10 items to turn any space into a Montessori-inspired playroom

Even if you have no interest in Montessori homeschooling, a Montessori-inspired playroom can be a great space for your child to experience focused, creative play.

While a playroom for young kids usually features bright colors and pictures of smiling animals, a Montessori space uses soft colors to create a calm atmosphere and natural materials to give children a richer sensorial experience.

Montessori play spaces also have way fewer toys and materials than a typical playroom—this helps children choose what to play with and experience focused play without being overwhelmed by choices or visual clutter. Having fewer choices also enables even young children to successfully put things away on their own, as everything has a place.

Lastly, the materials you'll find will be different. Montessori-style toys are generally simple, often open-ended, and free of batteries and electronic elements. This is to encourage children to take charge of their own play and be engaged rather than entertained.

If you're unsure where to start, here are 10 items to help you create a Montessori-inspired playroom:

1. Low shelves

One thing you'll notice right away in a Montessori space is that all of the furniture is designed for children. Having the materials easily accessible on a low shelf means that children can be independent in choosing what to work with.

Montessori-style shelves are also relatively bare—they do not have bins full of mixed toys and materials, rather a space for each item. This means you won't have as many materials out in a Montessori playroom, but you can rotate them instead, switching out the materials as your child's interests shift.

This keeps the clutter away and also keeps children curious and engaged!

2. Trays + baskets

While you won't find big bins of toys in a Montessori playroom, you will see little baskets and trays to keep things organized.

You might use a basket to hold an assortment of realistic animals or a set of puzzle pieces, or you might use a tray to hold bead stringing or the pieces from a rainbow stacker.

This helps the child easily choose and put away their own work.

3. Potted (or hanging) plants

Montessori spaces almost always have plants, and sometimes pet animals too!

Bringing living things into the space invites children's curiosity about the natural world and also gives them something to take care of, which is great for a sense of confidence and responsibility.

Choose a beautiful planter and provide a small watering can so your child can help care for the plants.

4. Meaningful artwork

Instead of cartoonish pictures (as cute as they may be!), try hanging photographs from nature or prints of paintings from artists you admire. Hanging photos from a family trip or prints from an art exhibit you've attended together is a great way to make it more meaningful.

You can also let your child choose some of their favorite artwork they've created and frame it on the wall. This frame makes it super easy to switch out the art.

For a Montessori-style space, make sure to hang the pictures at your child's eye level, rather than an adult's. This is a small thing, but makes a big difference in how much your child actually notices and appreciates the art.

5. Soft lighting

Natural light is best, but you can't always control that, so include as much soft light as you can. You can use hanging lanterns or a small table lamp to soften the light for your child.

Little touches like this can really make a big difference in creating a space where your child feels comfortable and can focus.

6. Light table

A light table is a wonderful way to extend a child's interest in a variety of things. It is great for looking at things like leaves and flowers they've found outside in a new way, but it's also a super fun way to explore Magnatiles. Children can also use light tables for tracing if they're interested.

7. Reading nook

Most Montessori spaces for children, whether at school or at home, have a cozy space for reading books. It is often by a window, and includes a limited selection of reality-based books, and has a cozy child-sized chair or floor pillow to make the space extra inviting.

8. Gross motor options

One of the hallmarks of Montessori is the encouragement of movement. Children are active learners and explorers and they need to move a lot. Including an indoor swing, tunnel or balance board in the space will give your child an appropriate outlet for all of their physical energy so they're less likely to be climbing the furniture!

9. Montessori-friendly toys

Of course once you've set up the space, you'll need to select the toys! You do not need to feel limited to Montessori-specific toys, but there are a few guidelines you can follow if you want to keep the space Montessori-focused.

Montessori-style toys are generally simple, high-quality, frequently made of natural materials (think wood over plastic, when possible), and often allow for creativity and open-ended use. A great place to start is blocks of all kinds, puzzles and imaginative play items. You of course know your child best and can choose toys to match their specific interests and level.

10. Art supplies

Including an art space in your child's Montessori playroom is a great way to encourage their creativity and fine motor skills and a great way to contain the mess to one room.

Montessori-style art for kids is totally open-ended. For young children, supplies are often organized on trays with everything they need for painting on one tray and everything they need for drawing on another tray. For older children, you might just have a variety of art supplies for them to combine as they wish.

Make sure to provide the tools they'll need to clean up messes, like a sponge, spray bottle and a small broom. A lot of learning and independence come from the clean-up.

If you walk into any Montessori space, one of the first things you'll notice is the simplicity, yet it can seem daunting to set up a Montessori playroom in your own home. Just remember that you don't have to do it all at once. You can set up a simple room with child-sized furniture and gradually fill it as you encounter items you love.

Just keep it simple and child-focused (rather than Pinterest-focused) and you'll see your child experience focused, creative and joyful play in their new space.

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