There are lots of ways to display materials in a Montessori environment. In the home we have more freedom however the concept is similar to that of a formal Montessori environment (school or community), materials should be accessible to the child and easy to pack up and put away.
Beauty and aesthetics are important. Some trays need to be food safe. Some activities the child will do in the tray and therefore the tray needs to be large and open. Some activities the child will do on a work mat and a basket or tray can be used for storage only. We love natural materials although most of us are on a budget. Handles are great for a young child. Sides on trays and wooden trays with handles are perfect for toddler environments.
No Montessori environment is standard. They are unique and therefore variety, texture, colour and local influences are important. Here is a collection of baskets, trays and a jar or two that we love and many we use on our Montessori shelves.
1. Sommar 2015 Raspberry Tray. - Great food/fruit preparation tray!
2. Ensidig Vase. - Ok, not at basket or tray but we use these a lot on our shelves to hold bits and pieces, being clear it's easy for the child to find crayons, stamps or for viewing nature items such as seedpods, feathers, leaves, gum nuts!
3. Burken Glass Jar with Lid. Yet another glass jar that is an essential - the lid is easily removable and it is perfect for storing collections of little things such as buttons, threads, chalk. We also put play dough in ours and then put the jar on an activity tray. Also used in the bathroom to store homemade bath salts.
5. Smula Clear Tray. - For kitchen or water/sand work.
6. Sommar 2015 Raspberry Tray. - Also great for food/fruit preparation!
7. Finkornig Bowl.
9. Kastanjenot Water Hyacinth bowl. - I love this one, it's almost always on our shelves, it's nice and large and with the handles can be carried by a child, I love the white handles!!
10. Byholma Brown Basket.
13. Byholma Grey Basket.
14. Variera, Bamboo Utensil Tray. - A long rectangular tray.
15. Klack Rubberwood Tray. - A large tray with handles.
16. Risatorp Wire Basket.
17. Bolga Baskets. These fair trade baskets can be found in many locations and are very useful for storing small collections, bits and pieces.
18. Mini Beech Wooden Tray. A very small tray good for storing one or two items of work.
19. Small Wooden Tray with Handles. This is a really great size for Montessori toddler and preschooler work. I don't think you can have too many of these trays - they are always useful.
DAISO (this is a Japanese variety store)
21. Wire Basket. I love that this is like a shopping basket. It makes it fun to use.
25. Small Woven Basket.
Sticks and Stones Education (Australia)
26. Wooden Tray - Five Compartment. - So many uses but naturally lends itself to sorting.
27. Sisal Nesting Baskets. - I love the natural look and the texture of these baskets.
28. Small Crochet Basket. - I love the warmth and texture of this little basket. I like the point of difference. It's nice to have lots of interest and variety on our shelves.
29. Crochet Basket. Again it's the handmade touch, a point of difference. Gorgeous colour and texture.
30. Large Coiled Rope Basket. I love rope baskets large and small. Again they help to add variety to our shelves and add warmth. We have a couple of small ones which hold pieces of puzzles and other items which fit in our activity trays.
While the Etsy baskets are more expensive they are handmade and it's possible to purchase items that are made locally. Our crochet baskets were made in New South Wales by Chompa Handmade. I have also picked up lovely rope baskets at markets and independent artist stores. These cost more but I love the handmade and local element - having a story of finding them at a market or meeting the maker is a good experience. It's even better if you have a few skills and can crochet or make baskets or trays yourself! A basket collected while on holidays (or overseas!) can be a wonderful addition too!
Montessori Services has a large range of trays. In the US Joanns has many trays and Michaels has many useful baskets. Our go to source for Australia made, local, hand-made trays is Wood Puzzles. Fair Trade stores like Oxfam always have an interesting selection of baskets and second hand/thrift stores can also have a good selection.