Wednesday, January 6, 2010

James' World - Redux!

As promised, here is the photo tour of our new and improved classroom! (warning, this is a long post, so get a cuppa hot cocoa and settle in!)
I am so excited to share this with all of you - the only ones who will appreciate my hard work! Oh my sweet husband appreciates our new classroom, but doesn't really *get* how exciting it is for us homeschoolers to create and organize our learning spaces!

Ok, on with the tour. Oh wait - if you're interested in seeing before photos, click here.

Now if you follow my blog you know I'm leaping whole heartedly into the wonderful world of Montessori. That said, I recreated our space with that method and our new materials in mind.

Here's our Montessori corner... (sorry about the inconsistent light in the photos - some were taken during the day, some at night.)
I was getting tired of our trays accumulating on our countertops, and since James is always wanting to do some type of school activity I wanted to make it so he could help himself to whatever, whenever (*assuming he's had a proper presentation of the items first).

Close-ups of the bookcases...
First, and my favorite, our Practical Life/nature display shelves:

Whenever I walk into the kitchen this is what I see in the adjoining room - it makes me sooo happy!! I plan on keeping 4-6 PL items out at a time with a weekly rotation and a balanced variety of skills. I'll post close-ups of the trays in the slideshow on my sidebar in case you're interested.

This nature display makes me smile everytime I see it. I will publish a separate post about this. :)

Next, the Sensorial shelves:
I will only rotate items as James masters them. I have the remaining box of knobbed cylinders on order and when it arrives they'll all move to the very top of the bookcase. Also on these shelves are the knobless cylinders, the geometric solids and the cookie cutters for our monthly playdough (which has to stay refrigerated and which James has full access to).

Lastly, the Tot School shelves:This is where I'll place our Tot School trays - the activities I create for our letter of the week and any seasonal/themed tasks. One shelf is dedicated to just number and letter type activities and I'll also keep a puzzle or two and some other educational toys on these shelves as well. All of these items will be rotated weekly.

To the right of the Tot School shelves is James' book & music corner. There's a comfy beanbag nearby. Also a basket of musical instruments should James feel the need to rock out. :)

To the right of that is the patio (this is where we do our messy/water activities - it's also where I keep our container garden). Here I keep the toy bins and on that shelf above is where I store our school supplies. I also have an art station set up with lots of yummy drawing tools.
Moving on to the other side of the room...
James' work table, our seasonal board, a few of James' masterpieces :) and over in the corner is a lovely little barn from Santa and a basket of kitchen items next to the PL shelves.

So there you go - our new classroom. What do you think??

Our verdict? We LOVE it. James said "Oh WOW!" when he saw it for the first time. He has been in 7th heaven now that he can pick and choose his activities whenever the mood strikes him. And, I was pleased to notice, he isn't careless about the items. He understands they are special things and is quite good about keeping them nice and tidy. Aw, my little 'Type A' guy... like mother, like son. :)

*Montessori believed it was important to first present materials to children so they may see how to correctly approach the work and thus provide them the opportunity to succeed at it. "Don't let a child risk failure until he has experienced success." ~ Maria Montessori

36 comments:

Montessori Moments said...

Wow, you have made a beautiful "work" area for James. What kind of room is this? (living room, bedroom?)
If only I had the space!
Thanks for sharing!

Mari-Ann said...

Thank you!
It's a dining room. We have a separate dining space in our kitchen, so this room was meant for formal dining. We don't entertain much, so it became a playroom instead! It's in a great location because it adjoins the kitchen and living room - two places we frequent in the house! :)

Nicole said...

It looks great!! I love the open space and all the sunlight coming in. I'm sure James will spend many happy hours there!

Julie said...

Wow, I love it! Can we come do school at your house:) You did a great job and I love all of your materials too!!

The Activity Mom said...

What a great space! Love it!

Jo Shabo said...

wish I had this kind of space! You have done a beautiful job with this! I love it!

hikingmama said...

Wow, what a beautiful learning space. I love all the light. You have an amazing collection of learning materials!

Our Cozy Little Book and Art Corner said...

I LOVE all your montessori stuff! your school room is AWESOME!!!

Our Little Family said...

Umm, what do I think?! I think I'm drooling over the space, the materials, the organization...! Mari-Ann, you have done such a wonderful job to create a beautiful environment, and the proof is that James is excited and gentle with everything (he and Maddie would get along just fine!).

Really and truly, you did an amazing job. What an amazing space with an amazing mom to lead the journey!

Lindsay said...

aww love it! I would love to have a space for Sammy to play and learn like you have created!

Gaby said...

Wow this is so amazing, what a lucky guy James is to have such a great space, and you're such a great mommy for making it! I love organization!

Rusheika said...

this is great! Love the way you have organized everything!! I may have to hire you to come organize my space!!
James has a great Mama!! all the best for 2010!

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

Oh my goodness, I am in HEAVEN looking at this, and how organized and neat and SPACIOUS everything is. What a beautiful area, Mari-Ann, you've done a wonderful job with it! I'm so excited for you and James... and totally, totally jealous all at the same time! :) I'm really looking forward to hearing about that nature display too - how adorable!!

The girl who painted trees said...

Wow! I'm drooling it looks so beautiful and inviting and spacious and the materials look awesome. It seems that the Montessori materials just invite themselves to be handled with care wouldn't you think? They are beautiful and feel so good in the hands. Bear's usually careful with her things too.

Elise said...

Mari-Ann this is amazing. You have done such a fantastic job, creating an inviting environment where James has access to so many wonderful resources and activities.

You have thought of everything. Every little nook and cranny has a purpose and contains something that would appeal to James.

What a fantastic way to start the new year. James and you are going to have so many positive, fun and memorable experiences in your new set up.

Thank you for sharing your inspirational transformation of this room.

Debbie said...

Your room is AWESOME!!! You are SOOOOOOOOOOO blessed to have this space!!! (And James is so blessed to have such a super mommy.) You did a fabulous job organizing this, and if I ever have the space to do something similar, you will be my inspiration! I love all your materials, and I'm becoming more interested in Montessori thanks to you! So, I agree with what everyone else said--it's beautiful! Thanks for posting the pics!

Montessori Beginnings said...

Beautiful! You and James are blessed to have such a beautiful space to learn in. I wish all of us Montessori mommy's could just hop on over and enjoy it with you : ) If only we could all get together some time!

Theresa said...

WOW!!! I absolutely love your new space.. heck, I loved the old one too!
Can't wait to see all the fun James has in his new room! :)

Helene said...

Wow!!!! That is amazing...you did a wonderful job!! I used to teach at a Montessori preschool and I really enjoyed the activities, especially the presentation of everything. One of my favorites was the water droppers!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog...hope you'll be back again soon!

Susan said...

Wow Mari-Ann, you did such a wonderful job! I knew it would be something spectacular, but WOW is all I can say. I am so excited for you and James as you start on your new adventure. Keep us posted on how your space really works out. I am currently redoing our area...trying to find a method that works for us. We have the space, just figuring out how to best use it is our problem.

Cara said...

You've created such an AMAZING space for James to play and learn! I absolutely adore everything about it! Those shelves (and the way you have the items presented) are amazing. The art station is fabulous, too!

I'm struggling with our learning space right now. We're all over the place. The playroom is upstairs, but we do all the crafts at a little table downstairs in the kitchen. And the ever popular truck collection is in the living room.

Jen said...

That's it, I'm moving back to Bermuda just so you can school my children! This room is AMAZING! It looks JUST like a Montessori classroom! Where did you get the beautiful materials? When do you start your training? Best of everything for you in 2010, dear friend.
~Jen

Leptir said...

Beautiful! Real Montessori classroom, you did it just like Maria Montessori was teaching and follownig Montessori principles :-)And you just started your education?
Congrats

Karen said...

Mari-Ann, IT'S BEAUTIFUL!!! Quedo hermoso, Bendecidos de contar con ese espacio fabuloso, iluminado y GRANDE!!! ESPECTACULAR!! Felicidades!!

a bIG HUG!!

Evelyn said...

OMG! Are you trying to make me jelous? Even I wanna be in your classroom. IT's really really beautiful. Even my little one said so... He also said that JAMES is his friend. How cute!
A big hug from PR

Izzie Mac and Me said...

I love your classroom environment! It is so inspiring. I'm curious to know if this is considered the "playroom" too or do you house the "other" toys somewhere else?

Pip said...

I LOVE your room!
Very welcoming and definatly somewhere i would like to come play!
I have just had our playroom built and i have really enjoyed getting it set up. It has more in there than i would really like... but i know i need to d a toy cull!!
Pipx

Deb Chitwood said...

What a beautiful and nurturing Montessori environment you’ve created for your son, Mari-Ann! I’ve featured it in my post on How to Set Up a Montessori Preschool Classroom at Home: http://LivingMontessoriNow.com/2010/08/17/how-to-set-up-a-montessori-preschool-classroom-at-home/

TomatoJam said...

Hi. I've only just found your blog and spent ages looking at it yesterday. Today I'm looking at your links to Montessori supplies etc. Your room is so beautiful and the arrangement of the shelves is just lovely. I've seen in lots of your pictures lovely wooden bowls and sorting trays. Are those just things that you've picked up over yrs or can you give a hint where to find that sort of thing? Thank you.

Counting Coconuts said...

TomatoJam, you're right - the bowls and trays are, for the most part, things I've found here and there over the years. I like to look to thrift shops, garage sales and Etsy for my materials. Once you get in the groove of preparing Practical Life activities you'll find you see materials everywhere you look! Keep your eyes and your imagination open whenever you're out and about and you'll be surprised what goodies you'll find!

I've also linked to several stores I've purchased from in my Montessori Resources and Recommendations post. Montessori N Such, Montessori Outlet and Montessori Services are my favorite places for the wooden trays and sorting items.

Hope that helps!

Mari-Ann

Julie said...

Wow, this is so great, this is the best home classroom I've seen! I started reading your blog from the beginning, so may be you already redid it all but I just wanted to say how inspirational you are! I love your blog, it is one of my favorite. My little girl is 21 mo and I am still unsure as to which education method I will choose with her, we are doing some Waldorf and some Montessori as I think they both have great aspects, but I am still struggling on balance between the two :)

The Princess and the Tot said...

I want to do school in that room!! I have a 4th grader, so we have to combine our schoolroom for the two of them. That means I don't have as much room, but I would totally have a set-up like this if I did! AWESOME job!

A not so good writer! said...

Wow, love he rooms it is so nice and organized.

Sarah said...

Just wondering where you purchased your bookcases. Your ideas and classroom are wonderful!! Thanks so much for sharing your journey.

Counting Coconuts said...

@Sarah: I purchased the bookcases here on the island at a store called Great Things. Sorry, I don't know the manufacturer brand, though.

Mari-Ann

Kate said...

I am relieved to see that you have 'toys' in your playroom alongside your Montessori materials. We just started homeschooling this year and I have set up a bookcase of new Montessori materials and yet my son would rather play with other things. I'm afraid insisting on using these materials, his pick of the lot of course, during lesson periods is putting him off on the idea of using them at all...except to use his cylinders as cans of pop in the kitchen area. Ho hum. I worried that I was doomed to scrap the idea or remove toys from the playroom. It must work somehow!

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