The Montessori method is all about developing genuine interests and teaching your little one to play independently — and creating a Montessori playroom can help you achieve those goals.
Montessori-style playrooms aim to provide a clean, simple environment that encourages concentration and independent learning. They’re fantastic play spaces for children of varying ages, and they can be beneficial in a homeschool environment.
Read on to learn the basics of the Montessori method along with the essential elements of a Montessori playroom. It’s time to create a play space that’s as unique as your child’s personality.
About the Montessori method
The Montessori education method was developed by Maria Montessori, a physician and educator. Her programs began to attract attention in 1907, and by 1910, her schools were being established around the world and could be found throughout Western Europe. Today, you can find Montessori schools worldwide, and Montessori teaching methods are popular with public, private, and homeschool teachers alike.
The Montessori method aims to develop natural interests and activities — it deviates from formal teaching methods and instead focuses on independence. Montessori teachers believe that children naturally seek learning opportunities and initiate learning experiences in well-prepared environments.
What is a Montessori playroom?
Maria Montessori believed that the playroom should allow freedom of movement and include activities to encourage each child’s development. This means providing a safe play area with open space so the child can move around and interact with things freely.
If you look at Montessori classrooms or Montessori playroom tours, you’ll notice that no two are alike. But they do share elements that support Montessori-style learning, such as:
- A limited number of toys that promote engagement more than entertainment
- Well-organized, orderly spaces with toy storage
- Open space to explore and move
- A cozy space to help children feel comfortable
- Low shelving to display things nicely at a child’s level
- Variety of activities
The specific toys, activities, and cozy elements will vary based on your child’s age and preferences. Expect the toy box or shelves to look quite different from child to child.
For example, toys for Montessori toddlers might include wooden toys and puzzles that encourage sorting and stacking. Montessori toys for a 10-year-old would be quite different, with interest-based items like Legos, a pottery wheel, art supplies, or musical instruments. The idea is to encourage problem solving and independent engagement in either case.
Montessori playroom essentials
Embracing Montessori at home is easier than you might imagine. The design uses minimalist concepts to keep the child’s playroom as open and engaging as possible. You’ll add a limited number of toys and activities so that the space doesn’t become cluttered or overwhelming.
1. Choose a quiet, open space
You’ll need an open space that is safe and open, encouraging your child to explore, learn, and engage. Of course, a dedicated playroom is ideal, but you can also create a Montessori play space in your child’s bedroom or even a defined area of the living room.
The space you choose should be quiet and safe for your child to explore without supervision. Neutral-toned walls and easy-to-clean surfaces are best. You’ll also need room for Montessori shelves (i.e., appropriate shelving for your child’s height), toys, height-appropriate furniture, and maybe a climbing structure like a Pikler Triangle.
If you can, pick a room with lots of natural light and windows — this allows the child to discover changing natural lighting and shadows. You can keep the room well-lit and paint windows with nature views on the walls or hang paintings that simulate windows if natural lighting isn’t an option.
2. Add furniture
Once you know where to build the playroom, it’s time to add furniture. Kids like things that are their size, so look for small furniture to make them feel special. First, find a low shelving unit to display books, toys, and activities. Keeping this at your child’s level is crucial for teaching them to organize and maintain their space.
You’ll also likely want a mini table with child-size chairs. For example, the Rory 5-Piece Dining Set gives young children a spot to play, eat, draw, color, craft, and learn. It uses charming colors, smaller dimensions, and quality construction to keep little ones safe.
Meanwhile, older kids might like furniture that encourages practical life skills, such as a simple kitchen cart with water, snacks, and a towel to clean up messes.
3. Encourage physical activity
Children have too much energy to sit stationary all the time, so a Montessori playroom should encourage safe physical activity to get that energy out. This might mean adding a rocker, a Pikler triangle, a bed with a slide, and anything that encourages open-ended movement.
The Pikler triangle is popular in Montessori playrooms. It’s a good choice for babies as young as six months old, but you can use it for kids up to five or six years old. Pikler triangles are climbing frames that encourage children to build gross motor skills as they move, climb, crawl, hang, and play. As a bonus, they’re DIY-friendly if you’re handy.
Don’t forget an open space for spinning, jumping, crawling, running, and otherwise having fun. You might want to add a play mat to the center of the room. Keep any climbing structures and other active elements over the play mat but avoid crowding the surface.
4. Make it cozy
A cozy space helps children feel safe and comfortable, which is essential in a Montessori playroom. Of course, the entire room doesn’t need to be cozy, but a snuggly downtime area can help children feel relaxed.
Try creating coziness by adding a small reading nook with everything on your child’s level. Use natural materials and soft textures in the reading nook to help your child feel at ease. A pint-sized bookshelf is great for dedicated book storage if you have space. Alternatively, you try positioning the nook beside the primary shelving unit.
A small lamp and a basket containing blankets and pillows will give your child control over their comfort in this space. If your little one is old enough, consider asking them what type of reading nook would make them feel most at ease.
5. Add toys
The toys and activities in your child’s Montessori playroom should reflect their current interests and favorite ways to play. For example, your child might enjoy crafts, puzzles, toy cars, dinosaurs, or something else entirely.
Many Montessori-style playrooms emphasize wood toys and natural materials. These toys encourage engagement whereas toys that light up or make noise promote entertainment. Entertainment can distract your child while engagement helps them learn. That’s not to say that you should avoid plastic toys, but most Montessori playrooms avoid electronic toys.
In addition to toys for play, offer activities like puzzles, musical instruments, and coloring books. These help your child develop gross and fine motor skills, practical life skills, and problem-solving abilities. And don’t forget about DIY activities and toys that you can make from things around the house, such as a sensory table.
Rotating the activities and toys available to your child helps keep the items enticing. Make sure that what’s out on the shelves appeals to your child’s current interests, but don’t keep everything out at once.
The number of toys and activities on the shelves and how often you rotate your toys will depend on how your child plays. There’s no need for a schedule — if you notice a toy or activity that hasn’t been used for a week or two, switch it with a different one or something new.
6. Keep it organized
The final essential element for a Montessori playroom is organization, which relies on low shelving that your child can easily access.
Every toy and activity in the play area should have a place on the shelves. When you introduce something new to your child, show them where it is on the shelf and direct them to put it back when they’re done. For younger children, you’ll likely spend time with them in their playroom every day to put things back in their places.
This approach teaches your child to take care of their personal space, considering neatness and order. It might sound impossible but the Montessori method tends to inspire children to crave this type of environment in a healthy, thoughtful way. Take a look at 9 room organization ideas for a clean, kid-friendly space.
Create a fun, nurturing space for your child
As you create your child’s Montessori playroom, be selective about the furniture, toys, and activities you include. Avoid a cluttered environment and create a space that allows freedom of movement and exploration.
When you think of each component as an essential part of how your child will learn and grow, it’s easier to decide what to include.
To help bring your Montessori playroom to life, take a look through Coaster Furniture’s selection of kids bedroom furniture. When you’re ready to buy, use the store locator to find a convenient retailer near you.
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