DIY Montessori – The Gobbi Mobile

My higher drive for organization this year is probably due to  a little change my husband and I welcomed into our lives recently:

We have always agreed that we would homeschool if we could swing it.  Montessori was always our plan, so I was very excited to find out that Montessori covered babies in her curriculum as well!  So like any good homeschooling mama, I took to the interwebs to find out how much of the infant materials I could DIY.  As usual, the blogosphere did not disappoint.  Although the information on Montessori for infants was not nearly as vast as I had hoped, the resources I did find happen to be totally amazing (links to follow in a post next week!)

There are three mobiles in the Montessori sequence: Munari, Octahedron, and Gobbi.  I am not emotionally ready to talk about the long drawn out process of creating the Munari mobile, and my husband (who loves all things paper folding) made the Octahedron mobile.  Also, I actually remembered to take some pictures of the Gobbi making process.  So here goes my first tutorial – although I think it is more of a literature review on the subject 🙂

My first step was to consult the wonderful tutorial I found at Sew Liberated.  (My blog has a big crush on her blog).  Next I was off to find some roving that would fit the bill.  Well, first I had to figure out what roving is.  Then I had to find some in a perfectly graded color palette.  Needless to say, my local big box craft stores let me down.  So where do I go when I have a crafty need that a national corporation cannot fill?

ETSY!

Thanks to CurlyFurr, I was able to procure exactly what I needed: five perfect pieces of dyed roving in graded shades of blue (plus a white one for practice – highly recommended).

Really, the wool was beautifully packaged until I ripped it open out of sheer excitemet.

If you can’t find such a perfect assortment ready made, I’m sure there are tons of wool dyers out there waiting to do a custom job for you!

The next step was creating felted balls out of these sheep-scented (in the most lovely way possible) puffs.  I was skeptical that these would ever turn into something firm, but if Martha says so, I’m always willing to give it a shot.  Typically, after starting to follow Martha’s instructions, I went searching for an alternate source of help.  Thanks, Mill Girl!

Mill Girl was smart enough to do this in her kitchen.  I am not.  Plus, rolling these puppies was a more fun in front of a Buffy marathon the perfect time for deep meditation.  So I made a big, watery mess despite my use of a cookie sheet.  But hey, making a mess with soapy water is just one step away from plain old cleaning, so really I was just multitasking.

The watery mess arose because of the felting process.  You fashion the wool into balls, then dip the wool ball into the hot soapiness and then start rolling between your hands, very lightly at first and then a bit harder, until the wool starts to firm up.  Mill Girl, in her infinite wisdom, suggests using rubber gloves and only a drop of soap in a measuring cup filled with water.  I used bare hands and had a soap-ocalypse thanks to Martha’s suggestions, but in the end I managed to come up with five relatively even sized spheres with no evidence of seams (you don’t want that because then your perfectly shaped balls will come apart).  After a quick rinse to get out the oodles of soap (seriously, don’t use a lot of soap), the first and most challenging part of the mobile making was complete!

Then I let the balls sit on our cooling rack for days thanks to out moist Pacific Northwest air.  Once they were dry, I used a needle and some fishing line to hang them on a wooden dowel cut to about eight inches in length.  The hardest part was knotting the fishing line at the top.  I’m sure there is some special knot for such an occasion, but I just used a regular old square knot.  I think it would be worth it to do some knot research though, as these tend to slide around on the dowel.  I used some clear tape to prevent the balls from sliding off the end of the mobile.  For us, it works – and the baby doesn’t seem to mind the real DIY look.  Measuring out the fishing line would probably have been helpful too, since the balls on our mobile are not perfectly lined up.  Again, baby loves it anyway, and I need to stop being a perfectionist as I may have mentioned before.

So here is the finished product with a happy dude lying underneath.

He loves it!  His record for focusing on this mobile is 45 minutes!  That is a lot of time for mama to get chores done – and everyone we meet comments on his ability to focus for long periods of time even without his super awesome mobile present.  I think we will rate this one among many homeschooling successes (hopefully) to come.

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