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Creating functional Montessori-inspired living spaces with older kiddos is always a challenge. It seems once I figure out one aspect of a room, something else doesn't work anymore, and it's back to the drawing board. However, when it comes to the boys, I think I've finally created a Montessori-inspired bedroom space that works for them and me. Elementary aged kiddos love to see the big picture in all aspects of their lives, including play. They are not at all satisfied with a small basket of random LEGO pieces, separated from their large collection to play with. The separation limits their ability to explore and create, and actually interrupts their learning process, at least in this house that's the case.
I've searched Pinterest several times for inspirational Montessori-inspired bedrooms for elementary aged kiddos with no luck. Today I will attempt to show you how we've incorporated Montessori in the home past the preschool years. Dinomite and Bulldozer are 8 and 7 years old.
If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a HUGE fan of Pottery Barn Kids. I've always loved their stuff, but it wasn't until after Bulldozer was born that we found a NEED to purchase furniture and other items from the store. Bulldozer could and did destroy everything he could get his hands on as a toddler We went on a desperate search to find a place where we could purchase furniture and other items for his room and other areas in the house that he couldn't destroy. Pottery Barn Kids has those items. The boys may ding them up, scratch them or color them, but it takes more energy than they have to destroy them. The process of creating a space that works for the boys has been very expensive, but worth every penny. So if you notice way too many items from Pottery Barn Kids, now you know why. I am not an affiliate of Pottery Barn Kids and receive no rewards or commission for advertising their products. The only reason I'm providing links is so that interested readers can find the products quickly.
When you walk through the door into Dinomite and Bulldozer's room, this is what you see.
The room is divided into two parts. You'll notice a blue book rack on Dinomite's side of the room and a red book rack on Bulldozer's side. Both boys love how easy it is to select books to read and put them away. I love the independence the racks provide. Even at three years old, Bulldozer was able to take all of his books off the racks, and then put them all away.
Each boy has their own play table and work space. It's a little bit difficult to see, but they also each have a chair, in case they prefer to sit down. Tables have been adjusted to the boys' heights. Toddler play tables no longer work as the boys are getting older. Each morning, before breakfast, the boys are asked to pick up their room. I find that they are too tired and unfocused at night to complete the task independently. Dinomite and Bulldozer know that their beds must be made, dirty laundry taken care of, and toys and books returned to their appropriate places. If they are not finished playing or working at their tables, they are welcome to leave necessary items out, as long as the rest of the room is picked up and everything they need is on their table. They LOVE not having their "work" interrupted.
The boys each have a special shelf above their book racks to keep treasures and other special items of importance. Shelves are high to prevent injury and to keep other siblings away from them. Both boys know they can use a chair in their room to reach any items they might need, on their own.
The curtains in the boys' room are easy to open and close without assistance. This may seem simple an silly, but it makes a HUGE difference. If the sun is bothering boys during play, they can solve the problem themselves. At night, they can prepare their room for sleep on their own. When they want to create a dark play environment, they can easily use the black out curtains to set the scene.
Other items on their walls include a picture of Christ and a picture of a temple at the boys' level. Bulldozer's Uncle Milton Moon In My Room also hangs on the wall, where Bulldozer specified. It comes with a remote control for easy play and night time lighting. If you have a kiddo who loves learning about the phases of the moon, this is a great gift.
If you turn to the left, when you enter the boys' room, you'll see Dinomite's side of the room.
His bed is purposely simple, composed of a box spring and mattress on the floor, with fitted waterproof mattress pad, fitted sheet, quilt, pillow, and pillow case. The bed is at the perfect height to enable Dinomite complete independence while making or stripping his bed for washing. Eliminating a flat sheet and other blankets, makes the process of making the bed MUCH easier and therefore more successful in nature. In the winter when it's colder, we replace the light quilt with a down-alternative comforter.
Another reason for the lack of bed frame and headboard is to provide a safe outlet for sensory input when needed. I have no issues with my kiddos jumping on their beds, especially if it helps regulate them. I don't have to worry about anything breaking or them hurting themselves due to sharp corners, edges etc. With the bed lower to the ground, I also don't have to worry about them hitting their heads on the ceiling.
On Dinomite's side of the room, you'll also notice the boys' basketball hoop we've had for years. Other than the rim bending a bit as Dinomite tried to do a slam dunk a few years back, it's in excellent condition. The boys love to play together. Once again it's a way for them to receive sensory input when needed, while having fun. You'll notice it's on the opposite wall from the windows, for added safety.
The boys' small closet is on Dinomite's side of the room as well. We'll go into more detail about that further along in the post.
Bulldozer's side of the room looks a little different
For the past few months, Bulldozer has gone on and on about how he wants to be a chef. He enjoys playing with our beautiful kitchen set and accessories more than anyone else in the house. The only issue he ever has is not having the ingredients he needs for his recipes. Lol. He's already picked out some new felt food to put on his wishlist.
The kitchen set was a therapeutic gift for the three kiddos after Princess was adopted. All those who came to adoption festivities gave money for kitchen set in lieu of gifts. We specifically chose this kitchen set because it had absolutely no adhesives on it, therefore being 100% safe for Bulldozer to play with, and could withstand Bulldozer's toddler destructive tendencies. Four years later, it's still works beautifully!
We use felt foods for safety reasons. Bulldozer LOVED to throw things and watch them fly through the air when he was a baby and toddler. Felt foods don't hurt when they hit you. All of the foods are stored in the refrigerator when not in use. Some of our favorite felt food sets include: Melissa & Doug Felt Food - Pizza Set, Pottery Barn Kids' Thanksgiving Dinner Set, and Cupcake Set.
Our 2 Green Toys Cookware and Dining Sets work perfectly with our kitchen set. They are indestructible! And yes, they do hurt when hit by them, but not as badly as one might think. Other items you see Bulldozer playing with in his room include his: Melissa & Doug Architectural Unit Block Set and HABA Marble Run Starter Set, along with his marble collection.
I couldn't resist sharing an up close picture of Bulldozer at work in his kitchen all suited up in his Curious Chef attire.
It has always been a goal to put two sets of shelves in the boys' room to further create a Montessori environment. Just six months ago had I them picked out and everything. However, the thought of putting ALL of their toys in their room with Bulldozer's dumping tendencies and need for visual stimulation is a recipe for disaster. I just couldn't go through with it. The kitchen set went in the space prepared for the shelving. Instead of shelves, I've done the next best thing.
Princess' room has the only closet with storage room in the house. Once we finished doing foster care, I converted it into our toy storage closet, with some room for Princess' clothes.
Our Montessori-inspired closet shelving and play system promotes order and cleanliness. It helps the kiddos become independent as they make decisions about their play and clean up, without being overwhelmed by having everything out at once. Color coding helps both the boys and I know who's things are who's. Over the past year, the boys are finally at a place where they can share their toys with each other and enjoy the process. At times I may see Bulldozer with a blue bin or Dinomite with a red bin. More often, I see them sharing the same bin, especially the large LEGO bin. I believe these sharing behaviors developed because they have access to all of their things all the time, enabling them to plan out their playtime together. Eventually, when most of the toy bins disappear, and are replaced with more books, collectible items, music, and media devices, it will be much easier to have Montessori shelves in the boys' room with individual trays or baskets for their things. But for now, I don't want to think about that, because it will mean my boys are growing up way too fast.
I mentioned the boys' closet briefly earlier in this post and am now ready to go more into more detail. The closet originally had a long pole to hang up clothes, out of the children's reach with four shelves on one side. Only an adult could reach the hangers. Now a 2 Sterilite 3-Drawer Medium Cart sits on each side of the closet to hold socks, ties, underwear, bathing suits, and pajamas. Church clothes sit on top of the cart.
The boys' room is simple. I may be overstating things that seem obvious. However, planning and organizing a child's room feels like such a complicated process. When children share a room it's even harder. Using fundamental Montessori principles has made the process so much easier, even when I can't do exactly what I'd like to due to sensory, safety, and space issues. Letting the boys guide the process, emphasizing independence and accessibility, and maintaining flexibility as the needs of the boys change over time allows for the creation of a beautiful, child-centered, organized living space that contributes to the overall harmony at home.
Welcome to the Learn & Play Link Up!!!
Last week I was unable to write a post and feature some fabulous activities due to my computer dying. As a result, this week I'm featuring posts from two weeks ago. In honor of my boys' I've featured posts that highlight some of their favorite things. I hope you enjoy!
LEGO Learning: Awesome LEGO Science Projects from Brain Power Boy
Free Superhero Pack from 3 Dinosaurs
Car Sight Word Knock-Down from Hands On As We Grow
Montessori Inspired Transportation Unit from Mama's Happy Hive
Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
- Montessori Education
- Sensory Play
- Tot and Preschool Trays
- Fine and Gross Motor Activities
- Kids in the Kitchen
- Healthy Recipes for Kids
- Arts and Crafts
- Natural Living
- Free Educational Printables
- Family-Oriented Activities
- Healthy Living
Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
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- Please link up 1-3 posts
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