Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Montessori Makeover: My Classroom (part 1)

I've been spending about one morning a week for the past month at my preschool preparing for the new Montessori-based curriculum this fall.  This means rearranging the furniture and a LOT of just putting stuff away in closets, cupboards, etc.  It's really difficult to find places to go with so much stuff that has been out on the shelves for the past 6 years.  But, I'm really trying to embrace the clutter-free, less-is-more Montessori philosophy. 

I got a lot done this morning in the classroom!  My storage closet, which is in another room of the church where my preschool is located, is completely full -- only leaving room to walk in and out.  Although, I must say, even though it is full, it is neat and organized!  All of my cupboards in the classroom are full -- including the cupboard I've designated for Montessori material storage.

Here's a picture of my Montessori materials storage cupboard.  My phone camera lens must need to be cleaned, because all of the pictures I took with it today are kind of foggy looking.

Here is a list of the Montessori materials I have so far:

* lots of baskets in many shapes and sizes
* lots of trays: glass, plastic, wicker and even some really neat seasonally shaped small glass trays (leaves, apples)
* practical life items: creamers, bowls, spoons, tongs, 2 tea sets, small items to transfer, sort, etc., hand-made dressing frames
* set of cylinder blocks
* land/water globe
*land/water map
* sand paper lower case letters
* sand paper double letters
* sand paper numbers
* red rods
* number rods with numbers
* geometric cabinet and display tray
* hand made sand paper touch tablets
* pink tower
* brown stair
* insets for design
* geometric solids with bases
* land and water form trays
* various other items that I have made myself

I still need to purchase quite a few more Montessori materials for my classroom.  But, I have what I need to get the year started. 

Like I said, a lot of what I have been doing is putting stuff away.  My initial goal is for all of my shelving units to be empty and then I will work on putting out the children's work for the beginning of the year.  In accordance with Maria Montessori, I will begin the year with mostly items that would be considered toys, and then add the Montessori materials to the shelves as I give lessons on their proper use.

I did take a few pictures of the part of my classroom that I have managed to de-clutter the most.  There is still some stuff laying around, but it is considerably better than when I left last week.

Circle Time and shelves for math materials
Circle Time, shelves for science materials, book shelf, and language materials shelf
Geography & Culture materials shelf and 2 tables for independent work
Language materials area with table for lesson presentation and work
It's difficult to tell without being in the classroom, but I moved a lot of furniture around!  Circle Time, the math shelves, the science shelves, and the geography shelves are all located where the block area used to be.  The language shelves, book shelf ,and table are now where the library used to be.  And, although not included in traditional Montessori classrooms, the block area and pretend play area have been moved to where Circle Time used to be.  I have chosen to keep these areas because I feel that dramatic play and blocks can provide children with lots of learning opportunities. 

The remainder of the room is taken up by areas for practical life, art, and sensorial work.  I will post pictures of these areas as they become more de-cluttered.  Oh, and of course, I still have the gross motor area with the slide and monkey bars located in the back of the classroom.  Since we do not have an outdoor playground, this area gets a lot of use by the children!

As you may have figured out from previous posts, I frequent thrift stores on a regular basis looking for materials I can use in my classroom.  One of the neatest finds I have had recently is a brand new, in the box, beautiful porcelain tea set!  I can't wait to put this out in the practical life area for the children to use! 

Here is a picture:


  1. This is fascinating! I'm going to love watching your makeover to Montessori! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

  2. Deb, Thanks so much for featuring my post on the Living Montessori Now fb page! This truly is an adventure for me and I am enjoying being able to share it with others interested in the Montessori Method!