We made the decision to homeschool. We tried having our classroom in one area of the living room. It worked well, until we decided to go the Montessori route. Then, it didn't work at all.
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I knew that in order to create a successful learning environment I would need to change the colors of the walls and involve the three older kiddos in every aspect of the planning, preparation, and action. This would ensure a positive transition experience and an environment that would be pleasing to everyone's senses.
Choosing a Color Scheme
I presented the kiddos with three color scheme choices, using Pottery Barn magazines. (I LOVE Pottery Barn!)
Choice 1: Gray or cream walls with red, orange and black accents.
Choice 2: Cream or light yellow walls with navy blue, white & yellow accents.
Choice 3: Light teal walls with accents of white, navy blue and a darker teal.
Painting LessonsI wanted to make sure that all of the kiddos could help paint. Our local paint store had Mini Rollers which were the perfect size for little hands. This was the ultimate practical life activity!
The kiddos were given a lesson in painting, and then wall to paint. They started in the closet, which had never been painted in the 8 years we've lived in this home. My husband and I supervised. In the end, the kiddos painted the entire closet and one wall of the actual room. I know they'll be helping us paint many more rooms in the future.
Setting up the Classroom
Once the room was painted it was time to move in furniture and materials!!! Everyone was so excited for this part. The room turned out beautifully.
Our ShelvesIn our classroom, we have only 3 sets of bookshelves, due to space limitations. Each shelf is used for a different subject. Activities on the shelves are changed out weekly or every two weeks. This occurs because of space limitations, but also as a result of the kiddos' rigid ritualistic and stemming behaviors.
On the top of our bookshelves I make available the sandpaper letter cards for the letters we're working on during the week, a globe for exploration when studying geography and culture, a plant, and workbook materials.
Workbooks are not a part of the Montessori curriculum. However, I keep them in the classroom for two reasons:
- My children will need to fill out endless amounts of paperwork during their lifetime. Learning how to follow directions on a page, answer questions, etc. is a Practical Life activity in my mind.
- There are some days when they prefer workbook tasks over activities on our shelves. If they want to complete a few pages of their choice, why not!
Our Reading CornerOur reading corner is simple, just a bookshelf and bean bag, but it works perfectly in our small space. Since we don't have room for our own personal library, I borrow 12-18 books from our local library each week that relate to our theme. The kiddos look forward to the new books. I love the variety our local library provides.
Our Peace CornerIf the kiddos aren't reading during their break, I can usually find one in our peace corner. This was a priority in our new classroom. They designed it themselves.
To ensure the space would work, the kiddos selected the mat, pillows, and blankets used in our peace corner. They also selected a bin to house their anxiety kit and fidget toys, to use when needed. I can not tell you how much this peace corner has helped the kiddos. Every classroom should have one!
Piano booksAdding finishing touches to our classroom, has made all the difference in how it functions. The kiddos are taking piano lessons this year. Their music books and practice sheets are stored in an adorable wire rack next to the window.
Our new calendar was created using a simple bulletin board. I wanted to make sure I could change it each month according to our theme. This month we're studying the universe. I created number cards with planets on them, and then included a calendar of the moon's cycle this month to follow. We're also working on memorizing scriptures and Articles of Faith, so I've included that.
The other bulletin board in our classroom is used as our prayer wall. For more information about the prayer wall idea, be sure to visit The Chaos and the Clutter, the first place I read about it.
I LOVE our prayer wall. Not only is it helping our kiddos when saying prayers, but it's a very unique display of what matters most to them. They love their family, both immediate and extended. Prayers are said daily on behalf of family members. We have friends who are experiencing medical challenges right now. The kiddos really do care and pray for them every day.
Curtains and Montessori MatsOur final touch was our Montessori mats and curtains! Each kiddo picked out their own mat and cast a vote for curtains. They've used them constantly. One might not think they're important, but I assure you, they are.
Updates: Since this post was written, we have added a fish tank to our classroom. You can read about all of adventures below:
If you're interested in other ways we've created Montessori spaces in our home, be sure to check out these posts!