When my eldest turned 2 years old and around the time my son was born, my dad made this shelf for my children. This was my daughter’s first actual Montessori inspired shelf. Prior to this, we just used our low rectangular coffee table (tray materials or puzzles on the top) and small baskets with different materials underneath. I also added a couple of baskets of blocks which were placed on the floor against the wall. So, one does not have to have a specific shelf to house Montessori materials, there is actually lots of different ways of displaying materials. I have to admit that I do love these shelves and I am sure they will be used for many years to come. We have definitely accumulated more materials since my second child was born though, some purchased but many passed on to us. At the moment my 2 year old son uses these shelves and has done since he was about 18 months of age. Prior to he was using some Infant toys/materials and shelf.
Excuse the grainy photo, but this is a recent photo of what is on my toddler’s shelf. I am not rotating materials as often and am not purchasing any more for him at this stage, as he will be able to use many of the materials that my 4 year old currently uses when he is ready. I also have been trying not to overlap the same materials that he works with in his Montessori toddler class he attends with me once a week. So, what is on these shelves? We have a wooden teaching clock really because my 4 year old isn’t using it at the moment and my 2 year old currently very interested in numbers. Next to that we have a small version of the Montessori knobbed cylinder blocks, a 4 piece Australian animal puzzle, a hammer and tap set, just missing the nails, a 5 piece wooden stacking blocks, a cow and pig jigsaw puzzle and a wire bead frame. Below is some pictures of what we have had on these shelves in the past.
Farm animals, trains and cars, wooden train track, duplo, wooden Melissa and Doug barn, lock/latch box, wooden teaching clock, some wooden blocks in the basket.
Narrow to wide puzzle, short to tall puzzle, spring peg number and colour toy, touch and feel sensory board, lock/latch box, wooden stacking boxes, Ikea shape sorting box, another peg toy without the hammer.
Sensory shape sorting, miniature musical instruments with matching cards, stacking boxes, coloured peg board, lock/latch box, shape sorting box, junior colorino, balance scales.
Number counting and colour sorting puzzle, sound blocks, narrow to wide and short to tall puzzles, lock/latch box, shape sorting box, wooden sensory shape sorting and occupational 3 piece puzzles (firefighter, lifeguard, policeman).
If you haven’t already read this post, I have previously written one on our inside Learning and Play Spaces although these areas have been tweaked a bit (de-cluttered/simplified) since I wrote this post.
One of my next posts I will go into more detail the type of materials you will often find in a Montessori infant and toddler classroom for more inspiration.