How to Set Up a Montessori Playroom The Right Way? A Guide From Certified Montessori Homeroom Teacher!

I first became interested in Montessori when I was graduating college and looking for something to do with my life.

I was interested in teaching, and the play-based method really appealed to me because I was raised with a lot of that. After college I took a course and became certified as a Montessori teacher.

After teaching for a few years, I got married and had my little girl, and I knew that even though she wasn’t old enough to go to school, I could create a playroom with lots of Montessori baby toys for her.

After my success with creating my own at-home Montessori playroom, I want to share how to do that with all of you. If you’re interested in creating your own Montessori-style playroom, read on for how to do it.

What is A Montessori Playroom?

You’ve probably heard the term “Montessori” before, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it means.

The Montessori Method was developed by doctor and educator Maria Montessori in the early 1900s as a way to educate special needs children who at that time were relegated to asylums and treated as if they were less than human. [1]

After observing them for a time, Montessori figured out a way to help them learn, and this method has been used ever since for educating not only special needs children but every child.

Maria Montessori | Montessori Playroom |  Baby Journey
Maria Montessori. Source: Montessori.org

The Montessori method is based on the senses and self-directed activity. The method closely follows the child’s development stages and takes its cues from where the child is in his or her development.

Everything is age-appropriate and designed to encourage creativity and self-directed choices. Nearly everything in the Montessori method is hands-on and involves all of the senses in one way or another, since that is how small children learn.

In the Montessori method, everything the child does is called “work”. This is because small kids don’t differentiate between work and play, and Montessori play is a great way for them to learn many different skills.

Montessori activities cover all areas of learning, from motor skills to math to language activities and more. The materials are always beautiful and real: Montessori classrooms always use real glass and metal and even sharp(ish) knives so that the children learn to be careful.

The activities are carefully presented by the lead teacher the first time, and then after that the child is free to choose whatever work he or she wishes to use during the day.

Older children generally start in Montessori around age 3, although there are programs for infants and toddlers, and some schools go up through high school. The most common age is 3 years old to 6. [2]

If you want to set up a babies’ playroom, you can start at any age! Just make sure you have age-appropriate Montessori toy items for your child to work with.

You may be interested in: Best Montessori Toys for 1 Year Old

Playroom Elements

The elements of a Montessori inspired playroom are very important and should in some way mimic a Montessori classroom. I’m going to explain what I mean by that below.

1. Simple Yet Cozy Design

Montessori is all about the environment, called the “prepared environment”. This means that the space is prepared to foster the child’s independent learning and exploration. The goal is to make the space soothing to the child, so use neutral instead of bright colors and not too many at once.

Have a few pieces of beautiful artwork on the walls at height the child can easily see. Use small tables and chairs, and low shelves that are within the child’s reach. Include a big pillow or cozy chair where your child can relax.

Keep only a few environmentally-friendly wooden toys out at a time so your child doesn’t become overwhelmed with choices. The ideal number to keep your child engaged is 8-10 carefully selected toy rotation at the same time.

If you have a lot of toys, just put them in storage and rotate them every few weeks or so. You can set up a long lasting toy rotation schedule to help you with that.

Keep an eye on what your child gravitates to most, which is easy to do with only a few baby toys. If something doesn’t get touched, put it away for another time, but if your child has a favorite, keep it out and rotate the others.

Montessori Playroom at Home | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Keep things simple and peaceful in your playroom. Source: Elle Decor

2. Accessible at Child’s Height

Going back to the prepared environment where everything fosters the child’s independent learning and exploration, the room needs to have furniture that is child-friendly or accessible at child’s level.

You can find child-sized furniture at places like Ikea, or online at stores that specialize in Montessori furniture.

This child-sized space could be designed as your baby’s cozy reading corner!

Toddlers Reading Using Child Sized Table | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
A child-sized table and shelves work wonders in encouraging early toddlerhood youngsters to learn!

3. Open Space

Provide plenty of work space for your child, including a small table and chairs and floor space. Place rugs around the room for your child to work on.

Keep objects and furniture to a minimum and as close to the walls as possible so there’s plenty of open space for your child to move around in. Movement is essential for the young child to work on their gross motor skills.

Child in Montessori Home Playroom | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Give your child plenty of open Montessori spaces for playing and movement.

4. Nature Included

Nature is an important part of the Montessori approach, as it is how kids learn about their world. If you can, include real hanging plants and animals in your environment and natural furniture like a wooden shelf or table.

Toys made from natural materials are good to have in the Montessori play space. When your child is able, they can take care of plants and animals, and they add beauty to the room.

If possible, choose a room that has plenty of windows and natural light. Young children love watching the changing weather and it helps them learn about nature and how it works. If your windows are too high for your little one, use a safe step stool when age-appropriate.

House Plant and Wooden Montessori Toy | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
House plants and nature are a big part of the Montessori method. 

5. Engaging Toys

Montessori classrooms primarily use materials that are made out of natural materials such as wood, metal, and even glass and ceramic, rather than plastic. Don’t use toys (especially musical instruments) that make noise or light up, and keep everything open-ended and engaging rather than entertaining.

You’ll find that your child spends much more time with toys that engage over toys that just entertain.

Engaging toys stimulate all of the senses and allow the child to touch and manipulate them, which improves their concentration and problem solving apart from developing their gross motor skills.

It’s pretty easy to find Montessori learning-based toys these days even in regular stores. There are also a variety of websites that offer fun wooden toys made from natural materials such as Lovevery, or you can purchase real Montessori materials from Montessori toy shops for a discounted price.

Parents on a budget can find plenty of DIYs on Pinterest, or you can scour thrift stores and yard sales.

Open-ended Montessori Wooden Toys | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Give your child natural open-ended toys that promote engagement. Source: Mothermag

6. Dedicated Toy Storage

In a Montessori classroom, every material has its own place on the shelf, and kids learn to return their work to the same spot every time. Small children love routine and repetition and order, and they need that in their Montessori inspired environment.

They need help achieving that, though, so help your child out by creating a specific spot for each item. Keep everything that your child uses easily accessible on open shelving rather than in a toy box so they can see it and easily learn where everything goes in the playroom.

Some parents make use of toy storage containers without lids that can be stored underneath the shelf in a set place.

Organized Montessori Playroom | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Make sure everything has a set space – it adds to the natural beauty of your Montessori home playroom. Source: Happy Hedgehog Post

7. Variety of Activities

A Montessori classroom usually has all of its materials out at once because there is such a wide variety of subjects and different children with different developmental stages. In your child’s playroom, though, this will be overwhelming.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a variety of items out at once, though. 8-10 items is a good number. Provide activities that engage your child’s development needs and different senses, as well as the skills that they are working on.

Observe your child and see what toy he or she gravitates towards and switch out your activities accordingly.

Boy Playing With Toys | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Give your child a limited number (8-10) age appropriate toys or items that promote engagement at a time. 

Benefits of Montessori Play Area

Your baby will benefit greatly from a Montessori play area in your home, even if they don’t go to a Montessori school.

The open and quiet space playroom provides a safe, simple, age-appropriate environment that will help your child develop his or her skills as well as concentration and independence.

Because everything is designed for them, babies can really engage with their environment and own it. [3]

The Montessori playroom activities setup starts your child on their way to becoming an independent, creative, and self-disciplined person and will help your little one develops his or her fine motor skills which are essential for learning to write later on.

How to Set Up a Montessori Playroom At Home?

Creating a Montessori inspired play space is actually simple. Now that you know the key elements of the playroom, it’s time to set one up with these tips!

  • Designate a wide cozy space or play zone for infants near windows. Make sure you have plenty of comfy rugs or non-toxic play mats in your baby play zones and that nothing is a choking hazard or is in any way dangerous for your baby.
  • Place a comfortable floor bed. Floor beds allow your baby to get up on his or her own initiative without any danger of falling out of bed. Use a thin, firm mattress with a fitted sheet.
  • Set up soft bins and low shelving in your baby play space. Make sure they are at child’s level or child-sized so your baby can reach all of the toys and learn to start keeping a few things back on their own.
  • Install a baby gym in your toddler play space. This is great for working on gross motor skills and movement in general.
Baby Using A Play Gym | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Let your little one work those tiny limbs through activities that foster gross motor skill development! Source: Lovevery
  • Provide different educational toys. Ensure that they are open-ended toys that encourage fine motor skills and independence. Open-ended means that the toys can be used in a variety of different ways by the child, not just for entertainment. For example, this block set from Lovevery allows the child to do a variety of different things, including stringing, building, and role-playing.
  • Hang a mirror. Babies love to look at themselves and it helps promote engagement by letting them learn about their own bodies. Hang the mirror at floor or eye level so your baby can easily access it.
Baby And a Mirror | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Let your curious little baby explore and discover everything about their surrounding.
  • Put up some beautiful art where your baby can see it. Use images of real things, not stylized or cartoon art. For example, hang up a painting that shows real children playing. Or hang up family photographs or things that the child can recognize.
  • Add and display toys (I recommend cute stuffed toys) to encourage creative or dramatic play.

What are Some Good Montessori Toys?

Many Montessori toys and activities are created to capture the imagination and to promote learning. They can be anything from a paper clip to a piece of environmentally-friendlywood.

There are three different kinds of Montessori toys: natural objects, realistic objects, and symbolic objects. Natural objects are just what they sound like: tools for everyday life such as pans and bowls.

Realistic objects provide children with a hands-on experience with things that they see every day such as food or animals. Symbolic toys, on the other hand, represent something else such as letters or numbers.

As we all know, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to understanding what will delight and engage children at the best age level for them. So there is no one list of good Montessori toys that will work for different kids.

That being said, Montessori toys for toddlers are not limited to anything specific. They can be used for all kinds of activities, depending on what the child wants to do.

A few examples of Montessori toys that are popular among Montessori children are:

  • Blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Art supplies, such as paints and brushes
  • Musical instruments
  • Practical life skills and language activities
Lovevery Subscription Play Kit | Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey
Subscribe to a play kit(one from Lovevery for example), and you no longer have to go shopping for toys regularly!

Baby Play Zone Ideas

To help you have a better idea on how a real-life Montessori play area looks like, check out this video for reference:

Frequently Asked Questions

What age is best to start Montessori?

You can start Montessori at any different ages! Most Montessori guides and many schools have infant and toddler programs that are very much like the Montessori playroom at home described above. Early childhood education begins between ages 2 ½ and 3.

Any time between conception and age 6 is considered the “absorbent mind” sensitive periods, in which the child learns the most from his or her senses.

How are toys arranged in Montessori playrooms?

In an infant playroom, toys and activities are displayed nicely or arranged on low, open shelves that young children can easily reach.

In a Montessori classroom, materials are arranged from left to right in level of difficulty, so you can mimic that in your playroom.

Does Montessori play work for every child, including those with special needs?

Montessori doesn’t work for every child – some children don’t respond well to the method, though those children tend to be rare.

Most of the time children respond well to the approach. Montessori was originally developed for children with special needs, so it works very well for them! [4]

Is it expensive to create a Montessori baby play room?

It can be, if you’re buying genuine Montessori products from a company that makes Montessori toy materials for schools. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though: you can easily DIY activities and Montessori materials or buy them secondhand.

Conclusion

Even if you aren’t planning to send your child to Montessori school at any point, it’s very beneficial to give him or her a Montessori home environment from the very beginning.

Play spaces for toddlers that have a lot of things in them can overstimulate the child, and keeping things simple and minimalistic helps your child develop a sense of order and independence.

You won’t regret trying it out! My own little girl loves her Montessori home playroom. It makes her day smoother and more peaceful. Just follow my steps above on how to set up a playroom and you’ll be well on your way.

Ps. Added bonus: if you’re dreading those terrible twos, giving your child more independence will greatly help with that!

What do you think of Montessori? Are you planning to create a Montessori playroom at home?

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if you have any Montessori playroom ideas.

Montessori Playroom | Baby Journey

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