The selection of physically safe and cognitively challenging objects for the play area is one of the most essential aspects of encouraging free play. There are many times that a play object can be carried throughout early childhood. The Oball, pictured below, could be adapted three ways depending on the development stage of an infant or toddler.
"Back baby" who is rolling side to side: Oball with a cloth
If infants are not yet crawling, it is important to offer objects that do not roll away from the infant when she is playing with it. For "back babies" who are not yet crawling (approximately 4 to 9 months), a cotton cloth can be pulled through the Oball's holes to provide it with some stability. This way, the infant can readily pick up the object to begin experimenting and seeing what the Oball can do whether picked up or pushed.
Mobile Infants: Solitary Oball
For infants who are crawling and able to change positions and sit independently, from approximately 10 months onwards, the ball can be a solitary object in the space without a cloth in it. The infant who can crawl while look to push it and watch it roll across the room. It becomes a game to retrieve it.
Toddlers: Oball with other balls placed in a basket
For toddlers who are walking, the Oball should be added into a basket with other balls of varying shapes and sizes. Toddlers in this developmental stage begin to to collect and organize objects in addition to manipulating them. You will see that your toddler will seek out objects of the same shape or color and want to put them somewhere like a basket. This marks the beginning of the long process of collecting, which will happen with more sophistication over the course of early childhood. More about collecting here.