I first started looking into this idea, as a way to extend play-time. At 5 months or so, Anna was picking things up here and ignoring things in other places, our tiny apartment was a mess, etc. I felt like if she had a more centralized play area she would enjoy her toys more, and stay occupied longer. I know Montessori is a whole lifestyle in itself, and I don’t want to undermine it in any way. Let’s use the term “inspired” loosely! Having said that, Anna loves this play area. She spends all day there. Now at 13 months, she’s putting things back and placing new things on the shelves, herself.
The Montessori shelf set-up is intended to promote creative and imaginative play– interestingly enough, by starting with order and organization. The idea is to keep with all the toys in their place, and have them returned to the same spots after play. We try to collect toys that are open-ended and maximize usage. The toys themselves are then grouped and put into baskets on the shelves. A big component of Montessori toys are no blinking lights and high-pitched noises and sounds but rather natural materials and textures. Although we do have a few of the fancy bells and whistles, electronic toys in our house, I try to keep them away from the shelf area.
Having a reasonable amount of toys out at the same time, is also an aspect of Montessori. I usually keep out the ones that Anna’s into at the time, and then rotate out a few baskets, or when we find something new. The rest of her toys, are in a basket in her room or a bin in the living room, but if things start adding up beyond this, I try to sell or trade to keep the amount of stuff under control.
As I mentioned above, Anna loves this playspace, and so does Mommy. Haha. While I do not know enough about Montessori learning to thoughtfully comment beyond this, I am all about encouraging creativity and imagination. I hope to find small, affordable and effective ways to integrate some of these themes into our home.
Shelf: Home Depot (old) | Baskets: Target & Homegoods | Bead Maze: Used | Lamb: Gift from Uncle Dou
Toys: Most everything was either gifted, hand-me-downs, bought second-hand, or at Homegoods
Row 1: Assorted Books, including Alphablock (One of the most creative board books I’ve ever seen! Plays with positive and negative space with cut out letters and fun illustrations | Snacks: Happy Baby Organics | Books: Farm & Safari Friends Books
Row 2: Wooden Rainbow Stacker | Links (similar) & Caterpillar Spiller Stacking Cups | Stacking Boxes (similar) & Rainbow Ball (Grandma ordered this hypoallergenic ball from Amazon, expecting it to be much larger… keke. Anna still loves it.)