If you ever feel like your child’s play area is overcrowded, muddled and hard to organise, you’re not alone. It can be tough trying to keep toys and activities together, and even tougher trying to find something to entertain a toddler despite being surrounded by possibilities.
Sometimes it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and simplifying the area makes it more welcoming and engaging – as well as being easier to keep tidy.
Montessori style playrooms or play areas in living rooms and bedrooms, create a streamlined space that feeds imagination and curiosity. They give kids the opportunity to develop and learn, make decisions, and explore.
You’ve probably heard about Montessori methods and play, but maybe not in a way that makes much sense.
It’s not actually a new idea. It was developed around a hundred years ago by Maria Montessori who wanted to give kids a way to develop their natural learning instincts and curiosity.
Her aim was to create a play environment that helped kids educate themselves, learning to make independent decisions, solve problems, fine tune their motor skills and become more confident and independent in the process.
All these years later, our hopes and aspirations for our kids is the same.
If you’ve got a whole spare room you can dedicate to play, that’s brilliant. But the same principles apply if you’re making space in a shared room or a bedroom.
Giving kids choice and autonomy over play means they need to be able to reach their things themselves. So, think of putting shelves, storage units or bookcases at a height they can reach without help.
As well as somewhere to store playthings, try and avoid having toys in boxes as far as possible. Obviously, some things are better kept in their box, like jigsaws for instance but even then, you can make sure the box is visible.
For the rest, have toys on shelves so they’re instantly accessible. It lets kids spot something, want to use it, and reach for it themselves. They don’t need help to either decide what to play with or be prompted. Enabling children to follow their curiosity and explore on their own is a big part of Montessori style playing and learning. That said, it’s fun to have you play with them too and share the discovery journey.
If possible, have an open play area too, and somewhere to sit quietly using child-sized furniture. Open play areas offer space on the floor to spread out, create buildings with blocks or make roads and railways. This type of activity develops critical thinking skills and quite complex problem solving in working out how to prevent towers tumbling or make a roadway travel from A to B.
Whether you go for bold bright colours in your decor or want something more neutral, the toys themselves should be the stars of the show. Try not to overwhelm the area with too much bright colour, although do use some because kids love vivid colours.
You can introduce cheerful splashes of colour on walls through art, decals, posters, or plants. It’s nice to include brightly coloured books displayed in low-level bookshelves, with some covers facing out to encourage reading.
A big part of Montessori play is to have items that engage the attention through physical interaction rather than simply waiting for the toy itself to do the work. While it’s perfectly ok to have battery operated items and other electronic gadgets for kids to use, try not to make these the majority.
The Montessori style range of toys is designed to get kids excited to explore and discover, with sensory experiences being important too. Montessori toys offer puzzles to solve, adventures to have, things to ride on or pull along, climbing toys and role-playing activities. There are dolls and their houses, vehicles and their garages, musical toys, slides and tents or tunnels. Or choose stacking toys, shape-sorting boxes or reading and colouring activities.
The range to choose from is huge but try not to offer too many all at once. A few items to choose from can make each one feel more special than if it’s just one among hundreds.
It can be a good idea to rotate the toys occasionally, depending on your child’s current interests or needs. You’ll soon see the kinds of activities they enjoy once they’re given free rein to choose for themselves.
One of the best things about designing a playroom around the Montessori method of play and learning, is that you don’t end up with an overwhelming muddle of toys to sort out. Another great thing is a benefit largely to parents – Montessori toys are beautiful, long-lasting, sustainable, and gloriously nostalgic whilst also managing to be thoroughly modern.
If you’re putting together a playroom for the first time or planning to revamp your existing play area, incorporating a few Montessori ideas will be win/win for you and your child.
Thanks for reading xxx
Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.
I really wanted a concrete place to share my love for travel, in particular Disney and offer my readers a chance to gain some knowledge around what we love to do as a family of 5.
I share our family adventures which include days out, travel advice and tips, holiday reviews, restaurant visits and of course, our love for Disney, including Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World.
Life is about creating memories, and here we are sharing them with you