The Prepared Environment: How to Set Up a Montessori-Style Learning Area

posted in: Kids Activities | 8

What is a Prepared Environment

Anyone familiar with Montessori education will recognize that term. Having a “prepared environment” simply means having all of the supplies for learning set out so that a child can learn independently. Since Adalia was a toddler, I have sought to have a “prepared environment” for her. This has changed over the years as our family has changed and grown. Here’s what it looks like in our home today:

How to set up a Montessori-style prepared environment at home.

This shelf is more or less the centerpiece of our living room.  Chuck built it seven or eight years ago. It is a wooden masterpiece, with all adjustable shelves! You can see the basic organization. Everything has a place. Library books are kept together so we don’t lose them (but of course, we still do, because children drag them off to bed to read-but at least they have a place to go!) The content of the shelves gets changed often (except for the books- those stay). Since I have two students studying marine biology this year, I have added activities for all the children that center on that topic. We have shells to examine, a mini ocean science kit, coloring pages, and books.

Then we have this shelf (also crafted by Chuck)  on a nearby wall:

How to set up a Montessori-style prepared environment at home.

Here are all the supplies needed to learn about geometric shapes. The insets develop fine motor skills. I have pencils and pre-cut paper out. We have cards to match the solids to the two-dimensional shapes. Those blue things on the wooden insets are matching shape and alphabet boards. Here is a post from last year with my children using the insets.

Here is last year’s back-to-school post on my top picks. It’s so much fun to go and look at this from a year ago. There I have a photo of Hezekiah (age four) using the sandpaper letters. By December (and still age 4!) he was reading. Jubilee wasn’t reading either when I wrote that blog entry last year- she now reads chapter books.

Here were my top picks for older children.

Here’s fun post of 2-year-old Hezekiah using the beloved wedgits.

Hmm…why is it Hezekiah in all these pictures? I really do teach my other children-he just happens to be one of my most patient and long-suffering models.

Here’s a post about preschool activities.

Scroll down on this post to see photos/descriptions of more preschool activities.

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. While researching for this blog entry, I found some inspiration myself. School has been going eerily well so far this year- but I do need more activities for my little ones. I’ll be setting up some of these from last year again.

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8 Responses

  1. I didn’t see a place for scissors???? Ha ha ha…. ;-D

  2. “toddler” and “prepared environment” aren’t two things that really go together in my mind. How do you keep a toddler from just destroying the prepared environment? I would love to leave out all of Simon’s puzzles and stacking toys at his level but if I did they would all be strewn out all over the house all the time. How do you keep a toddler to keep things organized. Or do you just not?

  3. looks tantalizing…I want to come and touch everything on those neat shelves!!! I hope learning is an adventure for you and your family! We are homeschooling with the K-12 curriculum this year…so far it’s great!

  4. Please send Chuck over.

  5. I love this! Found your blog earlier today. You have such a beautiful family.

  6. What a lovely environment. Keeping the space “Montessori” when children grown is often a challenge. You manage beautifully.
    EV

  7. […] to write. I believe in delaying formal education and letting children learn and grow in a prepared environment in the early years. There comes a time, however, when writing needs to be […]

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