Before circumstances forced me to move out of state last month, I ran a small Montessori-inspired preschool in my home, Montessori Minds. It isn't easy starting a preschool and being the sole owner, advertiser, environment, handbook and contract creator, researcher, bookkeeper, teacher, shopper, janitor etc, but it was my dream long ago to have my own school, and even though I only ran the school for six months, it was worth it! I loved what I did, the children truly enjoyed coming to school, and parents (who soon became my closest friends in the area), were thrilled. I miss it and the children (some shown here with permission) terribly, but seeing that the first post on our Montessori home over year ago is still so popular, I am happy to show and perhaps inspire my readers with this environment as well.
I regret the quality of the photos. I was only able to utilize my phone during this time.
These were our Montessori and Montessori-inspired work shelves. From left to right: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics and Literacy. Work rugs were in a bin on the left and a work table to the right. I handmade the number wall cards with cardstock. I purposely made the odd and even numbers different colors and graduated the shades.
It amazed me how quickly the children often remembered to work on a rug and return materials to the shelf, and were truly delighted in remembering to do so. This photo was from just the first couple weeks when they were getting the hang of it after several demonstrations (the room configuration was different here as well). Kids love when everything has it's place. Great confidence builder!
Left to Right: Tomas the cat (beloved class pet!), Building/block area with lots of room to build and carefully selected materials (think Wedgits, Twig blocks, unit blocks), Music Center, Games and Puzzles shelves. There were boards the children could lay on the carpet to make building easier and less frustrating.
Montessori-inspired works, activities and toys that children lacked an interest with were rotated out frequently and replaced with other items. Shopping daycare closing sales and consignment stores allowed me to keep a large closet full of wooden, quality items cheaply!
Another view of our music, games and puzzles area as well as our Calendar (wipe off version), Weather Center (cards and board free here from Montessori Print Shop), and chalkboard. Not pictured was a large corkboard with clothespins glued to it for children to display their artwork. Inside the closet they kept their coats, shoes, and each had a large, labeled drawer at their level where they could easily access their own clothes, bedding etc.
This room (traditionally the dining room) was for (from left to right) our Art Center, Writing and Pretend Play. Our cultural box from Japan sat on the bottom of the art shelves and a world and USA map hung from the walls along with laminated photos of people from all over the world (created easily in this post). The table was used for free art, offered art and science projects, as well as snack and pretend play.
Lots of space to spread out and explore our Japan Box.
This was our reading area, with plenty of books with on array of topics and favorite authors, including easy readers, seasonal books and library books that covered each child's current interests.
They loved sitting in the cozy chair solo or together, reading to each other or each engrossed in their own book. A child-sized rocker was available, but who can resist an overstuffed chair? I certainly can't!
Sidenote: I loved that the entire school was visible to me from anywhere I was, including when in the kitchen. This was a townhome that really worked out for the purpose of a small school! In case you're curious, we used on of the bedrooms (upstairs) as a media room with the television, couch etc. Utilizing your living room as a play space may work if you feel you need space and are willing to be a bit non-traditional.
Our outdoor area was just as important as indoors. We utilized a sandbox, water table, trikes and bikes, slide, balls of all sorts, ball hockey equipment, bowling, baseball, monster stompers, golf etc and as you can see, we did messy play like shaving cream and painting (with feet) outdoors in the summer!
My crew often went on bike rides or walks around the neighborhood and into the woods to explore, discovering all sorts of bugs and claw marks from bears on the trees. We were playing out back one day when we heard construction vehicles and went on a walk to investigate (shown above). We were often finding different kinds of workers around the neighborhood to excitedly observe. There are plenty of learning experiences that you can't simulate in a classroom or even with books!
We often brought our work table outdoors for snack during our summer session. Nothing like relaxing with the sound of birds and scampering of squirrels in the fresh air while you enjoy a healthy nibble!
We also utilized a large field with a hill nearby where the children simply ran, raced each other, played games like duck-duck-goose, and they were exceptionally good at finding caterpillars, as shown here.They were a sweet group who truly loved creatures big and small.
Until perhaps another day and place in my life, goodbye Montessori Minds. It's an absolute thrill to do what you love!
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