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 ;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!