Before the mass of photos that are to come, here are the basics of creating a Montessori home:
Childproofing everything so that the child doesn't frequently hear "no". This allows the child freedom and confidence to explore the environment and his world without fear of being scolded. I honestly can't think of anything that at this point that we'd have to tell Tyler not to do other than a few things he enjoys climbing that we'd rather he not..
Make the child's materials and toys easy to access and reach. We've done this with several $15 bookshelves from Walmart. Baskets and trays for these items are also key. Keeping these items in the same place at all times is also important so that the child knows where to find and put away his things. Even when rotating toys, as I do often, I put them in the same center, shelf and area on the shelf. Art work should also be at a child's eye-level, their own and that of the great masters. Currently I have several photos from National Geographic or calendars that I've laminated and hung.
Provide adult materials at a children's size for the child to use and imitate you with. Gaining skills and independence in home-life is of utmost importance with Montessori, and is a whole blog in itself!
When old enough, children should put away one toy/material before using another. I feel at 17 months old Tyler is ready to start. Up until this point, resetting the toys constantly is important. If a room is cluttered with toys, it is difficult for a child to feel organized himself and to find what he needs. Children also watch us carefully and learn to put away toys on their own, which we've also found Tyler to do at times.
The child's environment should be organized, clean and beautiful. The areas shouldn't be cluttered with too many toys, as this is overwhelming to the child and rather than choosing something, they may simply walk away.
Our Living and Dining Room
This is Tyler's pretend play center. As Maria Montessori didn't believe in pretend play until a child had a firm grasp on reality, this is where our Waldorf inspiration has come into play. Some modern Montessorians believe in pretend play and some do not. We have decided that it's important.
This is the building and block center. The area is out of the way with plenty of space for building giant towers and sprawling cities that won't get knocked over by heavy traffic.
As we don't allow the television to be on in our home when Tyler is awake, this area has become a music listening center that Tyler greatly enjoys. We play music through the television/Playstation and Tyler is quite adept at using it himself. He enjoys sitting in his child-sized rocking chair to listen. There's also a container of teething toys available to him in the cabinet, as this seems a prime time to chew, as well as photo albums made for Tyler to look through.
Our family is big on going to the library for story time and to check out books. This small basket next to our books is for Tyler's own library books.
Though most of Tyler's books are kept in his quiet room, some of the larger and favorite books are kept in a basket next to the couch. This makes it easy to snuggle on the couch and read when we're in the living room.
Large Motor Room
This room serves as a safe place for Tyler to use his large muscles and is especially great on rainy days. I've also turned it into a multi-cultural room with photos of people from many different cultures as well as world maps. Though it may seem early for maps at this age, Montessori believed that just becoming familiar with the shapes of the continents could be important. Tyler can often be found on his climber staring at the world map or up close looking and smiling at people from around the world and enjoys hearing me talk about the cultures and pointing out areas on the maps.
We took one door off of this closet to allow extra space to play. We left one door on to perhaps give him a private space to hang out and hide as he gets older.
Tent, tunnel and more maps.
Some of the cultural photos up-close. Now that I own a laminator, I will laminate these to keep them protected from little exploring hands!
The closet shelves in this room are where I keep my supplies. I am constantly attempting to organize them, yet every week I seem to add something and the task seems impossible. Perhaps public shame will move me to do something about this eye-sore!
We don't use the eat-in area of our kitchen, which has allowed an area for Tyler's manipulatives/snack table. The shelf next to it contains table toys and a couple books that have somehow always stayed in the kitchen. I keep paper taped to the table with a few crayons at all times. When Ty is a bit older, a smock and drawing and art materials will be set on one of the shelves for access at any time he feels the urge to create.
A closer look at the table toys that are in rotation at the moment
Child-sized brooms are available for Tyler to sweep up his messes and to help us when we're doing the same. I also have a mop and duster which will join the brooms soon.
Several of the drawers have been given to Tyler for his use. One drawer contains bibs that Tyler chooses from before meals. We also have a cabinet that contains empty food boxes, tubs and spice jars for Tyler to play with and stack that isn't pictured. Cooking meals in our home isn't often an issue, as there's plenty for Ty to busy himself with if he wishes to be close to us at that time.
Tyler's Bedroom / The Quiet Room
As Tyler sleeps with us at this point, his room has become a space for quiet activities. One center contains smaller motor toys and at the moment, plenty of shape toys, which has been an interest of Ty's for quite some time. When Tyler chooses to sleep on his own, the mattress here will serve as his bed, built upon the "low-bed" theory of Montessori.
The other side of the room contains a book shelf and a mattress for comfortable reading. Pillows, cushions or a bean bag could also make a cozy spot for a child to read. Favorite books are displayed with other favorites that are out of rotation in easy access for switching on top. Other books are stored away out of sight in a closet.
Tyler's diaper changing area. Tyler always has a choice between two characters for his diapers, which excites him and makes diaper changing less stressful. He also enjoys looking at the different types of architecture displayed on the wall.
Tyler's bottom dresser drawer contains two outfits for him to choose from every morning.
Though I'm happy with our home at the moment, there are areas and aspects which I naturally wish to change and add as Tyler becomes older. In the near future I'm hoping to add a low coat hook, a hand washing and teeth brushing station, a snack cupboard where he can choose his own snacks, cups and plates, as well as, as mentioned above, an area where his own cleaning supplies are kept.