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A Montessori-style home environment

Montessori Monday
Our son is now 27 months old. This post is a continuation of my previous post on the setup of our son’s bedroom. If you missed it, please click here to read more.

Just as we have set up our son’s room to make things easily accessible for him, we have included child-size furniture and other items throughout our home. Here’s a peek at some of the things we have done.


Let’s start with the kitchen. At the moment, we have a small table and chairs situated in our kitchen that serves as a snack area and work area for our son. We bought the table and chairs from an unfinished furniture store and cut the table and chair legs to make them more easily accessible for our son. The seats are about 7″ off the ground and the tabletop is about 14″ high. We have been using this set since our son was almost a year old.

table and chairsOf course, we also have toddler-size plates, silverware and glasses for him to use for eating. None of the items we use on a regular basis are plastic (we do have one plastic plate that we hardly ever use). He has silverware and a cup made from actual silver, as well as some stainless steel utensils. The plates are ceramic and the glasses are made from glass. We’ve been using all of these items since he was about a year old and in that time, he’s only broken one ceramic mug (he accidentally dropped it while he was helping me unload the dishwasher). Lately, he has taken to using his water bottles (made from stainless steel, of course) more than his glasses at meal times, so I’m considering moving up to a larger glass (we are still using shot glasses).

While I’m on the subject of eating, I should note that while I join my son at his table for breakfast, snacks and lunch, we do eat at our dining table at dinner time when my husband is home. At our table, our son sits in a HandySitt Folding Booster Chair. This allows him to sit at the table with us while we eat. It attaches to our regular dining chairs and he is able to get in and out of it by himself (although we have to strap him in). I liked it better than some of the other wooden European high chairs on the market because of its portability.

Living areas

bookcaseMoving beyond our kitchen, we have a small bookcase set up for our son where I lay out most of his toys and Montessori materials. We’ve been using this bookcase, which is turned on its side to make it accessible for our son, since he was an infant. Since space is limited, I rotate what I put out, replacing items that he hasn’t shown any interest in lately.

We also keep a mat in this area that he can unroll on the floor to designate his work area. Again, we first started using this mat when he was an infant. Its first use was under a wooden activity gym. Thus, it has always been for his “work” (his work at the beginning was batting at toys that we hung on the activity gym). I should also note that our son can and does pull out this mat and unroll it himself. He is less adept at rolling it up, although he can do so with help and he does put the mt away by himself. Although I have never given him a specific lesson on rolling his mat like he might receive at a Montessori school, I am careful to roll his mat up tightly and as straight as possible.

easelWe also have an art area for our son, which consists of a two-sided easel and a basket that holds chalk and an eraser. I leave the chalk and eraser out for him all the time so that he can draw whenever he feels like it.

The other side of the easel is a dry-erase board. I don’t trust him yet with dry-erase markers, but I sometimes hang large sheets of colored construction paper on this side using magnetic clips. Then, he can use the chalk to draw on the paper or I leave out a paintbrush and a bowl of water so he can “paint” without creating a mess.

I really love this easel. It is meant for older children, but I simply did not attach the bottom portion of the legs to make it closer to his height. It also comes with trays for paintbrushes, chalk, etc., which I haven’t attached yet either because they seemed like an invitation for climbing. I just love that this is a toy that can truly grow with him and that I can build upon as he grows.

Finally, our son has a little book nook. In it, we have a wooden book display that makes it easy for him to get and put away books. Once again, since space is limited, this allows me to change out his books on a regular basis, so there is often a “new” book out.

reading nookWe also have a small chair for him to sit in while he looks at books or has someone read to him. One benefit of both the bookcase and chair is that they are light enough for him to be able to move them around himself.

I think that just about covers the elements of the Montessori philosophy that we’ve incorporated into our home.

What have you done in your home to make it toddler-friendly?

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6 Responses to A Montessori-style home environment

  1. My husband and mother-in-law are not thrilled that I plan to use glasses (made of glass) for the twins. I pointed out that I got 6 of them for less than $2 at IKEA so we’re talking about pennies if they get broken. But their concern is more than the child could hurt themselves and end up in the ER from the broken glass. I pointed out that in all the time I’ve ever broken glass in my entire life, I have never once ended up in the ER over and don’t even think I ever cut myself. I pointed out that Maria Montessori does not make these suggestions lightly but has worked with many kids. Then it’s oh they’re not old enough at 19 months to be doing this. I said yes, actually, they are. I don’t think they’re thrilled, but I’m going to try the glass.

    • Based on my experience, I think you’ll be fine. Our son started using a glass before he was a year old and he has yet to break one (knock on wood). He’s dropped or spilled glasses several times, of course, but we’ve never had one of his shot glasses break. And honestly, even if one did break, I’d think the chances of a child getting hurt would be relatively small — not impossible, but small. Of course, you have to use common sense and not let them run around the house with glasses, keep an eye on them while they’re using them, etc.

      With the one mug our son did break, it just fell out of his hand onto the floor and shattered. I removed him from the area, cleaned up the mess and we both emerged from the experience unscathed.

      Good luck with it! From what I’ve seen, little ones are capable of more than most people think, you just have to give them a chance.

  2. my boys use the jelly ball jars {made of glass} to drink from. they are dropped ALL the time, and never break.


  3. I love how the book is at his level! Every child should be so lucky to have a book nook.
    We used your post for our weekly reading series for the summer @ theclassroomcreative . We hope to inspire other parents with our post. Enjoy your summer! Karen & Nicolette

    • Thanks so much! I love the bookcase, too, because it is easy for him to pull the books out (and put them away) himself.

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