I’ve been asked to show what’s on the Montessori shelves I have for my 2-year-old granddaughter, Zoey. Like most Montessori homes, mine is always a work in progress. My shelves change according to my granddaughter’s needs and interests, which include a fascinating variety of topics.
So the shelves I’m showing you today may not be the same tomorrow. And that’s probably good. I don’t want you to think that these are what should be on your toddler shelves. If something is helpful for you, that’s awesome. But I hope you feel comfortable in going with your own child’s needs and interests.
Needless to say, these activities can be used for a variety of ages. My granddaughter just happens to be 2 years old, but some of the activities work for younger children and others for older children. As long as you’re meeting your child’s needs and interests, that’s perfect. Age really doesn’t matter.
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How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2 Year Old – YouTube Video
What’s on Zoey’s Montessori Shelves
Here are Zoey’s shelves at age 2. If you’re interested in a particular activity below, just click on the link. It’ll go to a blog post or resource with more details.
These are Zoey’s shelves set up with a general fall theme. I typically have a few seasonal or holiday activities on the shelves.
Between a comfortable armchair for reading together and Zoey’s shelves is a Montessori book basket that we use instead of a book shelf.
A Montessori school generally has a shelf for each curriculum area. Because I only have two shelving units in my living room, I use one for practical life, language, and cultural activities. Many of the cultural activities include language activities in them. The materials aren’t organized by curriculum area on a specific shelf, though. That’s more a matter of which tray fits better on a particular shelf. Organize your shelves in whatever way works best for you, too.
Top shelf in the practical life, language, and cultural area:
- art appreciation tray with fine art prints to match from Montessori By Mom.
- world globe from a National Geographic magazine subscription my now-adult kids had
- Zoey’s baby beluga tray with ocean sensory bottle. Zoey’s so in love with beluga whales that who knows how long it’ll be on the shelf!
- a window washing tray
- dinosaur matching activity (inspired after Zoey’s love of dinosaurs and her dinosaur ice melt activity) with the book I Love Dinosaurs by Michael Berenstain (no longer available), although there are many great dinosaur books available on Amazon)
- DIY book tray with an alphabet book and autumn book
- musical instruments matching activity from Montessori By Mom
- nature tray
- open and close basket, which used to have empty containers. (As she’s gotten older, they each contain a Safari Ltd. good luck mini.)
Top shelf in the educational toys, sensorial, and math area:
- Melissa & Doug latches board
- Russian nesting dolls (that we had when my kids were little)
- rainbow water bead sensory bottles color matching with Montessori Services language objects)
Middle shelf in the educational toys, sensorial, and math areas:
- Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See? booklet with color matching cards
- fall shape matching with Spielgaben wooden shapes
- Melissa & Doug shape sorting clock
Bottom shelf in the educational toys, sensorial, and math areas:
- 5 Little Scarecrows tray
- rhythm instruments for music activities
- ball basket (at this age, it’s mainly for playing games with her grandpa)
Note: I often have a Montessori-inspired playdough tray on one of these shelves as well. That’s a great activity for 2 year olds (and preschoolers).
Because Zoey will be attending a Montessori school starting in the fall of 2016, I don’t want her to spend too much time with classic Montessori materials outside of school. Even though I have some Montessori materials, I want those specific activities saved mainly for her school times. (Note: if your child attends or will attend a Montessori school, you don’t need to buy any classic Montessori materials. In fact, it’s recommended that you don’t.) If you have a Montessori homeschool, you’ll want to buy Montessori materials and/or make your own Montessori materials.
So, I keep the Montessori materials in my office where Zoey spends limited time each week. I have them next to my cabinet of Spielgaben materials, which I use for preparing Montessori-inspired activities.
Here are some Montessori materials that could be good for your 2 year old:
- pink tower, brown stair, and red rods
- 2 cylinder blocks (full size)
- red, blue, and yellow color tablets (color box 1). Add more colors as your child is ready for them. I like these DIY color tablets using a Montessori Print Shop printable for introducing colors to a young child whether or not the child will be attending a Montessori school.
- Mystery bag (mine is from the Montessori By Mom Building and Blocks toolbox)
- DIY or inexpensive sound cylinders (mine are from the Montessori By Mom Making Music toolbox)
Even though these aren’t shelves, they make up an important area for Zoey. In addition to her snack and meal table (and work area) with flower arranging activity, she has a Melissa & Doug cleaning set and a bucket for big spills. Next to that is her Little Partners Learning Tower with easel. When we want to do a food preparation activity, I simply move the Learning Tower into the kitchen.
Zoey also has a DIY sensory table (could also be used as a water table) to use on my patio or indoors next to the patio doors. I typically change the sensory bin according to season or holiday.
Zoey’s home environment also has Montessori-friendly shelves, although with more toys than educational materials.
Preparing Montessori Spaces in Your Home
See “How to Create a Montessori-Friendly Home” for ideas for a number of levels. Here are some of my main home environment posts:
- How to Prepare a Montessori Baby Room at Home (roundup post)
- How to Prepare a Montessori Toddler Environment at Home (roundup post)
- Preparing a Montessori Newborn Baby Space at Home
- How to Use Montessori Mobiles to Encourage a Newborn Baby’s Development and Delight
- Preparing a Montessori Baby Space in Your Living Room
- Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home
- Preparing Montessori Toddler Spaces at Home
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 4 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 4½ Year Old
- How to Prepare a Montessori Home Environment for Afterschooling
- Create an Attractive Home Environment from Montessori at Home!
- How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom
Jo Ebisujima and I have a free Montessori at home webinar and introduction to our Montessori Crash Course.
I’d love to hear how you use Montessori shelves and spaces in your home!
Montessori Monday Link-Up
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! I’m also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learni
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