What a busy semester it has been! I had tons of fun setting up our community classroom in January, and thanks to a bit of water damage, I got to set it up all over again at our house a couple of weeks ago. There’s something extra special about being at home that I never really anticipated. I tend to be an introvert and very big on having my own space, and the husband and Annabelle are the same, so I never even dreamed of having class here, but it’s actually working wonderfully. We still have our afternoons for recovery through quiet and alone time, so the balance is not too hard to maintain.
Anyway, I wanted to show you all what the classroom in our home looks like. The area that houses most of the shelves, and that we use for work at rugs, group time, and the like, is what was our dining room. Fortunately springtime is our favorite time for picnic table dining, so we were happy to move our dining table into the garage temporarily. I’ll share about the kitchen area of the classroom, where most of the practical life and art work is kept, in another post.
Here’s the room from one doorway. There are no actual doors on the dining room, but one doorway on either side. On the side where I’m standing here, I’ve placed a tension rod along the top of the doorway and attached a floor-length curtain to separate the room from the rest of our home. This way it truly does feel like a space just for the children. It also minimizes distractions, since parents are often lounging in the living room, on the other side of the doorway.
This photo was taken from the second doorway, which goes right into the kitchen. The children are free to move from work in this area to work in the kitchen, and just to the left of where I’m standing for this shot is our reading corner and our restroom, which are both used as part of the classroom space.
Here are more photos from the doorway, to give a better view of each side of the room. To the left is our Sensorial work, in the center is culture and geography, and the top photo shows math and language, with the dressing frames just to the side of the doorway into the kitchen where the rest of the Practical Life work is found.
Here on the top shelf are the Touch Boards, also known as the Rough and Smooth Boards, and the Touch Tablets (or Rough and Smooth Tablets) are in the box at right. In the fall, we will add the Fabric Boxes and the Thermic and Baric Tablets as well.
Here you see Color Box 1, Color Box 2, and an extension made by me, where small objects are matched to rectangles of craft foam in all of the same colors you find in Color Box 2. Color Box 3 will come out in the fall.
Here you see the Geometric Solids, with the basket for carrying them to the rug, and the cards that go with them tucked away behind the basket. I was disappointed to find that Gonzagarredi does not make wooden bases for their solids, and the Nienhuis bases do not fit the Gonzagarredi solids. If anyone needs a set of wooden Nienhuis bases with box, just let me know ;) I’m hoping Gonzagarredi will make them in the future. I asked!
Here is the next shelf in our Sensorial area. Between the previous shelf and this one is our rug basket. The basket itself is from Target. I opted to get that instead of a special rug shelf simply to save money, but I recommend the shelves specifically designed for rugs, or something that allows you to lay the rolled rugs flat. They tend, even when nicely rolled, to slump down into this basket unless the children place them at the perfect angle.
To the left of the shelf, you see the Pink Tower on its stand. On the top of this shelf is a Peace Lily and our puppets, which I occasionally bring to group time to use as we talk over and process different things that happen. The next shelf is home to the Brown Stair, and below it are the first two Knobbed Cylinder blocks with the corresponding Knobless Cylinders. We recently added in the pattern cards for the yellow cylinders (Box 1), and I printed them from Montessori Print Shop. I have some I got from another teacher way back when I was making my albums, but these are so much nicer, since back then little was digitized. Now I have digital copies I can use to print from any time, and everything comes out perfectly centered.
Next we have the Geometric Cabinet, with the Geometric Presentation Tray on Top. I’ve used an old wooden stool as a stand for this since our shelves are inexpensive ones from Target, and I worried they would not hold this heavy piece. Eventually, I’d love to get us some higher quality shelves, but for now these work well. Around the corner is the last Sensorial shelf, with the Red Rods on top, the third and fourth cylinder blocks and boxes on the next two shelves, and the Sound Cylinders and Constructive Triangle Box 1 on the bottom. We have a number of other Sensorial works that will come out in the fall, but these materials are perfect for our young group right now.
This shelf has a lot of transitional materials that sort of flow into the Cultural Area. They could all be classified in a number of different areas, but I have them here for a few different reasons. On top is a hardwood triangle stacker from Camden Rose, a basket containing the Plan Toys Nuts and Bolts, and the Guidecraft Geo Forms Sorting Puzzle. The next shelf has the Deep Into the Forest Game, and a basket with Schleich baby farm animals and Three Part Cards for Sorting. The bottom shelf has yoga cards that I made using a discarded copy of Little Yoga. On the front of each card is a photo of a child demonstrating a pose, and the name of each pose is written on the back. Next up is a tray with a little music box and a coconut kalimba that we purchased at the Micronesian Cultural Fair on Guam. I have a fancier music box that I play to let the children know when it’s time to start putting away their work and come to group time, so there’s a great deal of interest in them, which is why I’ve placed one here. Eventually I’d love to invest in the Montessori Bells, but for now I simply put one or two instruments out at a time for the children to explore.
Here is the map cabinet. To the left, you can see one more transitional material, a set of simple wooden blocks. On top of the cabinet, we have the Sandpaper Globe and the Continent Globe, and in between the two is our Land, Water, and Air Jars. The only map in the cabinet right now is the World Map, but as we get deeper into geography work next year, we will add more. On the bottom are some relevant books, such as our Children’s Atlas, and the Land, Water, and Air Cards. We also have a basket with a large and small duster for taking care of the map and other materials. Also as we get deeper into geography, I’ll add some continent folders and boxes here, along with landforms, and much more.
At the end of this wall are the math and language shelves. These areas are small now, as Practical Life and Sensorial are the main focus for our mostly three year olds, but many more materials will be added in the Fall and next Spring.
Not pictured clearly, at the top of this shelf, are the Number Rods, Here you can see our Pattern Blocks and Balance Scale. The next shelf has the Sandpaper Numerals, Number cards, and the spindles for the Spindle Boxes, which you see just below. To the left of the Spindle Boxes is the book Montessori Number Work.
Apologies for the shadows on this one. Right now we have primarily pre-language for our young set, but at the top you can see a tray with a basket of various clothing items and dolls for dressing. This is really not a specifically Montessori work, but I find it’s valuable for building vocabulary and facilitating conversations with children, so I consider it to be a valuable addition to our pre-language materials. On the next shelf is our I Spy basket, which you can see more detailed photos of in this post about language objects, and a felt board with pieces the children can use to do a fingerplay we’ve enjoyed at group time. On the bottom, you can see Montessori Letter Work, and our Sandpaper Letters.
Around the corner is our Metal Inset Shelf, with tray, pencils, and paper on top, and insets below. Beside it we keep one plant on the floor, not only because it looks nice here, but because the children can access it easily and borrow a bit of its soil for the Land, Water, and Air Jars.
Here you can see the Dressing Frames shelf, with just the first 5 frames for now, and the doorway into the kitchen. More on that area soon!
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