Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Classroom Tour-Fall 2013

A mini tour of our classroom...
We have a walk-out basement that is in part finished and we dedicate this space to Montessori school at home. I "walked" around on my knees to take these shots because somehow as a 4" tall individual, the space feels a lot larger. (I also walked around on my knees a lot when I planned this space.)
NOTES: I didn't clean up for these shots. This is a little disorganized, but that is how it gets and we bits of cleaning up as we go. Also, as I am sure most other classrooms are too, this is kind of a work in progress. We don't have everything out because we haven't gotten there yet, or don't yet need it all, or it is too big to have as a permanent fixture in our space, like the million cube. I'll try to do a second tour, if I remember, in the spring. What I've listed below isn't an exhaustive list of what is on the shelves. AND, although I have an elementary age child, who is doing some elementary work, most of what we have out is for Primary and pre-primary because the lower el child is currently reviewing and filling in the gaps, and likes a little more hand-holding and a little less, free exploration. We made all the light wooden shelving ourselves out of 1X12 premium pine. I didn't finish it with anything. It was a bit of work, and kind of expensive, (like $700 for 22ish linear feet) but we were able to make the best use of our space since each is a custom length. Also, sorry about the pictures, this lens captures a wider angle, but isn't as "fast."
Cubbies and materials shelves. Cubbies are NOT organized, but since we are on a different level, and we end up with a lot of artwork, handwriting practice, work plans, math-notebooks, science journal stuff, etc. I needed a place to keep it all. The kids each have their own set of watercolors and Prisma colored pencil set, which is labeled and store here. The other shelves are for our project materials. Not a complete list, but we have: yarns, long register tape, waxed paper, contact paper, heavy duty foil, parchment, and plastic wrap and our science goggles on the first shelf. (I just didn't want to have to run up the stairs each time to borrow from the kitchen.) We have a acrylic paint collection with a mug of paintbrushes, (foam, stencil, watercolor, acrylic, etc.) wire, twine, rope, sponges, small containers of rubber bands, balloons, paper clips, q-tips, craft sticks, straws, pipe-cleaners, foam balls, wood balls, tacks, etc. an accordion folder with star stickers, wall putty, and index cards, stamps, and cutters are all on the second shelf. I've used a 9' cake pan as a lazysusan for the paint supplies. And for the top shelf, there is a mug with colored and black pencils, (the Prisma sets didn't come with pink or grey), glues of all kinds, tapes of all kinds, scissors, rulers, erasers, and small kitchen items like bowls, cups, mugs, pitchers, pinch bowls, etc. for non-food uses. And the top of the book case is my stash of other stuff, finger paints, and liquids, like spray adhesive, plant fertilizer, tempra paints, wood glue, etc.
At the far end of the bookshelf, there is a wooden "play freezer" we had gotten from Nova Naturals. On top is our water, pitcher, silverware, and snack. Inside is towels, serving ware, bowls and plates for food, and linen cloths that have been cut into small sized pieces.
We got a wonderful, and expensive, table from Community Play things, and the chairs are from there too. Well worth the investment. We are lucky enough to have plumbing and a sink in the basement area that we use all the time. The shelves above the sink are to store my stuff. The doors under the sink store next to nothing. We have a separate storage room in the basement (behind that wall in fact) where I store our other supplies.
This is our math area. I just affixed the bead cabinet to the wall. We have quite the gamut of materials, from golden beads to the checkerboard. It covers what we are working on right now. To the left, is the stamp game, and the bead decanomial layout. Addition strip board, dot game, LBF, snake games, hundred board, and concentric figures round it out. There is some of my stuff at the top too, I need to get this off the shelf and above the bead cabinet on those shelves.
This is our science island. This side is the botany side...and our growing stuff is on the bottom shelf. The Jiffy mix, pails, a pitcher, small containers, seeds, potting mix, and mixing utensils are all in one place. On the top shelf, we have a few of the Elementary Botany materials out, books about plants, and the Primary puzzles, and Botany cabinet with cards out too. On the top of the island we have our grow light and some seedlings under it. A work in progress.
The older ones use the small table as a kneeling table, but the small chair is for D. He is almost getting too big for it. The chair is a toddler chair from Community Play things, and the table is from Ikea and we cut the legs down. In the opposite corner is for sensorial.
On this side of the island are the Zoology materials. Books, primary puzzles, parts nomenclature cards, and a few elementary nomenclature materials live here. The bottom shelf was going to be for history, but we haven't gotten there yet.
This is our language area. I had originally thought that it would be equal to the math section, but since starting the Dwyer method, we've simplified greatly the number of materials we need. This is not in left to right, top to bottom order because D isn't tall enough to reach the top shelves with the metal insets. It sort of goes, middle, bottom, top. And because I've made most things in cursive, that is what we have on the shelves. So, we have, middle; papers, insets, bottom; cursive moveable alphabet, cursive sandpaper letters,; sound cards, sound families (not Dwyer) sound folders, more paper, and then early readers and chapter books.
Our sensorial area. On the top of the right-hand shelf, I've put some craft or advanced practical life materials, in this case decoupage. D can't reach this. There is our manual pencil sharpener on the far right. On the left side, I try to rotate these out every week if not sooner. Right now we have egg-shell grinding, water dropping, sponge transfer, and smelling. The bottom shelf, we have the fraction skittles (which always fall down...) geometric solids, and labels and command cards for the geometry cabinet and geometric solids, and lastly the geometry cabinet.
This is our geography area. One of our pin maps is on the top left with the sandpaper and continents globe. Underneath is the map cabinet. To the right is the land and water forms, S's state flower study, books, and the flag cards of each continent. On the bottom is our floor rugs, and they are there because I hadn't found a better place for them. To the far left, is our peace area. The child can go there and sit rolled up in a blanket and just take a breather when he/she needs to. I plan to add music with head phones and maybe a book of famous paintings.  And they can come away from that area when they need to.
Behind our pass-through practical life/sensorial area is the sand table. Lots of fun for D and lots of fun to vacuum.
And that is about it. For now. Outside, we have a green area where they like to rake, plant bulbs, and collect leaves. I feel there is still so much to be done to this space even though there is so much that has already been done. Is it perfect? No. But it works for now.
If you have questions, just e-mail me.


  1. What a lovely space. Love how you've combined primary and elemntary!

  2. Looks wonderful! I've been wanting to make some shelving. How did you do yours?

    1. We used 1"X12" pine premium pine boards and drywall screws. I countersank all screws so that they'd lay flush. We also used 1X3 stringers, under the longer-than-three-feet-shelves. And I did a flush-to-the-front kick plate out of 1X3...just because I forgot to do it the other way, and it because it makes vacuuming a little easier. Also to the back of all the units, we screwed in a double thickness of cotton twill tape. It is 1" wide, and you can get in the sewing notions section of the craft store, or in our case, I think I got it from Joanne fabrics, or Walmart. Anyway, we screwed this into the rear of the top shelf, in the middle such that a "tag" portion was sticking up over the top of the shelf. We then screwed this tab to a stud in the wall so that the shelving units will not tip over. The island is made of two units I screwed together via the stringers underneath. And the perpendicular unit, I L-bracketed this to the unit that is up against the wall. I did not cut out the bottom rear to accommodate for moldings. I think the tallest are 40" and the lower ones are 32". And each is a custom length, I think the longest is 5' and the shortest is 27ish". I chose to not finish the shelves with anything, so they are just natural for now. We'll see how long they hold up! Oh, I think total cost was somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 and we made 8 units. Hope that helps!

  3. LOVE your classroom!!! Many blessings!!!