How many classroom showcase posts have I written now? We’re still going strong in our little school on the bottom floor of our home. This past week was our first week back, and it was so fantastic. For most of the children, this is our third school year together and I can’t even find the words to describe how amazing it is to see the same bunch of children at four and five that we got things going with when most of them were two and a half. They know what’s expected of them, they are really coming to feel like they own the classroom and the materials, and they have quite a repertoire of extension activities up their sleeves, too. I have seen a lot of the blindfold in these first five days, which the children are challenging one another with in the Sensorial area.
Anyway, the classroom: since we had a nice long summer, extended by a couple of weeks because of the birth of our chubby, cuddly, beautiful Nora, we took some time to make a few big improvements to our space before the new school year. It’s finally almost exactly as I’d like it, minus a couple of new tables and hopefully a new ceiling, one day. I’m so in love that I just have to share it with you. Now.
There are some affiliate links in this post, by the way. If you happen to see something you want to add to your own environment, purchasing it using one of my links gives me a small commission at no cost to you, and allows me to further improve our classroom – a win, win!
The entry. The cubby shelf, from Hello Wood, is where the children store their slippers outside of class time, and their outdoor shoes during class time. The clothing rack, from Magic Cabin is where everyone hangs their coats and the two lower shelves, designed to be storage for shoes and such, is where I keep the bins we use as cubbies for the children’s belongings. Sorry for the pixelated parts – everyone has their picture on their cubby and I’m always hesitant to share pictures of other’s kids online. If you looked closely at my last classroom tour, you might have noticed that the wall behind the cubby shelf used to be old wood paneling, as did the entire length of the classroom on this side. Part of the summer improvements involved replacing that old paneling, painting, and adding new trim. It’s so fresh and clean, and I do not miss that paneling one bit!
This is one of the big changes I made to our space. Previously, there was a closet here, under the stairs which are right in the center of the room. Not only was it ugly (wood paneling), but it obstructed my view of half the classroom much of the time, and it kept the practical life area from getting any natural light, since our windows are all on the opposite side of the stairs. I had the closet ripped out and we turned the resulting space into our reading corner. The slanting ceiling the stairs make it very cozy and nook-like. On the other side of the bookshelf, the lighting didn’t make for a decent picture, but the ceiling gets very low, so I tucked a zafu cushion and a finger labyrinth into that little space to create a spot for quiet, peaceful retreat. It has been quite popular!
The Bells! I was able to take a four day Montessori Music workshop this summer that was so, so rich (I have a post in drafts about that) and it left me so very eager to get my hands on the bells. Fortunately I had ordered them in advance of the workshop and all that was left was to find a place to put them in classroom. Prior to the workshop, I mistakenly thought that any old shelf would do. In the process of becoming intimately acquainted with this incredible material, however, I learned that there’s a reason they make special bell cabinets, and I was quite frustrated with myself, since I absolutely had not budgeted for one. Very fortunately for me, I found a former Montessori student in my neighborhood who was excited enough about building one for me that she offered to do it for cost. I took measurements of an old Nienhuis cabinet, from before they started offering the same, less-than-ideal one for the bells that they use for the tone bars, and I took note of some practical changes Marcia, who taught the workshop, suggested to create the ideal cabinet. It is deep enough for the control bells in back and the working bells in front with space for an additional row of bells when a child is grading or pairing. The backstop is higher than the Nienhuis design to allow the bell boards to sit up, where they aren’t obstructed by the bells themselves. I love it!
I added a mini fridge to the Practical Life area and it has opened up so many possibilities for food preparation, giving the children more control in setting up snack. There was a lot of food prep we didn’t do last year because I didn’t want to keep items out of the refrigerator throughout a whole work period. Now we can do anything!
My favorite improvement to the space itself is our new floors, and I love how they look in the bathroom! We replaced, or rather my dad, brother, and husband spent ten hours installing with no help from me whatsoever (I did make them a lasagna while they were doing it!), the old classroom flooring. When we moved in, the whole room was carpet, which is far from ideal, of course. Then, there was a flood and the carpet was ruined, so we spent some time working on bare tile. It was old and far from beautiful, with some of the tiles mismatched. We used floating vinyl planks to put a new floor on top of the old tile, which is probably forever bonded to the subfloor. It looks beautiful and has been so easy to clean. I have also appreciated that it’s not at all slippery – especially since mopping has been a favorite work since our return to school!
Science and Culture back up to the reading nook.
Some views of the carpeted area. I used Flor tiles so that we can easily wash or replace a portion of the carpet if we ever need to. They don’t look super special in these pictures, but I think they’re quite beautiful.
I switched to a wall mounted easel to open up some floor space. Loving that so far! This is actually the easel attachment from my kids’ Learning Tower, which we almost never used on the tower. Fortunately it came with an attachment for wall mounting is will come in quite handy here in the classroom.
I’m really happy with this configuration of the Sensorial materials. It opens up the side of the room where floor work tends to happen, and some neat connections have been made between various things this week – perhaps because all of the materials are right together like this? I’m not feeling like the far right corner in this picture is getting good use, though. It’s sort of in the entryway but not part of it, so I’m thinking it would be a great place for some care of self. I’m on the hunt for a perfect little table to set some hand washing, combing, or the like on. We’ll see what I find!
There’s a quick look at our space for you! Once we get into a groove I’m hoping to share more with you about our adventures. If you have a learning space you’d like to share with me, I’d love to see it!