To tell you the truth, you can organize your homeschool classroom however you want. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. No one is going to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. As long as you follow a short list of Montessori basics and find a set up that works for you, that’s all you need. I’m not a trained Montessori directress (teacher), just a Montessori Mom so if you’re trained and have input to share…please do. That being said, this is what works for us…
^First and most important area: You need open shelving that is easy for the children to access independently. This is an old Ikea storage unit with the doors removed. I love this unit because it has the taller area in the middle for the pink tower. This layout is set up for Asher’s preschool group, which is 3 and 4 year-olds.
If you have children of multiple ages, you can either put their materials on different shelves, completely different units or simply tell them which ones they are able to work on. I personally don’t like limiting the boys’ work to what is “age appropriate”, but I do tell them they need me to present new materials before they work on them for the first time. This lets me know they understand the purpose of the work and allows me to observe since Montessori doesn’t test the students. The only evaluation is done through observation.
Some people organize the materials by theme. For instance, one shelf will be all of the practical life materials. Another will be all of the language materials. I don’t do this. I place them on the shelves as they fit and are visually appealing. I like to think they will be more well-rounded with their choices this way or will pick something they are less likely to pick because it’s near something they love. It seems to be that way with my boys, but I have no idea if anyone else sees the same thing happen in their home. Thoughts?
I also recently bought rugs for our school room since it will be used by more children now. Well…kind of. I actually bought placemats which were on sale for $1.39 at Target. Those will have to work for us for now. You can see them stored in the basket to the side. Show the children how to roll and unroll the rugs before they use them.
^The second area is used for storage. I use the top shelf to hold materials appropriate for only my 6 year-old. The bottom green bins are used to store materials we aren’t currently using. There are up to 3 sets of work stored in each bin. This helps keep the mess out of sight, which I love. I don’t have a lot of closet space in my home so I’m always looking for ways to store items. These units are also from Ikea. If you don’t need this much storage, you can also slide wood shelves into the grooves to make some of it storage and some of it open shelving. This style of storage is really flexible.
^The third area is a writing station. The Ikea box (do you see a trend?) holds our art supplies and coloring books. It usually looks a little messy like this because we are always digging in it, but it works for us. You could also use a plastic unit with drawers if you want it even more organized. If you are making a writing center, make sure a trash basket is nearby and the movable alphabet is easily accessible.
^I store our movable alphabet permanently next to our writing station, but you can also store it on a shelf for the child to bring over when he wants to work on spelling and writing. If you can’t or don’t want to purchase a movable alphabet, Montessori Print Shop has an economical printable option you can find here.
^The fourth area is dedicated to Circle Time. We only set up this area for Asher’s preschool. When it’s just JR, Asher and I it seems silly and non-productive for us to do circle time. The mats are felt sheets with their names painted on them. The board is something that came with the preschool curriculum our group purchased. When circle time is over, we remove the mats and roll out our rugs for our Montessori work cycle.
^I update our shelves approximately once a month, exchanging items for things out of our storage or new items. I usually like to keep our shelves pretty well-rounded. You can see math, sensorial, practical life and science on these shelves. We went over language in circle time, but that should be included too. We worked on a jungle theme so I updated a few trays to match that theme.
^Broad Stairs (Brown Stairs), Pink Tower, Geometric Solids Box
There you have it. All of my organizational secrets. It’s really nothing special, but I hope it helped someone, because it sure did take a long time to write. If you use a lot of 3-part cards, you should check out the tutorials shared by Montessori Print Shop on how to store and organize those materials.