And children always appreciate a beautiful classroom. Whenever I re-arrange (Note: Make sure to orient the children of changes in the environment), or add a carpet or fresh flowers; they'll come in wide-eyed, whispering their wows (because we use inside voices).
So it was with more than my usual enthusiasm that I set up a Montessori infant/toddler room for Cara, whose version of whispered wows and "It's beautiful here, Teacher Mars", is her shrieks of delight and her eagerness to explore and experience the environment.
In preparing our room, I took into particular account, Montessori's Sensitive Periods (for the first plane of development, 0-6 years old). I'll write about that for a bit, too, while I take you on a little tour of Cara's room.
SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR MOVEMENT
One of the things that was a revelation and love-at-first-sight for me when I was learning about Montessori's philosophy, is how much opportunity and space there is, both in a classroom and at home, for movement.
Children in a Montessori casa work on rugs on the floor and here's Cara with a basket of ribbons on a floor mat.
Low and stable shelves for the materials and for Cara to pull-up on.
Floor bed for sleeping. Truth be told, we did buy a crib (because of all the pretty nursery Pinterests), but we never got to use it! We love the floor bed--it gives Cara an unobstructed view of her world and an unrestricted opportunity to experiment her increasing movements and abilities. She wakes up happily from the floor bed, too, and just crawls to the shelves for an activity--usually towards the books.
Our pull-up bar is really a tension rod for the shower. I had a spare so I tried it out (and because I'm not too handy with a drill) and it has worked nicely for us (make sure to test that it's stable for when the baby pulls up on the bar).
A mirror is always a good point of interest. When Cara was younger, we had that mirror placed horizontally nearer the floor to engage her during tummy time and to encourage her to roll and crawl. Now it's that way for standing up and walking.
Below the mirror is our wooden hedgehog ramp walker. Cara loves and moves to its beat as it goes down the ramp.
That corner by the end of the shelf and the end of the bar has been quite a challenge for Cara. She'd usually just go down and crawl instead of walk to move from the front of that shelf to the bar.
But now look! She has gained confidence!
Fine motor skills are developed, too. Here's Cara with a Peg Board.
SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR SENSORY DEVELOPMENT
Let me be an addition to the already many resources that say children learn through their senses. The key, I think, is preparing an environment that is multisensorial and sufficiently stimulating (as opposed to overly).
Mirrors are magic.
Hang paintings on the child's level of sight. Cara loves to feel the texture of paint on the canvas, too.
For auditory experience, this bell, along with a sound cylinder and a pair of maracas.
Most olfactory and gustatory activities are in the kitchen/dining room (which I will write about another time).
SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR ORDER
There was this one time I sang "You Are My Sunshine" with a maracas and Cara was playing the sound cylinder. The next day, when I started singing the same song, without other prompting, Cara went to the shelf, took out the sound cylinder, and started shaking it, playing while I sang! As an observer, this was fascinating for me because one, she has already associated the particular stimulus with a particular experience; and two, because she knew exactly where to get the sound cylinder. Children recognize, remember, and relish routine and observe (observe, meaning watch; and observe, meaning follow) order. It is part of our task to provide them with an environment (and schedule) that respects and responds to this sensitivity.
An open shelf that invites the child to work. Here we have some Montessori-inspired and DIY materials I prepared for Cara.
Some books are on the shelf like this (again, they're inviting) and I just rotate them. I keep some in a wicker basket, too, because Cara likes going through them and taking out the one she likes.
SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR LANGUAGE
One of my perpetual wonders is how a child acquires language. And as I see now how Cara came to know "kiss" (she'll give you a kiss on the cheek) and "knock" (she'll knock on the doors) among other words, I only have a few answers, but a lot, a lot of amazement.
A book is always a perfect venue for opportunities for conversation, for language.
Cara's reading nook. My favorite corner in the house.
That's our Montessori infant/toddler room, for now. I hope you find a tip or two here that would work nicely for your home. For more Montessori here and elsewhere, like Montessori on Mars on Facebook and follow @montessorionmars on Instagram.