One of my goals with Carrots Are Orange is to offer fresh and unique Montessori shelf ideas for your home and classroom. So what are the secrets to engaging kids?
I know the feeling of staleness when it comes to a child's space.
Sometimes you have to mix it up to ignite a child's interest again.
Then you can breath a sigh of relief that you're actually pretty darn good at this teaching kids thing, that kids aren't totally put to sleep by your classroom, and better yet, that there is great joy happening within the walls.
Secrets to Engaging Kids with Montessori Shelves
Rotate items and trays – Rotation doesn't have to mean buying new things all the time. Kids enjoy rediscovering items they haven't seen for a while. Engaging kids in this way is not only inexpensive, it is effective!
Only one of each item on the shelf – Children learn to respect one another work space and time.
Less is more – Populate your shelves and then take at least 1/4 off the shelves. Kids get overstimulated easily.
Neat and orderly – Take time to lay out the shelves in the morning, clean up throughout the day, and tidy up at the end of the day.
Make it seasonal – Keep it fun and festive with the seasons and special occasions that come and go throughout the year.
Assess the mood and interests of the class – Follow the child's lead and, through observation, create shelves customized to the children. Interests change throughout the year so pay attention to what might hook that child into a work!
Pick a theme – Themes don't have to be based on seasons or holidays. The “march of the units” is not always the best way to lay out shelves, or at least the best way for a particular teacher or parent. Choose a theme like space, earth day, sea turtles, or a variety of other topics.
Lean into extensions and variations – Use your own creativity, or do some research in online Montessori groups and blogs. There are loads of amazing extension and variations ideas. Kids love extensions. Variations & extensions keep the learning interesting and moving forward!
Access blogs for new and unique ideas – I have talked about this one before in my Montessori in the Home posts. Montessori can be expensive. So, sticking with strict Montessori materials may not be the way to go. So, find ways to reuse materials in different ways or explore DIY Montessori ideas.