Welcome to Our Classroom

I finally snatched some photos today! There really is not great natural light in our classroom and I’m not the best photographer, so I don’t love how the pictures turned out, but hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing them. I have a post scheduled for a week from Monday where I’ll explain how we set up and structured our program, so if you’re curious about that or interested in doing something similar, you can watch for that. It really wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign up to follow by email, or maybe like us on facebook so you don’t miss the good stuff ;)

DSC_0524 (600x407)

This is a photo taken from the entryway, showing our kitchen area, with the Practical Life and Art Shelves straight ahead. The empty shelf at left is where snack is set up during class, but since this was after class had finished, snack had been put away, and our dishes and pitcher sent home with one of the families to be sanitized.

DSC_0522 (600x402)

Looking to the left from the entryway is the carpeted area of the classroom, with the Cultural shelves all the way to the left, Sensorial in and to either side of the corner, and Math and Language along the wall on the right. We were just getting ready to leave, so I had my diaper bag and Ergo in the middle of the room following a diaper change :) Baby Elliot was in my arms, which is part of the reason these are not the best photos.

DSC_0528 (600x347)

The room came pre-decorated, as one of the moms from our group is a muralist. She painted this sweet forest mural just for the children, and put Annabelle’s and her son’s initials in a heart on the tree. (I almost died when I caught on to that detail). The little red shelf is designed to cover the radiator, for safety reasons, of course. It also serves as a great place to keep the infant materials for Elliot and two other infants whose moms help in the classroom. All three of us have boys who are nearly the same age. You can also see the reading corner, with the amazing bookshelf that, should we ever need it, doubles as an emergency exit.

DSC_0526 (600x402)

Here’s a view of the kitchen from the carpeted area. Space is at a premium in here, but we’ve managed to make things fit pretty nicely, I think. I’m in the market for a better stool to help the children feel more comfortable at the kitchen sink. If we were going to be in this space permanently, I’d look into converting it, but unfortunately that’s not a practical choice. Underneath the easel is our art drying rack, and against the wall is the dish washing stand.

DSC_0525 (600x353)

This is what you get when one of your students’ moms is a carpenter! After each class, a parent takes the dishes home to be sanitized, and uses one of the basins to carry them, so this is not the complete set-up, but isn’t it grand? Aprons are to the left and on the table itself we typically keep a compost bowl and a scrubber for the dishes, with a hand drying towel hanging on the wall at right. Because space is so hard to come by, the wastebasket and laundry basket live down below.

DSC_0530 (600x486)

Here is the cultural area, plus the first Sensorial shelf. When I set up the classroom, I found that the shelves our hostess had so kindly collected were not quite wide enough for the world map, so I’m waiting on the arrival of a map cabinet for that, which will go beside this shelf. I am working on finishing up some continent folders for us, which will go on the paper tray on the bottom shelf. I took out some of the Sensorial materials to make space for some simple wooden items that children can use in this transitional period when not many lessons have been given. Originally I had the Baric Tablets, Thermic Tablets, and Color Box 3 here as well, but those will come out again later. It’s interesting trying to juggle the needs of the children right now and the need for adequate space for the materials, but we had a wonderful day today, so I think we’re getting there! Right now, the top shelf houses the Touch (aka Rough and Smooth) Boards and Tablets and the middle shelf has Color Boxes 1 and 2, as well as a basket with blindfolds for Sensorial activities.

DSC_0531 (600x402)

Here you can see the rest of the Sensorial shelves, and a bit of the math shelf, which currently houses some traditional puzzles as a transitional material. The corner shelf holds the Knobbed Cylinders on top, with the Knobless Cylinders on the next shelf. Below those are the Constructive Triangles. I’d like to have those to the right of the Geometric Cabinet, instead of vice versa, but it doesn’t fit there! The third Sensorial Shelf holds what fits well there, which is the Red Rods, the Broad Stair, and on the bottom the Geometric Cabinet and the Geometric Solids. I also have a Binomial Cube, which will come out later on. Right now, the only Montessori math materials I have are the Number Rods, the cards to go with them, the Sandpaper Numerals, and the Spindle Boxes. As the children get older and show readiness, I’ll purchase more, and some or all of the puzzles will be put away to make room. I did not get a good straight on photo of the Math shelf, unfortunately.

DSC_0532 (600x498)

Here is our language shelf, with the top dedicated to the metal insets, a couple of transitional items on the next shelf, along with the I Spy basket and the book Montessori Letter Work. I absolutely love having Letter Work and Number Work in the classroom, since the Sandpaper Numerals and Letters tend to be so tempting for children. I don’t want to formally introduce them too early, so the books are a great thing to direct children to explore instead. They’re also a great tool for informally assessing what children already know, which provides great information for future lessons. On the bottom shelf, of course, are the Sandpaper Letters and Large Moveable Alphabet. In the coming months, the transitional materials will be replaced with language boxes.

DSC_0533 (600x402)

Here’s one view of the kitchen shelves. The first is home to the snack and snack dishes as well as items needed for care of the environment: towels for cleaning up spills, a spray bottle of soapy water for a first exercise in table washing, a crumb sweeper for the table, and a sweeper and dustpan for the floor. The middle shelf contains transfer and pouring exercises and on the bottom are threading and opening and closing. The last shelf here contains art exercises, and beside it is the easel and drying rack.

DSC_0520 (600x406)

Here, Annabelle gives you a slightly better view. I have individual photos of the Practical Life and art activities, which I just switched out to match the Valentine’s Day theme, so those are coming in a separate post. One thing that unfortunately is not out yet is our Dressing Frames. I ordered the five that I like to introduce first, but our special shelf for them has not arrived and they do not fit well on these shelves. Hopefully next week! We also have a children’s broom and a snow shovel, which are located in the hallway.

And that’s it! The outdoor space is a family’s back yard and they just had a very, very large oak tree removed because it had reached the end of its life, so that space is a work in progress. We’re settling in slowly, but surely!

18 thoughts on “Welcome to Our Classroom

  1. Aubrey

    Melissa!! What a calm and beautiful space you created! Setting up a classroom is such a thrilling feeling, isn’t it? The empty shelves, evaluating over and over what you need, fidgeting with placement until you get it just right… This is probably one of the things about teaching Montessori I love the best – the preparation and thought behind the environment. LOVE. So glad to know you!

    1. melissa Post author

      That means so much from a fellow Montessori teacher/mom, especially. Thanks, Aubrey. I’m glad to know you, too, and totally agree on how enjoyable it is to set up and refine a new environment.

  2. Discovering Montessori

    I love it! I really wished I had some carpenter skills the table looks great. The way you set it up is so inviting. You can tell you put your heart and soul into it! LOVE that Annabelle’s initials are painted on a heart. Let the legacy continue! I wish so bad that I lived by you.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. melissa Post author

      The things we could do if we were also trained as woodworkers, right? I wish I were more skilled in that area, but for now I’m so thrilled to have the help and support of someone who is! It would be amazing if we lived near one another. The inspiration I’d get from the change to spend a little time in the same room with you would be amazing!

  3. Rachel

    I love this! Thank you for sharing! I really hope that someday I have my own Montessori/Reggio-inspired preschool. So lovely to watch your dream come to fruition.

    I love the sweet bench in the reading corner and would love to see more detail on your shelves. Such a gorgeous and well thought out environment :)

    1. melissa Post author

      Thank you so much, Rachel! If you do open that preschool one day, I hope you’ll share your excitement with me. I’d love to see! :) I’ll definitely be sharing more and more from our shelves in the weeks and months to come.

  4. Niki

    You classroom is beautiful Melissa! I am so happy and excited for you! I am also excited to learn from you! Love you! :)

    1. melissa Post author

      I’m excited to learn from you, too, Niki! I’m honored to be able to follow along with your journey, and to be able to call you friend. Love you, too! xoxo

  5. Amy G

    Wonderful! So glad to see everything coming together. I love that it seems the community has really come together to contribute to the project!

  6. Annicles

    What a lovely classroom. I am sure that taking it slowly to begin with will benefit you and them children in the long run. I have just been learning how important the sensorial materials are right through to 7, or even older if the child has not had the experience of Montessori from nursery age. Your classroom looks inspiring for the children and satisfying for you!

  7. courtney

    It looks FABULOUS! Love that mural. You’ve done such a great job making an inviting, playful, organized, utilitarian place for children to play and learn within your space confines. Congrats!

  8. Rach

    It is beautiful. So inviting and so much heart and soul init. Love the fact so many people have shared this dream with you and contributed, and how your efforts have built this community. It’s the most important thing for families, and lacking for so many. You made it happen! Amazed at your energy. Love it and so wish I could send B there and help out! Congrats!

  9. MJ

    Catching up in your space and I am so floored by how much your babes have grown, how much change you have flowed through. And this space!! I am so impressed Melissa!! It is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations my friend….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge