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Object Permanence - 3 Ways

Object permanence toys are some of my absolute favorite Montessori infant/toddler materials. They are just so beautifully simple and different from anything I had known before I found Montessori. And, they speak so perfectly to the needs of older babies. It helps too that all of my Montessori babies have been obsessed with these types of toys. Right, now object permanence toys are Teddy's absolute favorite materials. 

These toys take an object (often a ball, but not always) and the baby places it in something. The object "disappears" and then the baby does something and the object returns. These toys reinforce the concept of object permanence - that just because we can't see something doesn't mean it no longer exists. Here's a look at 3 toys Teddy uses that incorporate object permanence.

1. Object Permanence Box

With this classic Montessori baby toy, you place the ball in the hole in the top, and a hidden ramp inside the box returns the ball to the tray a moment later. So the ball "disappears" into the hole and returns back to the baby. I introduce this around 8 months, but usually my babies only care about the ball for about the first 4-6 weeks! Then, its all about the box!

Even now at 10 months old, Teddy can't get enough of this work. I bet this is one of his most used materials throughout the day. 

2. Imbucare Board with Ball

This is a newer material for us and it is turning out to be a big hit with Teddy. With this material the baby places the ball into the hole and it disappears out of sight to the other side. They can then reach around to the other side and see the ball. 

I introduced this material at 9 months with Teddy. At first, he was only interested in the ball (which was an underwhelming quality in my opinion, I'm hunting for a similar replacement.) But, after a couple weeks he started to get more interested in using the ball on the board.

At this point, he still doesn't place the ball in the hole, but over the top of the board. Then he peaks around to grab the ball and repeat. I anticipate that he will eventually discover the hole (which we model for him) and use it that way. 

3. Box with Sliding Lid

This is the newest object permanence toy that I have introduced with Teddy. I introduced it at 10 months, and it is still a big challenge for him. With this material, small toys or shapes can be used in one side of the box. The lid then slides over that side to cover them from view, and revealing an empty side. So a baby can slide the lid back and forth, discovering and hiding items from view.  

At this point, Teddy is mostly interested in the cylinder that I placed in the box. That's totally alright! Just like with the other two toys, I expect that he will be interested in the "item" for a bit before exploring how it works. Gus had this material too and worked with it until well after his first birthday, so I bet we have some time. 

There are other Montessori object permanence options available that you could offer your baby. Or it's also possible that your baby doesn't really feel called to this type of work. Close observation will help you decide how much and when to offer these types of materials. 

Does your baby like object permanence work? 


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