Planning a Montessori-Inspired Playroom

Hey Friends! Sorry it’s been quiet the last week around here. Between writing assignments, house projects and the onset of third trimester exhaustion, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to update. We’ve been trying to wrap up several projects before Eli comes in June. We’re about halfway finished with planking an accent wall in his nursery, which has been a slow and steady process. I’ve been trying to work on purging the house and though it’s a little embarrassing to admit this, we still have unpacking to do from our July move. I love my kitchen remodel (which I know I still haven’t shared with you because I honestly haven’t had time to take photos) but honestly, if I had known I’d get pregnant so quickly after moving, I may have held off on that awhile. We literally moved, remodeled the kitchen and got pregnant in about two months time which means the garage is still full of boxes and I haven’t really ironed out where everything goes yet.

The big project I had planned for this winter was the playroom, which is located in a bonus/loft area on our second floor between the bedrooms. Originally, we had planned on building something like this so the kids (I say “kids” collectively meaning our friends’ children, too…you know, our village kids) could have a place to burn energy during the winter.

Awesome, right? Yeah, well, the money we had budgeted for that project ended up getting used for several things that popped up during this seemingly endless winter. Plus, being stuck inside all winter made me really think about how we play each day and how the “village kids” learn from that play. I’ve always been very interested in Montessori principles and we have tried to incorporate them in our natural parenting style so I started researching how to set up a Montessori playroom. In case you’re not familiar with the Montessori principles of education, here’s a great post that sums it up better than I can.

This week, I’m working on setting up the space but here is a basic overview of the stations we’re creating with some inspiration art so you get an idea of what I have in mind:

1. Unit Study Shelf

On this shelf, I’ll be rotating out materials based on subjects we’re studying. For instance, Ada loves learning about the beach so an example “unit” will include a discovery box with sand and seashells, books on sea life, flash cards with fish and other fun ocean-related materials.

2. Play Kitchen

This area will include a play sink, stove, refrigerator and little grocery store. Maybe this sounds crazy but I looked everywhere trying to find play food that looks like things we actually eat in our house. I truly believe kids learn from play so even though it’s all pretend, I want to teach my kids to “shop” for healthy food. You can find great felt food with things like fruit, veggies and fish at Ikea for just $7.99 a set.

 

3. Dress-Up Station

Dress-up is sort of debated in terms of Montessori philosophy. From what I’ve read (and please remember I am not a professional) some interpretations believe it’s useless with little to no learning opportunities. Some folks embrace it and I’m one of them. I tend to believe that pretend play teaches a variety of skills from storytelling to the motor skills developed by zipping, snapping and dressing in costumes. It’s definitely a favorite activity at our house and a must-have station in our playroom. A lot of our costumes are homemade but I’ve built up this area over time by shopping Halloween sales, thrift stores and taking in much-appreciated hand-me-downs. I like to keep a variety of accessories like hats, play jewelry, reading glasses with the lenses popped out and other little goodies. All of this will be within the reach of the kiddos so they can play freely.

My inspiration for dress-up storage

 

4. Building Materials

I’ve purchased a few inexpensive shelves with cubbies that we’ll use for building materials like blocks, plastic cups, wood discs and things of that nature.

 

5. Art Station

You know this is a huge part of our day so I’ve devoted an entire closet to storing art supplies so I’m able to easily grab necessities for projects. We’ll be adding a larger art table to the center of the room so I can sit with the kids and create. I think this will be awesome for not only creating art projects but also for playing with things like shaving cream or discovery boxes filled with sand, rice or beans.

Well, that’s my plan. Now to make it happen! If you are looking for playroom ideas, check out my Playroom board on Pinterest. There’s all sorts of fun ideas!

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