How to Prepare Your Classroom
The Montessori environment is a combination of the classroom, teacher, outdoor classroom and garden, and all other facilities. It should be welcoming, attractive and orderly. It is set up for thinking and learning activity.
Montessori understood that a child’s environment developed a child’s brain. It is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Montessori’s approach and philosophy.
- The furniture should be low enough to accommodate a child’s height and body proportions. Tables and chairs should be varying sizes and heights to represent the various sizes of children.
- Tables and chairs, in fact all the furniture, should be light and easy enough for the child to move. There is a control of error built into movable furniture in that the child realizes he or she has been careless when the furniture moves or is knocked over.
- Light furniture and table tops that show dirt and spills. A child will be able to easily see the soiled furniture and clean it.
- Furniture should be left to make noise. Montessori classrooms don’t put felt pads on the bottom of chairs or tables. The noise of pushing a chair under a table shows a child how to carefully and quietly to push a chair under a table.
- Chairs should have large seats and short legs. There should be a variety of sizes.
- Different styles of chairs–chairs with arms, chairs without arms, wide stools, etc.
- Chairs should be made of wood that are wood grain or light colored chairs that show dirt marks. The chairs should be made for scrubbing.
- Rugs are provided for activities such as the pink tower, broad or brown stair, red rods, and number rods.
- Provide a rack or a large rubber band to roll up the rugs. Rugs that are not too soft roll the best. You can fold the softer rugs and place them in a basket or cupboard.
- Take into consideration the apparatus and the shape of the room when picking out tables. The tables should match the chairs in that there is the proper space between the chairs and the table for sitting purposes.
- Provide different tables suitable for different activities. Some tables can be for individual work and others for group work.
- Tables should be wood grain or light colored material that can be washed.
- Children should be able to move the tables, so they should be light enough.
Shelves and Cupboards
- Shelves and cupboards should be low enough for children to reach items from the very top. They should be able to dust the bottom to the top of the shelves and cupboards.
- They should be lightweight enough for children to move and clean behind them.
- The spaces should be the correct size for the apparatus, which is always kept in the same spot.
- They should be light in color and look attractive.
- You can make curtains instead of heavy doors for your cupboards.
Artwork and Paintings
- Beautiful artwork and reproductions are important for children under the age of 5. Remember to hang the pictures at eye level. You can purchase artwork such as reproductions in postcards, posters, or sculptures.
- Change the pictures and artwork periodically. Just have a few paintings or sculptures at a time.
- Provide vases and flowers for the children to arrange and care for. You can use dried flowers, branches, and other types of flora when flowers are no longer abundant in the winter months.
- Dishes and glasses made of china and glass. It’s important for a child to learn how to use breakables with care. I would start slowly with a teacup, and work up to more breakable tableware. Also, small china pitchers are a good beginning for practical life skills.
- Buy or adapt to the right child size, brooms, scrubbing brushes, dish brushes, dust pans and whisk brooms, dusters, sponges, spray bottles, etc. Keep the cleaning materials in an attractive caddy. You can cut off brooms and sanded the tops. Make sure the items are good and attractive quality.
- Cleaning products. I like to use natural products for cleaning. Health food stores have wonderful natural cleaning products, soaps made from peppermint, lavender, almond, etc.-Also, soda is a good, safe abrasive cleaner. Diluted vinegar is also a wonderful cleaning product. Cleaning should be done to keep the living area tidy. For young children use only clean water for cleaning. Of course, children will clean the same item more than once!
- Brass, Copper and Silver. I like to use natural cleaners for these as well. Brass and Copper can be cleaned with tomato ketchup . Silver can be cleaned by putting aluminum foil (shiny side down) line the bottom of a pan, add warm water, a teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of soda. Soak, rinse and buff with a clean cloth. Another way to clean silver is to use chalk dust. Read more here.
Other Items Needed in The Classroom
According to your children’s ages and development–
- Sensorial apparatus for children under the age of six.
- Cultural material according to age and development.
- A complete library or access to a library. Books such as story, picture, reference, science, art illustrations, poems. Also educational videos or DVDs and music CDs, records or tapes.
- Material in the room should be at the developmental level of the children. Remove material they have outgrown. Also, it is important not to put in material that is above their level.
- Art supplies-crayons, scissors, paint, brushes, pencils, paper and chalk.
- Chalk board or white board.
- Materials for taking care of the environment.
Restroom and Closets
If you don’t have low toilets and sinks, have a safe step stool for reaching the sink and toilet. A full-length mirror helps a child see himself/herself to make sure they are properly dressed. Have a container for personal hygiene products, such as toothbrush, tooth paste, comb, etc. Low coat hooks and pegs or a lowered bar in the closet. Small hangers for clothes. Again, everything should have its place and items kept in order.
Garden and Play Area
The garden area should be ideally next to the classroom. It should be small enough for the children to take care of the area. At home supply stores you can purchase small spades with short handles, rakes, watering cans etc. Also, an outdoor broom for sweeping the paths is useful. The play area can include a sand pit with sand shovels, containers, sieves, ideally, trees for climbing or climbing equipment, building materials-wood, nails, hammers, etc.
One of the most important aspects of the Montessori classroom is the teacher. She/he is a part of the attractive environment; she/he should be well groomed. The teacher’s part is to show how the equipment is used. Also, a large part of her/his job is to keep the classroom well maintained. There should be perfect order; the children and the teacher should try to maintain this together. They should even mend items together that are in disrepair. Anything that can’t be repaired by the students and teacher needs to be taken out of the room until it can be mended.
The children’s prepared environment promotes freedom, work and inspiration for learning. It always allows for activity.
Montessori and Religion