Six months later I'm finally posting about my birthday present! Yes, I used my birthday money from my grandma and Tips' grandparents to purchase my first authentic Montessori material - the Knobbed Cylinders!!!! I am very happy with my purchase! I spent $100 to get all 4 Knobbed Cylinder blocks - and although they are soft wood, I realized that these will be used in my home with my children and they won't have hundreds of children using them over the years, so they should hold up just fine, even with a few dents they may accumulate over the years.
The only thing is that I had to sand some of the cylinders since they would not easily slide in and out of their designated spots - other than that, they are great!
Now some of you not familiar with Montessori may wonder what the heck Tips Jr is learning with this material - he is learning quite a bit of things! The way they are taught to hold the knobbed cylinders with their thumb and first two fingers is similar to how you are supposed to hold a pencil - so it is teaching him to correctly hold a pencil without him actually holding a pencil!
The blocks, while all the same exterior dimensions, have differing interior dimensions. IE: the one that Tips Jr is currently working with all the cylinders are the same height but differing circumferences from 1 cm to 10 cm (there are 10 cylinders in each block). Another block they are all the same circumference but differing heights. The last two blocks are differing heights AND circumferences - so where the 'largest' one is 10 cm tall and wide and the smallest is 1cm tall and wide - the other block the 10cm wide cylinder is only 1 cm tall while the 1cm wide cylinder is 10cm tall!
So Tips Jr is learning to distinguish between different sizes in both width and height.
When he has mastered all four blocks (eventually you put all four in a square, take all 40 cylinders out and then put them back in and after that is mastered you do it blindfolded relying on your fingers discerning which cylinder goes where), then we will introduce extension activities to him that use the cylinders.
It made me happy to see him get out his rug on his own and then take one of his cylinder blocks off the shelf, carry it to the rug and begin working with it on his own! Now we need to work on putting it away when he is done with it!