There are four mobiles that are part of the traditional Montessori visual mobiles series, the Munari Mobile, the octahedron mobile, the Gobbi mobile, and the dancers mobile. These mobiles support the development of the newborn’s visual sense and ability to concentrate.
The mobiles are presented one at a time, for a few weeks, before rotating to the next mobile. The exact time to rotate will depend on your child, so be sure to observe to see when they get bored or lose interest to know when to rotate. You can bring back a previously seen mobile, and you can have more or less mobiles if you like (see some tips at the end of the article for how to pick other mobiles.)
Hang the mobiles 8-12 inches above them in the play area. Refrain from hanging the mobile over the sleeping area, because it can be too stimulating. As the baby gets older, their vision will improve (and so will their arm’s reach!) and you will want to move the mobiles slightly farther away. Some babies may get nervous about the mobiles being directly over them and prefer having the mobile slightly off to the side instead of directly over their face.
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The Munari mobile was originally designed by Bruno Munari as an art project. He called it a useless machine and describes it in the introduction to his book Design as Art. It’s an interesting and brief read if you’re interested.
This mobile is the first Montessori mobile introduced to the newborn and can presented when they are only a few days old. Research has shown that newborns have an easier time focusing on high contrast objects that are near to their face and are still developing their ability to track an object as it moves.
I made this mobile with foam board, instead of just printer paper so that the pieces would be heavier and a little less “fluttery”.
Montessori Munari Mobile Tutorial
- Printout of the Munari shapes. Download the tutorial to get the printable.
- Foam core board.
- Thin dowels
- Light thread
- Black and white paint, scissors and glue
- Bruno Munari called for a “blown glass sphere”, but plastic Christmas ornaments will work well here. Clear is traditional, but more importantly, make sure the orb is shiny and catches light.
Paint the dowels. One white, one black, and one black and white striped.
Bruno Munari had proportions in his plans, and in other tutorials online, folks will prescribe exact lengths for the dowels. I say leave them all long and then when you get to assembly, trim the dowels down until everything is balanced.
Create the Munari Pieces
Cut all of the Munari shapes out of paper. Paste one side of each shape onto the foam and then carefully cut the foam pieces out.
Glue the corresponding shape to the backside of the foam. Now your Munari shapes are double sided.
Using a needle, sew a thread through the shapes and leave a long tail.
Assemble the Mobile
The lengths and heights of the pieces and thread aren’t an exact measurement. What you’re aiming for is balance and attractiveness.
Build it from the ‘bottom up’. Make the striped dowel first, then balance that on the black dowel with the round piece. Then balance all of that on the white dowel with the glass orb.
This Montessori mobile is made of three eight-sided shapes (octahedron!) in the three primary colors.
At this stage of development, babies have better depth perception and ability to discern colors. The octahedron shape gives the child a three-dimensional shape that naturally has color variation and depth to it. For maximum color contrast, we use the three primary colors.
Montessori Octahedron Mobile Tutorial
- Shiny paper in red, blue, and yellow. I found paper at my local craft store in the scrapbook paper area, recycled gift bags can also work!
- Three beads or similar
- A dowel or similar
If needed, cut down your scrapbook paper into 8.5″ x 11″ sheet to fit into your printer. Check your printer settings, and then print the template onto the back of the paper.
Download the tutorial to get the template.
Carefully cut out the octahedron pieces.
Tie a bead onto the thread securely. Leave a long tail. This will act as a stopper and keep the octahedron from slipping off the mobile.
Fold along the lines and then glue or tape the tabs down. Before closing the final tab, put the beaded thread inside the octahedron.
Space the octahedrons evenly across the dowel. Traditionally, the two outer shapes are hung evenly, and the center shape is hung lower. Color order doesn’t matter.
I couldn’t find the history of this mobile, or how it got the name “Gobbi”, let me know in the comments if you know! The mobile itself is a set of five spheres in varying shades of the same color. The balls are hung from a dowel (or a hanger like I did)
The Gobbi mobile is the third Montessori mobile that is introduced to the newborn. By the time you introduce this mobile, your baby will have developed a stronger ability to track objects and they will be more sensitive to color gradation. At this stage your baby may also have developed better hand eye coordination and will try to bat the mobile. With supervision, you can lower the mobile just enough so that they can swat the lowest sphere.
Montessori Gobbi Mobile Tutorial
Gather your materials
- Styrofoam balls
- Five colors of embroidery floss. Any color scheme will work as long as they go from light to dark. Buy two skeins of each color.
- Something to hang the balls off of. I used a hanger.
Make holes in the balls
Make large holes through the centers of the styrofoam balls. I used a knitting needle and then a pencil to make mine large enough.
Wrap the Floss
With a long blunt needle, wrap the embroidery floss around the sphere. Make sure that none of the styrofoam shows through! Leave a long tail when you finish wrapping to tie the ball to the hanger.
Hang the Balls
Hang the balls on the hanger. I wrapped the tails around the rail and applied a bit of glue to keep everything in place. There isn’t an exact measurement to follow, just make them evenly spaced across and diagonally.
This mobile gives the impression of dancers through some curvy geometric shapes. Each dancer is made of three pieces including a head, arms and legs. The shiny paper catches the light and makes a really lovely light display.
You baby’s vision is improving, they are able to focus and concentrate much longer than before and the muscles in the neck have strengthened significantly so your baby can really follow the dancers as they flit around.
Montessori Dancers Mobile Tutorial
- I purchased this mobile frame on Amazon, but you could easily use dowels and thread as in previous tutorials.
- Holographic paper in contrasting colors. I picked blue and gold.
- Dancer template printed on regular paper. The template is available in the tutorial download.
Prepare the shiny paper
Paste the paper back to back with a glue stick, so that both sides will be shiny as the mobile flutters in the air.
Cut out the dancers
Cut out the dancer pieces from the template and then carefully trace the design onto the holographic paper.
Cut the pieces out, keeping track of which piece is which.
Assemble the Mobile
With a fine thread, string the pieces together, creating four dancers.
Hang the dancers at different heights.
These are the four traditional mobiles used in Montessori education, but don’t feel that these are the final word in mobiles. It’s ok to use something else as long as you keep these guiding principles in mind.
- Select simple, beautiful mobiles.
- These are visual mobiles, not tactile. It’s ok if they’re delicate because they will be out of the child’s reach.
- Avoid mobiles that require batteries- ones that make noise, sing songs, or move from a motor.
- Geometric shapes and real things that fly are excellent subject themes. I especially like butterflies and birds. Avoid cartoons.
- I used this mobile hanger to hang butterflies from another mobile I made.
- Bright colors are ideal, but only use a few elements so that the mobile isn’t overstimulating.
- Make sure the mobile is attractive from the child’s point of view! Look at the mobile from below.