A unique take on a traditional 'stacking' toy.
Most parents and educators will be familiar with the concept of a stacking toy. These tools are designed to promote hand-eye coordination as the child attempts to align the cavity with the dowel rod. Many incarnations of the stacking toy exist but this is one of my favourites! It is such a cute design and in our "Nido" (Montessori Playgroup) environment we find that children are drawn towards it much more than some of our more traditional stacking toys.
A young child can focus first on the motor control of simply threading the "branches" onto the dowel. As mastery is gained the lesson can be extended by focusing on threading the branches in a particular order to create a defined pattern (as illustrated in the photographs).
This design also provides inspiration to start considering and discussing concepts such as shades and length. A child could be encouraged to stack the tree from "darkest" to "lightest" or from "longest" to "shortest" (or vice versa!).
The base of the 'trunk' of the stacking tree is slightly rounded. This allows the tree to rock slightly, rather than staying completely static. For older children this provides another level of challenge - I have observed a pair of four-year-olds inventing a "tricky game" (as they called it!) where one of them would rock the tree to set it in motion and the partner would have to try to align the branches to the dowel while it was still wobbling! This game caused great delight and it was wonderful to watch the cognitive and physical processes that were involved in judging and anticipating the movement of the tree to accurately place the pieces!