The kid's have their own cabinet in the kitchen. You'll find dishes and cups on the left and pitchers in the middle. The right side contains a host of child sized kitchen gadgets and silverware.
We have a child sized table setup in the eat-in area of the kitchen. Surprisingly the kids do not like to eat at it and prefer the adult sized table with booster seats. They do enjoy playing there so I set it up as a writing spot. The metal drawers hold blank paper and tracing pages. The basket hold colored pencils and magnifying glasses. Sometimes they will put paper in the basket so they can carry it around the house. The frames hold their memory verses for the week. This area was loosely inspired by Playful Learning. Our space isn't nearly as beautiful as the creations you will find there but it is still well loved.
These shelves are in our family room. Each drawer contains a Montessori inspired activity. I occasionally rotate the drawers. This isn't a strict Montessori setup but it does give the kids a chance to select work outside of the classroom if they'd like.
This counting bear set has been well loved. It came with the matching set of cups that sits on top of the drawers. They have been used for sorting, counting or even the basic fill and spill.
Another drawer contains basic lacing cards in animal shapes.
This drawer contains the Busy Bugs set. The cards are used for patterning. The bug shapes hold their interest.
I keep extra activities in a kitchen cabinet. Elora does occasionally choose an activity directly from this cabinet. The pattern blocks, sorting train and drilling board are favorites.
I have a small bench in the entry area by the garage. I store their shoes on one side. They love putting them on. I didn't take a picture of their jackets but there is child sized coat rack on the other side of the hallway.
I keep a dressing basket on the other side of the bench. Right now it contains a hat, mittens and some socks. William adores it. He regularly carried the basket round the house.
The back hallway leads to our laundry room and cleaning supply closet. I have created a cleaning shelf with child sized cleaning items. This includes a window washing set, hand broom, spill cleaning set, broom and push sweeper (simply removed one of the handle poles to shorten).
They have their own trashcan as well. The main trashcan in the kitchen has a built in child lock. Unfortunately, we've had issues with valuable items being thrown away. With this compromise they can throw way their trash but it's small enough that I can check it for things like keys or toys.
The final area we'll look at is in the upstairs hallway. I have created a visual schedule for each day of the week.
It contains the major events each day that affect the child. Although I have times listed, I'm not a stickler for schedules so this is best for understanding the order of the day. I have a a picture next to each item since neither Elora nor William could read this yet.
On the far end of the wall I broke down the bedtime routine. It has helped immensely with the process.
There are a number of areas I have not addressed here, such as bathrooms and our gross motor area. However, my goal was to focus on a few simple and easy to implement ideas. If you would to create your own Montessori spaces, here are a few tips:
- Focus on one area of the home at a time vs tackling it all at once. It will not only overwhelm you, it will overwhelm your child who finds security in the stability of the known environment.
- Star small. A simple basket with mittens, a child sized bowl and spoon on a shelf or a broom placed in the corner are enough to pique your child's interest.
- Take the time to present each addition to your child. They won't know your expectations unless you clearly outline them. Cups are fun to play with in the bathroom sink and brooms make wonderful swords.
- Watch your child to see where their interests lie and respond accordingly. William's extreme interest in the vacuum cleaner led us to purchase his own push sweeper.
- If you don't have space to add child sized furniture, look for ways to make the furniture you do have more accessible. A small step stool and booster seat can offer independence with an adult sized table. Simple hooks on the wall work as well as a coat rack.
- Don't be afraid to abandon what doesn't work for you and your children. If you noticed, I did not put food in the kid's kitchen cabinet. Initially they had access to a few items. I'll just say that it ended badly more than once.
Come back next week for part 4 as I take a somewhat humorous look at all the places we're NOT Montessori... either by choice or by force of habit!