A long time ago I worked in a Montessori school. For the most part, I like the theory and the way a Montessori school runs so I would definitely recommend looking into schools like First Academy Child Care and Montessori that use this teaching method. Children have age appropriate jobs that are contained within a certain space. This allows the children to choose their jobs, use them properly, put the materials away when they are done and move on to the next job they choose. I love this concept and try to stick with this in our house. The playroom is a bit of a challenge for me as we currently have a 3 year old and an 11 month old. Obviously the activities the 3 year old can do are different, and sometimes not safe, for the 11 month old. I try to set up our playroom to allow both children to safely and happily play together.
As you saw from my post yesterday, this is what our playroom can end up looking like. Sigh.
It was a disaster! This is how it gets if I don’t 1) stay on top of my 3 year old to clean up one activity before she moves on to another activity and 2) don’t immediately clean up after my 11 month old. Some days I don’t have time for that! Plus, we have a ton of hand me down toys that pieces and parts are missing. I needed to go through and clean up/separate/sort the toys. I am sort of an all or nothing gal when it comes to organization. It is either completely organized 100% of the time or no organization ever. I can be super OCD about organization and, if I let it, it would overtake me. So I have to take a step back, move away from the mess and focus on something else. I do not like having a toy box because then all the pieces and parts get mixed up and then you do not know what goes with what. Drives me crazy! I like shelves and everything having a place. If I can’t find a place for it, it gets donated. (I am really good at finding a place for it, my husband would rather see it get donated.)
Here is the cleaned up version of our play room. This is how I wish it looked every day! (Notice this picture was taken at night, after I cleaned. When all the babies were asleep.)
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Along this wall I have a shelf with boxes that are meant for specific items. I used to have photos on each box showing what goes inside. I find this is extremely helpful for my 3 year old. When the photos are on the boxes she can see exactly what is supposed to go inside. This is also helpful when my husband cleans the playroom. (Yes the top is messy, in a perfect world, once Baby Sister is no longer using bibs, that will be clean. I think.)
A bookshelf is very important. We LOVE books in our house. Our daughters’ book collection has grown. When our 3 year old was little the top shelf of the bookcase was for books and the bottom two shelves were for toys. As you can see, we have had to move the toys off and use the space for books.
The play kitchen is a hit in our house. My husband made it out of an entertainment center when Bunny, our 3 year old, was almost 2 years old. She plays with it daily and our 11 month old, Baby Sister, has played with it since she could stand, at about 8 months old. We have so many different play food items, I try to keep them separated. Dishes too. This is hard as Bunny loves to cook and doesn’t love to separate them out when she is done. I LOVE the storage in this kitchen. I like to rotate toys and use the top of the kitchen for storage.
Our parking area is over here. Keep in mind, many of these are hand me downs. One of those doll strollers is from my 13 year old niece! If I had to buy these I would suggest only one push item and one ride on item. Behind the parking is a music box which is full of our musical instruments. Bunny is pretty good at putting these away immediately after use. We also have some of our baby doll furniture over here to take out and use when needed.
The dress up area is relatively new. I built this one Sunday with scrap wood we had lying around. My husband supervised and helped when needed. I love that Bunny can see her dress up clothes and can try to hang them up herself. She has her shoes in one of the boxes across the room and accessories are under the train table in a case.
The train table has sets underneath it, like the box of accessories, a box of puzzles and a few other items that are separated out. The train table gives her a nice big area to work on. Baby Sister loves to stand up and work at the train table as well.
Bunny’s favorite area is her little table. My husband made that too, he’s pretty handy. You can purchase a child’s table at a store but they are expensive. I suggest buying second hand. This table is pushed up against our desk, which sits in the playroom as well. This way I can do some work while Bunny colors or does an activity at her table.
We keep our trays, or jobs, in a different area. This allows our trays to be specific to Bunny’s age and interests and keeps Baby Sister out of them as they contain small pieces. Our playroom follows some of the Montessori theories but also allows us to do our own thing. It is definitely not the perfect Montessori play room, but it is ours and we love it.