Many families of young children are turning to Montessori methods when it comes to parenting. After all, it’s one approach that honours children as autonomous beings and gives them the respect they are due. Our exclusive range of baby nursery products will help create the perfect baby nursery for your baby.
But how can we make space for our children in our homes without the place becoming one giant toy bin?
What Is a Montessori Playroom?
Nothing is set in stone, but in general, a Montessori playroom:
- is simple with a limited number of toys/activities
- has everything displayed nicely at the child’s level
- include some open space
- uses toys that promote engagement over entertainment
- has a set place for items to create order/routine
- mixes in a variety of activities
- is a cozy space that your child will enjoy
Simple Ways to Create a Montessori Play Space at Home
Montessori playrooms are often simple, with a limited number of toys/activities for the child.
Having a limited number of activities allows the child to focus better and master moves, rather than jumping from activity to activity without ever completing or getting them.
Most Montessori guides recommend around 8-10 activities in your playroom, which we’ve found to be a perfect number for our little one.
But what do you do if you have more than 8-10 toys? A toy rotation is a perfect solution for this and will help keep your child engaged with their activities.
We rotate out toys about once per week on average – keeping a few on the shelf that she’s engaging with and working on mastering and rotating out the others that aren’t being used as much.
Activities at Child’s Height
Everything that the child can use in their playroom should be at their level to both see it and be able to easily reach it (allowing them to pick it out and put it back when finished).
Because we want the child to engage with their Montessori toys and activities, the Montessori approach always has them on display (rather than hidden away in a toy box).
Many companies sell playroom shelving units for young children.
On top of having activities displayed at the child’s height, it’s also recommended that artwork and plants or flowers are at a height that allows them to appreciate them.
Open Space for Movement
If your home allows for it, open space in the playroom is great for promoting gross motor skills.
Allowing your child to have space in your home that they can move around, climb, and explore is extremely important – especially early in life.
Leave ample open space in the middle of your kid’s playroom where your little one can not only use his/her activities but also allows us to build climbing spaces.
Again, your open space for gross motor work doesn’t necessarily have to be in your main Montessori play space if you don’t have the room for it, but it’s essential to create somewhere in the home to develop the gross motor skills.
Toys That Promote Engagement
Have you noticed that a lot of Montessori style playrooms use a lot of wooden toys?
There’s a reason for that, and it’s the same reason you don’t see many plastic or battery-operated toys that light up and sing.
The toys that light up and make noise seem significant as they keep kids entertained and distracted, but they often don’t do much good for them (besides keeping them engaged and distracted).
You can get the same effect with age-appropriate toys that aren’t battery operated and don’t sing and light it up to distract the child, and at the same time develop their fine or gross motor skills.
Montessori playroom activities are carefully selected and usually include various activities such as puzzles, practical life, language activities and books, musical instruments, artwork, and activities that work on different skills (fine and gross motor, problem-solving, concentration, etc.).
Many Montessori parents like to choose toys made from natural materials (such as wood) because they are environmentally friendly, long-lasting, and beautiful.
But with that said, plastic activities can be much more budget-friendly and can work if you choose toys or activities that serve a purpose!
Don’t forget about DIY activities, which can often be free to make from lying around your house and great for the child’s development.
Give Everything a Place in the Playroom
Children thrive with order and routine. The best thing to do with your playroom is to give everything a place in the room and keep things there.
Of course, you can rearrange your playroom from time to time, but the idea is not to have toys and activities scattered all over the place in different places each time your child comes into the room.
This is also a great way to teach your child about cleaning up after themselves. If a toy or activity has a place on the shelf, you can help them put it back in that same spot (and they will probably enjoy doing so).
Continue to demonstrate putting things back in their spot, and so when you ask him/her to “please put your activity back on the shelf if you’re done using it”, she’ll light up with a big smile and put it back in its place.
Montessori Playrooms ensure that the child has a variety of different activities to choose from.
This could include vertical stackers, horizontal stackers, puzzles, musical instruments, pull toys, threading toys, etc.
There are many options to choose from out there, and the idea is that the child can work on a few different skills each week.
This also doesn’t mean that every single toy has to work on a different skill.
A big part of the Montessori Method is observation, and this comes into play with choosing the different activities to set out for your little one.
If you notice your child is engaging with puzzles, maybe you set out two or three different puzzles on your next toy rotation.
Or if they are having a tough time with a threading toy and it looks like they aren’t ready for it, maybe you put that away for a few weeks and mix a stacker toy in the rotation.
Lastly, but just as important as the rest, is that your playroom is a cozy space that you and your child can enjoy spending time in!
This will look different for all Montessori families, but you’ll like that you have some natural light in our play space, a small comfy couch to sit and read or snuggle on, some artwork and an excellent plant on the shelf.
Do whatever works for you and your family to make your space cozy!
Make a Floor Bed
There is so much research on how talking to your baby and playing with your baby is the best thing for their development.
The floor bed is a great place to hang out, read books, let your baby crawl over you, practice tummy time, and be.
Also, it creates a designated area for babies to hang out and explore independently.
For the floor, bed use a full-size mattress topper, then surround the mattress with body pillows so your toddler could move around without rolling into a wall.
As an alternative to a mattress topper or bed, you could do non-toxic play tiles with no bedding.
Important: If you plan to use this as a place for a baby to nap or if you have a baby who can not yet turn over, you might want to skip the pillows — as they can be a suffocation hazard. As always, while this space can encourage independent play, it is not meant for unsupervised play.
Hang Some Baby Art
For a younger baby, we recommend high-contrast art (black, white, and red patterns). If you have a toddler, some cute ABC cards would be a fun addition.
The visual system is the last sensory system to develop in babies and is the most immature at birth. Black and white patterns will capture a baby’s attention and also stimulate their visual system.
Be sure you hang them low so that if your baby were on their tummy, they would be able to see the pictures. Ta-Da! Baby art installation!
Hang a Horizontal Mirror
Looking in a mirror is so entertaining for a baby!
Research shows that babies don’t reliably recognise themselves in the mirror until they are about 15–months old!
This is another excellent tummy time activity. Babies love looking at human faces more than anything else, which is necessary for them to learn about emotions and social cues.
Include a Baby Gym
Jean Piaget, a well-known child psychologist, described the first stage of cognitive development as the “Sensorimotor” period.
During this time, babies experience the world through movement and their senses. They move through the world, taking it all in through their feelings in a haphazard, almost accidental, way.
And as they grow, they begin to realise that their movements cause exciting reactions.
Soft Bins for Toys and Books
When your baby is a little older and is sitting up on her own, she will love to take things in and out of baskets and bins.
This is quite entertaining.
For your play area, have a few soft bins like these with your favourite baby toys and many books.
Reading is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s cognitive development other than face-to-face talk and play with you.
The other great thing is that these will work perfectly when your child is older to create all of those lovely Montessori invitations to play with, like toy animals in one bin and animal cards in the other.
The invitation is for your toddler to match the items. Check out our range of baby nursery products and furniture for all your baby needs.
Have a Child-Friendly Shelf or Cabinet in the Kitchen.
This is one of the simplest ways to encourage your children to be independent and show that you trust them.
They start when your children are toddlers and continue until they can reach and use everything the adults do; set aside a small cabinet or drawer in your kitchen just for them.
This is where you will keep child-sized plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and perhaps even a few cloth napkins.
This will allow your children to get what they need whenever they need it. You won’t need to stop what you are doing to help them, and they can feel good about doing something for themselves.
Want to take it a step further? Keep pre-portioned snacks in the cabinet for your child to access whenever they want.
Some families also designate an area of the refrigerator for this purpose, along with a minor pitcher containing water or milk that little hands can quickly pour themselves.
Consider a Few Minor Additions to Your Entryway.
Getting out the door in the morning can be one of the most rushed and sometimes stressful times of day for families of young (and older!) children.
A few quick additions to your entryway can help make everything run a bit more smoothly.
Consider your children’s height and hang one or two hooks near the door just for them. Keep a small box or bin that they can toss their shoes into, thus keeping shoes contained, tidy, and easy to find when they need them.
We have even seen some families hang a small mirror at child height in the same area. Taking these steps will help build responsibility, keep your home organised, and ease the frantic pace of many of our mornings.
Put Most of the Toys Away.
This recent study covers the scientific reasoning behind why less is more. That said, it isn’t easy.
Even if you are mindful of not buying your children too many toys (a feat in itself), there are always gifts from family members, party favours, and so many unpredictable little treasures that kids collect.
How can we manage all that stuff?
When your child is at an age at which they can comprehend the ideas, it’s good to talk to them about waste and consumption and then ask for their help in managing it all.
Until then, observe your child at play, determine what they actually use or enjoy, then rotate toys according to what you notice.
Avoid the bottomless toy box and opt instead for using low shelves as storage so that items are easier to see and manage.
Keep Baskets of Books Handy.
Reading is excellent for children in so many ways, so keeping books handy wherever you are is essential. It can even be fun to make your selections. Some ideas:
- Keep a basket of seasonal books in the corner of your living room.
- Stack your toilet learning books in the bathroom.
- Does your child love dinosaurs? Check some dino books out from the library and keep them in a bag in the car, so they’re always on hand (for trips, waiting rooms, an older sibling’s soccer game…)
- Basically, anywhere your child spends time, and there isn’t a bookshelf nearby, collect up a few books and tuck them within reach.
Build Independence Into Children’s Bedrooms.
One of the earliest ways to build independence into your children’s bedrooms is with your choice of bed when they are infants.
Many Montessori families choose to use a floor bed. If the rest of the child’s room is safe, this allows them freedom of movement when they wake.
Many babies and toddlers will wake up and crawl/walk around the room, keeping themselves occupied with their toys until their parents wake up and come to get them.
The floor bed can be implemented whenever the parents feel comfortable giving it a try.
If your little one starts crawling out of the crib but isn’t quite ready for the height of a toddler or regular bed, a simple solution is just to lay the mattress on the floor until they are prepared for the next stage.
Another area to keep in mind: your children’s access to their clothing. Older toddlers and preschool-aged children can begin selecting their clothes.
By making a limited number of choices available to them, you can ensure they will wear something appropriate for the weather while still giving them the empowering ability to decide for themselves.
Keep Color Schemes and Decor Simple and Natural.
Depending on our childhoods and other factors, sometimes we feel like we need to decorate children’s spaces in bright colours.
The truth is, we all function better in calming environments.
There’s no need to spend lots of money to replace what you already have, but consider the following swaps:
- Paint over bright walls with a more neutral colour.
- Opt for wood, glass, metal, and natural fibres over plastics.
- Framed art (inexpensive prints or thrift store finds) or photos can replace cartoon posters.
Make Space for Your Children.
It all comes down to shifting our perspective. Our children are human beings who are worthy of living in a home that serves them and their needs.
The key is balance.
Should our children’s things take over the entire house? Not! (You live there, too, after all.) Minor adjustments in each room children spend time in can make a huge difference in their lives.
Frequently Asked Montessori Playroom Questions
What Is a Montessori Playroom?
A Montessori playroom is a simple, clean space with a limited number of carefully selected age-appropriate toys designed to help the child develop skills such as their fine and gross motor skills. It is a place that promotes engagement rather than just providing entertainment.
How Can I Make My Playroom Montessori Friendly?
To ensure your playroom fits the Montessori approach, we would recommend making everything accessible to the child with child-friendly furniture, limit the number of activities to around 8-10 at any given time to promote focus and choose toys that encourage engagement and development.
Why Do Montessori Playrooms Use Wood Toys?
Wooden toys are often used in Montessori Playrooms because wood is a natural, beautiful and long-lasting material.
The wooden toys that Montessori Playrooms choose usually have a purpose for development, unlike many battery-operated toys that are more for entertainment. My Baby Nursery has a huge range of baby toys for your baby room.
What Should I Include in My Montessori Playroom?
If you are creating a Montessori Playroom, you should include:
- Child-sized furniture.
- Nature (flowers or plants).
- Open space.
- Activities that help the child’s development.