growth.

Power down:
Batteries have become second nature in most toys today. For the young ones, decide if all the battery-powered noise is worth it. Could your child stay just as entertained with a simpler toy? For the older ones that absolutely must have the newest electronics, look into rechargeable batteries to eliminate waste.

Raising Green Richmond Kids is committed to helping parents raise eco-smart children by teaching them more positive ways to cook, garden, clean, make crafts, and explore the world around them.   Dorinda Bredbenner is an independent eco-consultant for Green Irene and a blog writer. She also teaches eco-art classes for preschoolers at the Mom’s Treehouse.

More About Dorinda…

As a mother, former early childhood teacher, and earth enthusiast  I am committed to raising green children and I hope to inspire others to do the same.  At our home we try to buy organic, reduce our waste, use rain barrels, teaching our young children the art of taking short showers, use non-toxic cleaning products, recycle, and compost along with other small changes we have made in our lifestyle to be more eco-friendly.

I meet many parents who are trying to instill green habits in their children by making changes in their family lifestyle.  As an eco-consultant I perform in home consultations and home parties along with workshops called “Raising Green Children.” The eco-art classes focuses on teaching young children to create art with recycled and non-toxic materials.  My blog is full of eco-craft ideas, recipes, homemade laundry detergent, natural lip balm, what you should know about chemicals in cleaners, veggie gardening with children. To learn more about my services please go to www.RaisingGreenRichmondKids.com and check out the Mom’s Treehouse in Richmond, VA schedule for art class times.

TOYconomy News and Updates: Need a Babysitter? Like to Stay Fit? Read On!