Thursday 28 November 2013


How to Organize Your Child's Montessori Classroom?

Designing Your Child's Work & Play Area... 

with focus on Functionality, Ease of Management & Simplicity (The FEMS Concept)

As J grows from a baby to a toddler to a boy... soon to start school in a year, his need for a learning environment designed to suit his stage of development increased. I have been putting this off, when I was working full-time. Now that I have the chance to go part-time, I wasted no time in getting J's learning and playing environment organized. In this post, I will share my experience of how our family design our child's work & play area, maximizing on our strengths and working within our limitations.

Montessori Classroom - Language & Sensorial Area

Due to the constraint of separate space, J's bedroom is divided into sleeping area and Montessori Classroom area. 

Here is the Montessori classroom area.

Here is a close up of the J's book shelves with each compartment organized as follows: Christian education, Chinese books, English books, Danish books, jigsaw puzzles, educational board games, Workbooks and Encyclopedia.

Here is a close-up of the Sensorial shelf with work trays for displaying sensorial materials for the first 6 compartments and the last 2 reserved for freeplay work trays.

Here is a close up of the language shelf with each compartment organized as follows:

A theme letter compartment, Letter magnets, Letter salt trays, Lego letters and shapes bricks, a compartment with door for the storage of finished work and a compartment for storing the language materials.

It is our plan that each time J has finished a work, he will deposit it into the storage compartment. At the end of the week, he will choose which of the better ones he would want to keep and discard the rest.

Above the shelf stands the ABC boxes containing tiny figurines represent the letters and a set of workbooks he is currently working on. The wooden box contains some spare stationery such as crayons.

We have also included the national flags of Singapore, Denmark and China as part of his heritage education. It is my plan to start School Time with the singing of the National Anthem. Now, which one would we sing, you may ask :-) We will start with the Singapore National Anthem that he has heard since he was a baby as part of his lullaby :-)

In this corner, we have included the Ikea Billy bookshelves. 

The first shelf from the left consists of books, mainly baby books. You may ask, hasn't J overgrown baby books now. Not really. They serve as good beginning readers for small children. Included are also some hand-me-down beginner reader books from Singapore, many thanks to my brother.

The next shelf consists of DVDs.

The third shelf consists of CDs, mainly children's songs in Danish, English and Chinese, as well as children's Christian music.

The last shelf at the bottom consists of Chinese books and flash cards for beginning readers. J is learning how to recognize Chinese characters from these materials. We bought them mainly from Singapore and some are hand-me-down from my brother's kids.

The top shelf to the right is allocated for Montessori Practical Life's work trays. J does not do as much Practical Life now, but it is still good to have. So only two work trays are allocated to Practical Life, and they will be rotated accordingly compared to 8 work tray spaces allocated when he started Montessori activity when he was 2 years old.

The next shelf is displayed with Montessori metal inserts spread out for his easy access and selection.

The third shelf is displayed with color pencils and crayons so that he can easily select a pencil to do his metal insert work or other work from the workbooks.

The last shelf is displayed with homemade Montessori Movable Letters useful also for teaching and playing with Chinese Hanyu Pinyin and the frame for the metal inserts.


Another view of the classroom. We don't have space to put the Montessori Maths materials in the same room, and it may not be desired as well. We have displayed them in another room.

Montessori Classroom - Maths Area

We now have a Multi-Purpose Room. In this Multi-Purpose Room, we have allocated a corner for the display the Montessori Maths materials.

This Multi-Purpose Room is used as Guest Room-cum-Clothes Drying Room-cum-Ironing Room-cum-Montessori Maths Classroom. 

In this way, we overcome our problem of the lack of space by making a simple room free as much as possible from beautiful, but unnecessary furniture to make space so that with a mattress thrown in, it can quickly be converted to a guest room.

My significant Other and I have talked about it. We could have used our money to buy a bigger house, and spend the money on beautiful furniture such as sofa-bed, etc., but I would have to work full-time, and I would not have the time to do Montessori with J.

This is the best arrangement for us. It also saves on cleaning cost and time, in a smaller place :-)

Here is a close up of the Montessori Maths shelves so that we can rotate the work trays in each compartment.

It is organized in a logical sequence starting from the easiest material for J and increasing in difficulty according to the Montessori curriculum. 

Clockwise from left: Number Rods, Spindle Box, Teen numbers from popsicle sticks, Even-&-Odd Numbers, Introduction to Decimal Quantity, Introduction to Decimal System, Golden Beads, Thousand Cubes for the Bank Game.

The Cubes are displayed so that J can go and take them himself, without help from me all the time.

Updated 23 May 2014

Montessori Maths shelves continued...

Colored Beads, Teen Bead Hanger, Teen Board, Hundred Board, Negative Snake Game, Complete Golden Beads materials, Stamp Game, Addition Strip Board and Addition Working Charts.

Updated 23 May 2014

We have placed a kids-sized desk and chair in this room as well as a carpet so that he can do his work in this room.

This cabinet serves as storage room for hangers for guest wardrobe and beddings.

Here is how it looks when it is being used as a mutli-purpose room for drying clothes :-)

Free Play Room

Apart from Montessori activities, free play and pretend play is still very important to provide a varied and well-rounded development for the child. As such, we kept J's original playroom downstairs. And it serves mainly as that - a Playroom, but not a Montessori Classroom. He can invite his friends to his Playroom, when he invites his friends over for play dates. Of course, his friends are allowed to his Bedroom-cum-Montessori Classroom too :-)

During the day when we are downstairs, he can also do his work in his Play Room, and thus we included a kids' size desk and chair.

We included a black board for some chalk fun.

Here is a close-up of the Expedit shelves containing the toy boxes.

Each compartment stores a theme toy box that can be rotated.

Clockwise from top: Lego Duplo, Lego Hospital, wooden blocks, wooden blocks again, Lego, Food and kitchen play stuff, wooden train set, art box, baby toys for guest, cutting work trays, swords, dress up boxes.

For more information on how we organized J's Play Room, please read this post.

It is hard work to design and implement your child's Work & Play Area, but it is also a lot of fun. Enjoy the journey. This post is for our memory. We will fine-tune as we go along and as J grows up.

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