Welcome to our new space. Some of you have not yet had a chance to visit. So I would love to show you around.
The classroom is set up today for a parent-toddler class for children from 16 months to 3 years. We are lucky to have a lot of light in this space and some gorgeous original features which give it a cosy feel. I chose a rug in this room that you might find in a home, lots of plants, soft curtains and cushions for parents to sit on. It’s just like having the kids come visit me at home. It’s so relaxed and comfortable.
You also see that everything is set up at the child’s height. They immediately are attracted to the activities set out in trays and baskets that they can manage themselves.
Let’s look around a bit.
The children learn in our classes how to make their own snack at a very young age. The learn how to set the table, spread a cracker, peel and cut a banana or apple, or make their own orange juice. I still smile to myself every time I see them take the peel of the fruit and place it in the bin, or when they clear their plate, cutlery and placemat to the dirty dish trolley when they have finished.
They love to make their snack all by themselves. And the parents learn how to set up their kitchen at home so they can do the same there too.
Here is our music shelf. I have a different selection of instruments available for the children to try. They love to sing along with me or make music by themselves. The music puzzle is by Melissa and Doug and sings Old MacDonald Has a Farm with all the different instruments. The children love it. We also have small bean bags and scarves in this area combining some movement and music.
Montessori children also like to move. Our classes are 2 hours long and we don’t have an outside space. So here we are being very creative. The climbing wall, the stairs and the cosy cube were all made by a carpenter. I love watching the kids scaling the climbing wall – you can see every muscle at work. And the cosy cube is a great place to find a quiet spot or join a friend. The stairs are mostly for babies to practise stair-climbing with a handrail to hold onto. The older toddlers enjoy them too. And sometimes you’ll find someone reading a book up here.
Practical life activities
You can see a whole post here about the practical life area in our classroom. Here are the cleaning things at the ready for the children to help themselves. If the cloth on the mop gets wet, there is a supply at the ready. The basket to the right is used for laundry. And you can see the window washing basket too.
Here is the flower arranging, self care and hand-washing table. There is a low tap available for children to fetch the water independently.
The toddler class has vocabulary baskets to explore – the easiest just have objects, then objects with matching cards, objects with similar cards, and just cards. This area is constantly in use. When a basket has been mastered or is being misused, it’s a good time to swap out for another set of cards and objects.
The farm is also great for building vocabulary. For this age group, I love to keep just 5 – 7 animals available at a time. This gives enough opportunity for exploration without being too many when you find the animals start being thrown about instead.
Eye-hand coordination (manipulatives)
The Montessori approach is well known for it’s beautiful wooden materials that the children love to explore. They have opportunities to refine their eye-hand coordination with puzzles, threading activities, baskets and lock boxes for practising opening and closing and the like.
And let’s not forget the art area. I know that people often say that the Montessori program is not strong in art. In our space, this area is super busy. Kids cutting, pasting, sewing and drawing. There are tables nearby for them to use or an easel for painting or chalk.
For our younger siblings, we have a small area they can explore and a pull up bar for those practising cruising!
I had so much fun creating this new environment. I love to sit on the floor and see the room from the child’s height and then to see them so engaged during class. I still have some plants to hang, some mirrors and artwork to add, so I’ll post an update when I finally get around to these things too.
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of our classroom in Amsterdam. If you are ever in Europe, you’ll have to pop by and say hello!