Today I'm excited to share a Montessori make-over for these play/work shelves. What would you do to make this space more functional and engaging for a two-year-old? What would you change?
These shelves are in the living area of a Paddington (NSW, AU) terrace. This is home to Nadia (2yrs), Theodore (6yrs), and their parents. This is a multi-purpose living area used as a play space and music area with a piano and guitar just out of view. There isn't enough room here for a children's table and chairs as it would take up most of the available floor space.
Want to see the changes we made?
The top shelf is predominantly for Nadia (2yrs) so we moved the KAPLA Blocks to Theodore's shelves (to the right) and moved the Lego (in the blue container) into a new 35L under-bed storage container that will fit under the sofa chairs. This immediately freed up more shelf space for Nadia.
We introduced a range of age and developmentally appropriate materials for Nadia c/o Lovevery. The Lovevery Play Kits are fantastic, they are Montessori-inspired and backed by research, they are engaging, educational, safe, and reliable. I chose The Helper Play Kit (25, 26, 27 months) for Nadia at 24 months.
A soft wool rug and a low fold-up table help to keep the space multi-purpose and flexible as both can be rolled up or folded up and put under the sofa when the area is going to be used for family events or for entertaining.
Let's take a closer look.
Nature Basket - with a large magnifying glass for Nadia and a pocket magnifier for Theodore. This is a nice place for the children to put their collected items from nature walks but can also be used as a seasonal basket, with items reflecting the seasons. A Nature Basket is one small way we can bring more nature indoors and provide a connection to children and their outdoor natural environment.
Basket Labels - these can assist the children in packing up and putting items back into the right basket. This is particularly helpful when there are lots of loose pieces or open-ended toys the children may use together and mix up. While Theodore can read, pictorial labels for Nadia may be useful.
Fold-Up Low Table - provides a raised flat, easy-to-clean surface for things like puzzles and arts/crafts. It can be moved around the home if the children are working on a longer-term project and can fold up and be packed under the sofa when not needed.
Soft Rug - provides a nice comfortable surface for playing on the floor. This rug is firm and stable enough the child can build blocks on it. It is small enough that it can be rolled up and packed away.
Multi Book Stand - allows up to six books to be easily accessible and forward-facing. Previously the family used a cookbook type stand (also a good idea) to display books here but was only able to display a couple of books at a time.
Art/Drawing Tray - this includes Washable Tempera Paint Sticks, from the Lovevery Play Kit. These paint sticks are really lovely and smooth. The children can take the art kit with them out and about or use the paint sticks on the tray provided. I've added extra A5 card for drawing. This tray can easily be updated with other art materials like crayons, pasting, or some scissors for cutting. Working on the fold-up table keeps the mess contained. This introduces some art to the area, fantastic for expression and creativity but also for developing fine motor skills.
The colour sorting and patterning game and the shapes puzzle (it's double-sided) are from the Lovevery Play Kit. These introduce more fine motor work with some matching, sorting skills, also useful for developing coordination and concentration.
The children share the open-ended toys in the baskets on the bottom shelf. The baskets fit in this space perfectly. It's important to check on toys like this regularly, take out any that are broken or need repair, and remove or rotate any toys that the children have lost interest in.
This is a small shared space that is well organised to store books and accommodate the children's materials.
A Nature Basket or tray is a lovely addition to any children's space. This allows the child to create a collection and study the items in their own time.
Recommendations for Nadia's family:
- Observe Nadia and Theodore working in the area, note what works and what doesn't. Make necessary adjustments.
- Consider pictorial labels for the baskets.
- Consider small toddler scissors for the playdough basket or art/craft tray.
- Pasting, sewing/lacing are nice options to rotate on the art/craft tray.
- Consider low-hanging artwork in the area.
Please note that it is important to respect the child's sense of order. If the child is sensitive to order it may be best to change only a couple of materials at a time and observe the child with those materials before making further changes. During this make-over the children were present and were comfortable with me making changes to their environment.
Resources: Fold-Up Low Table, Multi Book Stand, Bamboo Trays (AU), Underbed Storage Container 35L (AU), Basket Labels (AU), Children's Magnifying Glass, Pocket Magnifier, Lion Rug (AU), Lovevery Play Kits (US) c/o Lovevery. Free shipping for orders $75+ in contiguous US at Lovevery.com! Shop Lovevery in the UK or Shop Lovevery in the EU.
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