We had such a spectacular time with our Montessori community program last year, but the set-up in our old house meant we had no dining room, and materials had taken over our kitchen, too. It was well worth it, but it was hard to separate family life from the rest, and we wanted something a bit different, both for our own comfort, and for the protection of a special prepared environment. There’s something truly magical about an environment designed specifically for and dedicated to the children.
So what was next? Why, house shopping, of course! We loved our rental home, and we loved our community, so we called up our neighborhood’s favorite realtor and set about looking at everything for sale in town. I was discouraged at first – there was very little on the market in our small community, and nothing we saw felt quite right. Just when I was about to give up, our agent told us about a house she was about to list that she was sure was absolutely perfect for us. She talked with the sellers, and they agreed to let us in before it officially hit the market, and by the time it was listed as for sale, we had it under contract! It truly was, and is perfect. It was meticulously cared for by a lovely retired couple that showed us so much kindness, and it had a perfect space – inside and outside – for a prepared learning environment that we can close the door to at the end of the school day. Aside from a few emergency escape plans on the walls and such, when you’re in the living space, there’s hardly a clue that our home is also a Children’s House. Every time I walk into the classroom, I’m even happier than I was the last time. I LOVE that space, and I love having tuition checks coming in so that I can continually improve it, too ;)
Enough chatting, though. Let’s take a look, shall we?
This is the entryway, where children hang up their coats, take out their slippers, and put away their outside shoes. The corkboard at adult height is for required notices, volunteer opportunities and such. The green cubbies actually have children’s names and photos on them, but I didn’t want to show even tiny pictures of other people’s children, so you get butterflies. The white shelf beside the coat rack/cubby shelf houses the sign in sheet and my parent lending library. I have all my books on Montessori and parenting available for parents to borrow. The one I recommend all new families read is the wonderful Parents Guide to the Montessori Classroom.
Right near the entry is the reading corner. I think I’d like to get some big cushions for this area, but I’m having a hard time finding something that is washable and not too laced with chemicals. Keeping my eyes peeled! The basket usually has 6-8 books that are in line with what the children are working on.
This is a bit of an odd place for the easel, but I wanted it near the water source and also in a place where the artist could look out the window while creating if he/she desired. This works, and is really just opposite the art area. Since the classroom is carpeted, I have a faux wood chair mat from an office store underneath to make for easy cleaning of drips.
From the easel, you can see the art shelf against the wall, as well as the small amount of cultural and geography work we have out at the moment. I have a big box of materials coming my way, and I am so excited to add to this area when it arrives :) Around the corner is the Practical Life area, which you’ll see shortly.
I love this little bathroom. It’s the one part of this space that we had completed after we bought the house. The rest was existing and, while not my ideal for the classroom, functional, so it stays for now. This? This makes me happy. Everyone who sees it wants to know where one can buy such petite fixtures, so I may as well link for you: the toilet and the sink base and top are both amazon purchases, and were easily installed by a regular plumber. So far I have no complaints about either piece. The sink drains a bit slowly, but that probably has more to do with the faucet and stopper that were purchased separately than the fixture itself.
With our limited storage space, I wasn’t sure where I’d keep everyone’s spare clothes, but I had a lightbulb moment at the store and picked up one of these. There’s a spare set for each child, plus plastic bags and notes home to tell parents what items they need to send replacements for.
The dishwashing stand usually has a compost bin for scraps, two basins, a drying rack, and a laundry basket underneath. My time for taking photos is while the dishwasher is running and the laundry is going, however, so this is all in separate spots. I’ll have to add a photo later with the complete set-up.
The practical life area is in transition somewhat, as I just got our first proper Montessori shelves in. I didn’t really need more storage space here yet, but I did plan to use the new shelves as a partition to define my toddler, Elliot’s space within the environment. I’m trying to decide whether I should just go crazy with Practical Life exercises and fill this shelf up with more, or move some of the white shelves to another area to add storage where its needed. I’m getting a feel for how things flow as they are now and will readjust soon. I’m not a big fan of the plastic gate either, and hope to replace that with a mirror panel soon, but for now, this works.
This is Elliot’s “office,” with his little table hiding in the corner. (For new readers: Elliot is my toddler son, who is with us during our classes for 3-6 year olds.) He doesn’t love it in this area quite as much as I do, but he’s usually content to work independently long enough for me to focus on observing for a time and give a few lessons. I’m hoping that by this time next year we’ll be able to fully integrate him into the classroom.
On this side of the room are our Sensorial, math, and language shelves. This is where the rug work happens, and where we meet for group time. We still have a relatively small number of math and language materials for our young group, but everyone is nearing readiness, and we have even had some older children join us, so I have more on the way and think I’ll soon replace these shelves with more like the empty one in the Practical Life area as they hold so much more within the reach of the children.
The yard is not at its prettiest right now, but there’s plenty of space for the children to run and explore outdoors as well.
It’s not perfect, by any means, but this is our space and it is working wonderfully so far. I’m hoping to replace the flooring, wood paneling, and drop ceiling sometime before the start of next school year as I think those changes would make the classroom so much warmer and more beautiful, but right now I’m focusing on gratitude for where we are. I love our environment, I love working from home, and I love watching my children grow and learn. I am so very fortunate!
I’d be thrilled to hear your feedback. Do you have any ideas for improving our space? Links to a tour of your own space? Thoughts or questions on what you see here? I’d love to start a conversation!
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