Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Montessori Containers

This weekend Matt and I swung by our favorite old-timey shop. I wouldn't describe it as an antique store because it's so laid-back (they let us bring Hoss in) and everything is so cheap, but, officially, it's an antique shop.

I found two ceramic pieces to add to our "collection." I didn't realize we had a collection, but apparently I'm really attracted to the color of these pieces. I am now the proud owner of eight vases, pots, and little bowls.

I also bought a simple wood box (made from old root beer containers). We spent $20 on all three pieces. One of the pieces is clearly a plant pot, but the other two I plan to use to hold random things in the baby's room.

In Montessori environments, we use lots of little containers to give everything its own place. We tend to avoid large catch-all baskets that are common in many children's rooms because Montessori believed that younger children are in a sensitive period for order. We can help cultivate their sense of physical order (which helps create neural pathways for mental order) by creating orderly environments. The children learn that everything has a place and when they are finished using something, they restore it to its rightful place.

As a Montessori teacher, this means I always need lots of random baskets and containers of all shapes and sizes. In general, I'm the kind of person who only buys something if I have a specific use for it, but when it comes to baskets and containers for the classroom, I prefer to buy them and have a large collection on hand to choose from as needed. I figured the same principle would be useful for the baby's room, as we start to collect toys and such.

Another tenet of Montessori is to use natural materials--like glass and wood--instead of plastics. That's why I bought three sea-grass baskets to hold Coconut's books (one for fiction, non-fiction, and public library books).

It's so fun!

I'm already thinking that I can make these bean bags to put in the wooden box and make felt balls to put in the bowl. Hooray!

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bklyn76 said...

gorgeous containers! we have a chain of dollar stores here that have some interesting and unique *vessels* made from ceramic, glass, wood, straw that i bought for my classrooms.

those bean bags are beautiful. it's crazy how a little square of pretty fabric can change something so ordinary.

Heather said...

I'm so intrigued by this. When I was little my parents couldn't understand how it was so difficult for me to clean my room. They didn't understand why I couldn't just throw all the toys in the toy box and be done. I remember reading The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, and insisting that I needed a shoe box for everything so they could all be labeled and neatly stacked. To this day, I can't just clean; I have to organize.
Every time you post something about Montessori I find I want to know more.

Meg said...

Hey! I read Matty's blog and some how stumbled over to yours! I am a public school kindergarten teacher but I am always drawn to Montessori teaching and learning more about her pedagogy! I enjoyed your explanation of the containers and baskets and now I see what they do some of the things that they do. I used to observe in a Montessori pre school below our school and I always had so many questions!
I have tea parties with my grandson now and we always use my daughter's old tea set which is real china and it just makes sense that he would respect it because it's made from china and not plastic!
Thanks so much for this post!
I can't wait to hear more about Coconut :) !

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