“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
– Maria Montessori
Hello, everyone! It’s almost spring by us and the weather is so lovely right now. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share our Montessori homeschool space for our 4 little ones, all of which are in the first plane of development. Our oldest daughter just completed her 5th trip around the sun (Yay!) and since she’s starting Lower Elementary (1st Grade) in the fall, I thought this would be a good time to share a snapshot in time of where we’re at after 3 years of Primary Montessori Homeschool studies. First, I’m going to start off with a bit of background.
We took a formal Montessori homeschool course for the Primary years (3 – 6) in the beginning of 2018, knowing our daughter would begin in the fall of that year. While taking the homeschool course is when we began gathering the primary materials we wanted for our daughter and all her younger siblings who would soon follow. Using our scope and sequence for the primary years, we came up with a plan for what we wanted and then basically executed it within our budget. If you want to know how we did it, that info is in this post.
We knew that we wanted to meet our children where they were at. Also, we wanted to shoot for the highest-fidelity Montessori environment and experiences we could achieve, knowing that statistically it supports the outcomes we were looking for. Finally, we knew that we didn’t want any unnecessary expenses to weigh us down in the process.
Some things that helped us to be successful while navigating that earliest/scariest part of our journey on a frugal budget:
1) Taking a homeschooling course and having the guidance of a mentor – Probably the most important for avoiding buyer’s remorse or a confusing roadmap
2) No emotional purchases or impulse buys – We enjoy our minimalist lifestyle and didn’t want to stray from that
3) Only Montessori materials or Montessori-compatible purchases – We don’t have a cabinet or toy chest or room filled with fantasy-based toys or those electronic toys with the flashing lights for our first plane kids. Our oldest daughter just recently received a set of readers from us with anthropomorphism (funny talking animals) and she’s starting lower elementary in the fall.
4) Choosing what we thought was of the most value to our children’s education, whether that means encouraging the most interest or providing the most versatile opportunities for learning
5) Identifying which materials we thought would get the most long-term use
You may find that you don’t need to do any of these things but this is how it’s been an affordable and pleasant experience for us while growing our family and our $avings.
If you’ve read our previous posts, you’ve seen most of these items before. We’ve been collecting mostly books and the rest of our continent resources since the pandemic started, so I’m sure we may have done some things differently had we started our journey in 2020 and that would’ve been just fine too.
So here we are! My husband jokingly refers to Montessori as a euphemism for heavy projectile so this post is one of his favorites already. Let’s get started!
First, I’ll show you what’s in our environment and then I’ll show you what a rotation looks like for us right now.
Our Montessori Homeschool Space
The first 2 shelving units along the wall on the left hold our Sensorial materials:
I don’t rotate anything on that shelf. Our Land, Air, Water Mat and Landform Mat hang above those shelves so we can take them down whenever our kids want to work with them. The Pikler hangs out in the middle of the room and it’s used everyday by our 3 older children.
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This is our Math area. All the materials in this area are amazing! We have our Spielgaben on the left which is useful for ages 0-12 at a minimum and it’s great for cultivating a mathematical mind. Our 3.5 year old son works with the Spielgaben, the Number Rods, and the bottom two shelves which contain our:
Our son likes to jump ahead so he has a pretty solid understanding of the Clock and Fraction work as well.
This shelf arrangement works really well for our kids with the bottom two shelves for our 3.5 y.o. and the upper shelves mostly for our 5 y.o. I’d like to get the short bead chains & squares up on the wall soon so that we can use that space for a money activity. We have additional math works we rotate since we’re using one shelf for all.
The basket next to the shelf contains our SumBlox.
Our second shelf on the left is our Moveable Alphabet and below that is some lowercase and uppercase Sandpaper letter matching work and some beginning word work for our 3.5 year old. The bottom left shelf is some books for him and our almost 2 year old to enjoy.
The 2nd and 3rd shelf on the right all contain our Amphibian work:
The bottom right shelf is our Lowercase letter board and some lowercase blends that are just kind of hanging out in limbo. We were using them in conjunction with the yellow drawers of the reading program and we’ll pick back up with them here shortly with the blue drawers. It’s usually a matching activity of a blend to an animal or other item that contains the blend.
Again, we tend to keep the younger activities towards the bottom of the shelf (except the out of commission blends) and the more advanced works toward the top.
The basket next to that shelf contains our mats.
This is our toddler shelf and it gets rotated with developmental readiness. Our youngest daughter is almost 2 and she really likes playing with all the materials on the sensorial shelf as well but this is setup specifically for her interests. Up top is our farm puzzle that everyone still plays with and its too wide for the cubes. Inside the cubes we have:
Shape Sorter (circles and squares right now)
Screw People (lol)
a basket of soft toys for our almost 5 month old
missing Melissa & Doug Gears our daughter walked away with
Magnetic Fishing Game
A Mid-Size Giraffe is currently hanging out next to it.
Additional Art/Science/Geography in Our Montessori Homeschool Space
Over here is where we keep some additional Art materials and Geography materials. All of these materials are useful past the primary years and through elementary school. Our oldest two can access the items on the counter but it’s out of reach for our 1 year old. The drawers are empty except for our exercise equipment and some train parts. This area is going to be a point of interest for some elementary materials and will serve as our daughter’s supply cabinet.
We have our easel on the left with some chalk, an eraser, and another set of sandpaper letters. On the counter we have our:
Also, I changed the Amphibian works to Spring works using our favorite Spring printables: Question Game, Plant or Animal Sorting, Art/Language Inspiration, Living or Non-Living Sorting, Spring Word Rhyming
Finally, I changed the Hundred Board Extension from a winter background to a spring background from the same printable file.
That’s enough for us. In other words, it’s a nice subtle change to our Montessori homeschool space and it isn’t too overwhelming for anyone. And that’s great for me, because I don’t have a lot of free time right now. Therefore, this should suit us until our kids are ready to move on to their next continent.
What we didn’t cover about our Montessori Homeschool Space:
Bookshelves and Bins – We have several throughout our home and our kids are never too far from something constructive to read
Writing/Art Cabinet – I’m going to share an update on this and our Art/Handwriting materials
Practical Life – we keep these items in the applicable rooms
We keep additional printables, puzzles, toddler toys, baby items, Continent nomenclature, and math works around the house and stored for rotation as needed.
We keep our Barn, Schleich farm animals, and dinosaurs together upstairs
I did purchase some of what i jokingly call doomsday curriculum on clearance, in the event everything came to a halt during this pandemic and services or goods were scarce. I have that squirreled away just in case. Yes, I’m that person. 🙂
Really, for us, it has always been a balance of time and money. During the early years we had 2 children and we prioritized spending over time. As a result, I did more leg work to cut down on costs for the Primary Years and that really benefitted us without sacrificing their enjoyment. Now that we have 4 kids and we’re implementing our plan for the Elementary years, we’ve been able to shift our focus to prioritizing time and it has allowed us to seek out a variety of meaningful child-led experiences for our kids throughout their elementary years.
We love our Montessori lifestyle and our Montessori homeschool space! We’ve been able to cultivate a prepared environment suitable for our little ones, they genuinely look forward to learning everyday asking to “do school”, and they enjoy teaching each other in a close-knit mixed-age environment. In addition, my husband and I have appreciated seeing how their environment grows and changes with them and they progress they’ve made. Now, we’re excited to see what happens next!
We hope you all are doing well! Until next time, stay happy and healthy together!
Sweet Fact: 2 years ago, I read all the questions in the Spring Question Game. However, this year, she read them all! 💜