Moving to a new house was super exciting, because it was an easy way to totally reinvent the baby’s bedroom and playroom. I thought long and hard about what elements were to be in each space, so that she would be learning and playing all at once.
While we haven’t made it all the way to the 100% wooden toys stage of our Montessori journey, there are many Montessori routed ideas that I tried to incorporate into our babies bedroom.
If you aren’t sure what Montessori is all about, there are so many Instagram famous moms you could easily check out just by following the hashtag #Montessori (plus about a million other versions of that), or you could grab the Montessori handbook or other published guidelines wherever you buy or borrow books.
The Montessori element that I have latched onto the most, is the idea of having fewer toys, bu choosing toys that offer options. For example, the famous wooden rainbow toy teaches stacking, colors, and size just to name a few and can be stacked small to large, large to small, in flat circles, or into ball runs (among other idea my limited mind hasn’t reached yet…). Our rainbow, though a knock-off and not made by the famous, German toy-making company, is a staple on our shelves.
In addition to limiting the toys, you want each toy to be visible and accessible to the child, Many people use cube shelving units, which, I admit, I adore, but we had this unit already so we’re sticking with it. We’ve left off the top row because those were harder for her to reach, and, honestly because she doesn’t need to have that many toys.
Toy rotation helps keep your children from getting too bored of the same thing, and limiting the amount of toys on hand helps your child stretch their imagination and creativity as they find new ways to play with them. Having a playroom and a bedroom makes toy rotation easy for us, because mixing up the toys is almost as exciting to our little one as pulling out new toys. This week the wooden blocks and the stacking rainbow are both in her bedroom, and she’s already starting to stack them together.
We also discovered that when she can see all of her toys, she makes a more conscious decision about which ones she takes out and plays with, because she is aware of what all of her options are without dumping all of the boxes on the floor. We tried the same theory with some of our books, and its been working great.
This shelf is at just the right height for our 2 year-old to see the books, and decide which one she wants to read. While I have seen some mesmerizing photos of shelves with book spines organized by color, this seems to work way better for us. Our baby girl can communicate with us about which book she wants, based on what she sees on the cover, rather than having to pull out a dozen to see them all. We rotate these books out, so she is being exposed to different ones.
The blog “Raise Them Reading” shares more tips about choosing and displaying books for little ones in this recent blog post, and we can’t wait to put some of these ideas to the test, like creating a reading nook with a basket of our most-loved.
I also decided that it was important for our child to have an art-station, because she loves to be working on things “like mama.” This particular art station is honestly just an upturned plastic bin, because we had a lot of them left over from moving and it was just the right height for her little body to stand at.
Our wonderful babysitter got the easel for us at a mega sale from one of our local art stores. One side is a chalk board, while the other is a white board with clips for hanging paper and using all sorts of supplies on. Next to it, we keep the rest of the art supplies as organized as we can in a shower caddy. We limit the choices here as well, and rotate them out when things get old. We currently have two coloring books, a handful of sheets of white card-stock, 4 crayons, and 2 different “WATER WOW” painting sets.
If you’re wondering why we only have 4 crayons, the answer is simple. We are trying to get our child to start saying the names of the colors, and we don’t want to overwhelm her with too many at once. Her art skills aren’t yet to the point where she thinks about drawing a specific thing, the beach, for example, and then chooses colors based on what that scene would look like in reality, instead she just scribbles. Therefore, she doesn’t need a ton of choices all at once.
We also offer her another child-sized table. This one I keep full of thematic items, currently the farm. She has her farm figurines, a farm animal puzzle, and all of the books we have that are about farm animals.
The number of items on this table can vary, but we always try to give her multiple ways to connect with the same theme. A lot of our farm-play connected to discussions of our own animals, and whether they were similar to these animals. We’ve also used the puzzle to focus on animal sounds, and the figurines to focus on animal homes, both of which we can re-touch on in our own home and yard.
In addition to the theme table, we have a felt board because it is so useful for so many things. Right now we have a snowman felt set, since we haven’t had enough snow to make one outdoors, and we are beginning to work on recognizing the letters to her name. While we are not pushing her to learn letters yet, we are starting to make sure they show up over and over again. I will frequently add her letters to her felt board when she is done playing so she will see them. We also stick them to the wall in the bath tub, and write them for her on her art papers.
Our felt board is under our bookshelf because it was a spot that the little one had already decided she wanted to hang out in. This felt board is one that I made on my own, which is listed on Etsy in two colors and two sizes. We also keep one in the playroom, in a smaller size that she uses flat on the floor. She loves the way the felt sticks together, and I love that there are felt board options to cover almost any educational goal and theme.
Do you have a station similar to ours? Do you have an idea that you think we would love to try? Tag us, text them to us, or leave a comment so we can try out what works for you. Need our help with designing a great playroom or bedroom? Send us a message and we’ll help you however we can!