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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Montessori Materials & Environment

Hello everyone!

Last time I gave a little bit of an overview on the basic principles of the Montessori method. This post I would like to talk about the materials that should be used for Montessori activities and the ideal environment these activities should be done in.


One of the goals of the Montessori method is to bring children back to a more natural environment. This means using wood, glass, ceramic as opposed to plastic. Part of the learning process involves using care when handling breakables. A natural consequence of inappropriate handling is they break. Plastic doesn’t necessarily teach the children to be careful. When it drops, it bounces. Everything is okay. Using all plastic gives children the false sense that they can be rough with things and they in turn do not quite learn how to respect the item.

Does is make me nervous though to watch my daughter carry glass containers across our kitchen floor? Yes, but I also love to see how CAREFUL she is with it. She really concentrates on carrying it perfectly to her destination. We also have carpet in our living room where most activities take place so I don't fear her dropping and breaking things while she is working with them. Wood, glass, etc. are also heavier than plastic so it gives children a feel for differences in weight and how to be careful in putting those items down on the table carefully.

Of course budget does come into play, so just do what you can with what you have. Second-hand stores, garage sales, and dollar stores are great places to find inexpensive glass jars, ceramic items, etc. So be creative!


It is suggested to have a specific place to keep your school equipment and a specific room in which to conduct "school". The reason for this is to let your child depend on the permanence of this arrangement and know where each piece of equipment may be found. "A place for everything and everything in its place."

The items should be nicely arranged and laid out on open shelves for the child to easily take an activity off the shelf to use. Once an activity is done, the child should always put it back where it belongs. In this way he is taught order and respect for things. My daughter got the hang of this very easily. Rather than leaving all her toys out on the floor, she really has taken to putting them away where they go when she is done. She doesn't do this all the time by herself but she will if I ask her.

If you don't have a specific room that can be used for school you can also used a roll away shelf that can be rolled into a closet when not in use.

I personally live in an apartment at the time and don't even have the luxury of doing that. At the time I have some Montessori activities tucked away in a back hallway on a shelf, it is not ideal but it allows my daughter to be able to work with what she wants and put it back when she is done.

Next week I will touch on how to introduce activities to your child and give you a few activities I have used with my daughter.

If there are any questions about the posts thus far, please don't hesitate to ask, I love comments!

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