Creating a “More-Montessori” Environment

Cubbies, shelves, bins, labels…. this is what I’m used to. At least from my preschool teaching days. So this is what I tried to do in Ryce Man’s nursery as well. I was actually in-the-process of making labels with pictures and words so it would be easier for him to put things back where they belong and be exposed to printed language around him, when I stumbled upon some Montessori articles on Pinterest.

I decided to change the way we were doing things. We have lots of good quality toys and learning materials that were hardly ever getting touched because they were tucked away in bins or put up for only “planned times”. Yes, there will be some things that will only be available with supervision (the things that can be easily torn or dangerous in some way), but I have decided to rotate toys and activities, keeping them readily available in open baskets and on trays for my little one (and his buddy, Lil G) to explore and learn.

We have a table in Ryce Man’s room, where I will supply a tray with nature items we find outside, paper for drawing and creative expression, and a holder for colored pencils and crayons.



We have a shelf with 9 square cubbies (originally from Target I believe, but we bought ours from Dirt Cheap). I will place open trays and baskets with a small number of items in each (less to clean up).
-One shelf will hold a few books (up to five at a time).
-One to two shelves will hold soft toys (either a soft toy set like our Noah’s Ark or a stuffed animal).
-The rest of the shelves will hold fine motor activities and other sets and manipulatives.
-There will be a large, open basket on the floor for a set of blocks to be available to building and construction at all times (I will rotate the sets we have.)

Here’s the first rotation of things I’ve provided…




From top left to right…
1. Drum
2. Tray with nesting cups
3. Melissa & Doug Yellow House Puzzle
4. a few books
5. Tray with Noah’s Ark soft toy set
6. Melissa & Doug Shape Sequence Sorting Set
7. A soft toy from mom’s childhood
8. basket with blue waffle blocks
9. tray with colorful beads and another beaded toy


So this is the new setup for his room, but I’d like to make a few updates as soon as we have room in the budget, and I feel he is ready for it.

Here is our wishlist (for later)…
-Low pegs or hooks for him to hang his own bag and coat when the cold weather comes (I might also use the hook to hang his clothes
for the day as he begins to dress himself.)
-A basket on the floor for him to put his most-used shoes in so he can put them away himself
-A small laundry basket or bucket for a day or two maximum of his laundry so he can easily carry it himself to the laundry room and dump
it each morning
-A dresser with smaller drawers that he can open himself
-Update his crib to the toddler bed with the side rails so he can get in and out of it himself (We probably won’t do the Montessori floor bed
with him since we do already have a crib.)
-A wooden table and set of chairs for snack and meal times
—We currently have a convertible high chair, and we are using the bottom table portion for meals and snacks with the boys. The chairs
we have are from Wal-Mart that Ryce Man got for his birthday, but the boys are more-reclined in them and can’t reach the table as
much as they really need to. They also have lots of crevices that catch and hold food particles, making them more difficult to clean. We’ll
move these chairs to his room or outside for lounging.
-A small cabinet (which I already have here actually) to hold child-size dishes and utensils. I’m going to create a Practical Life area for Ryce
Man and Lil G to prepare their own snacks and clean up after themselves, complete with a small refrigerator and everything they need
to carry out this process. (15 months is the recommended age from what I read, but they aren’t quite ready yet).

Some of these things I feel would be wasteful at this point, as the boys (Ryce Man and his buddy Lil G that comes over) haven’t learned the concept of “order” yet. The shoe baskets would get dumped, and shoes would be tasted and carried all around the room. I’m planning ahead for when I feel they are ready.



I do want to consistently practice working on various practical life skills with the boys such as drinking from an open cup, pouring with our sensory bins, so they’ll be ready to do the “real thing” when the time comes. I’m also working with Ryce Man in particular with a few chores, which we’ll call “Service Opportunities”… taking his laundry to dump, wiping his tray or table where he eats, and using the Swiffer Sweeper, which he LOVES! Many of the things on this list are things that are also on my list of goals. 

Please comment with any additional ideas you have. I would love to hear them!