Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making Room for Kids

One of the ideas Maria Montessori had was that spaces for kids should be arranged in a way that the kids can use the space without adult help. Our house is small so there isn't a play room but the kids are welcome to enjoy using the whole place for their leaning and exploring.
Here are pictures of two of our activity areas.
This is the bottom half of the kitchen/dining room shelf.
On the floor are boxes with supplies that are too big/heavy to store elsewhere.
The 1st shelf from the bottom has "baby books" on the left. They are board books which are very durable. I rotate these according to season and interests. The tan containers with brown handles are CD cases. Our CD player is in the same room as the shelf so in addition to adding weight to the bottom to stop the shelf from tipping, it also makes changing music an activity that the kids can help with.
The second and third shelves from the bottom are home to various activities. Each one has a basket or tray of some kind. When the Little Guy wants to do an activity he takes the tray/basket to his work table, lays everything out, does the activity, cleans everything up and finally returns the tray to the shelf.
My husband once asked "how do you know where everything goes?". Since you only take one tray out at a time it is easy to figure out that it goes into the open space on the shelf. No labels needed!

This is part of our tatami room. It is about half of the living room so again, this is a shared and multipurpose space. The basic rule here is that toys stay on the tatami. The other side of the room has a lot of foot traffic so we try to limit the number of things to trip over.
On the left you can see the keyboard and guitars. This part of our house is where I feel we can be the loudest without disturbing our neighbors so we use the space for music times.
Next to the guitars is the bookshelf. The books are arranged generally by topic and series with the *special* books on the top shelf. I have a number of books which are fragile so they are kept up top where they can be requested and enjoyed with adult supervision.
The four wooden boxes are home to three cloth boxes numbered 1,2,3 and a space for books. The contents of the boxes are rotated according to interests at the time. On top of the boxes is a lamp which the the Little Guy is in charge of turning on/off and a box with various kid size instruments.

We have other kid-friendly spaces throughout the house. As I have time I'll take pictures of those too.

As a mom with a newborn and a toddler I can tell you that having a prepared environment has made my life much easier. Since the toddler can reach most things he is able to be independent rather than relying on me to do/reach everything for him.

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