Fennec’s Guide To… Setting Up a Montessori Shelf

It’s easy to fill up shelves and storage in a playroom full of toys, puzzles and games, but there has been some serious research and support to create a ‘Montessori’ shelf for your little ones. The Montessori movement takes its name from its founder, Dr Maria Montessori who began the first Casa dei Bambini or Children’s House in Rome in 1907. Today, Montessori is the single largest educational philosophy in the world with more than 170 countries on six continents.

Having been around for over 100 years, the Montessori learning approach for tamariki (children) is as relevant today as it was when it was first established and is suitable for future generations to come. They are defined by a child-centred approach to learning, nurturing independence and individuality in children.

So coming back to creating a Montessori shelf, you always want to be promoting independence in kids when you can. There are many ways in which you can do this, including making sure that the shelf is built at a proper height so they can reach all of the items without needing your help, ideally with no cupboard doors and everything is open. This makes for an inviting environment for kids to engage with the activities on their own.

Montessori classrooms are often laid out in the same way with activities at a height that all children can reach, they are on display (not hidden away), feature few options so kids don’t get overwhelmed with choice, and are put on trays.

We’re not suggesting you ditch all of the rest of the toys. The best option is to create different boxes that are rotated out either daily, weekly or fortnightly (something the parents on the Fennec team would be overwhelming, but there are some great strategies on this – more to come on that!).

In reading ‘The Montessori Toddler’ book by Simone Davies, she points out that, “A completed activity is less attractive to a toddler than one that has been left undone”. So you may have to park your OCD tendencies and override the urge to have toys put together so they appear tidy, in order for your kids to actually want to play with them.

Montessori shelves are like a revolving door, they are never truly complete or finished, they can be adjusted and changed to suit different ages, developmental stages and interests. It’s what we are calling our ‘work in progress’.

Want some Montessori shelf ideas? Here are some must-haves below.

The Pat Bell Shelf is an award winning best seller!  It is a premium quality piece that withstands the test of excited children and will last for future generations. Listen to them play beautiful music from as early as 12 months of age. And now with FREE shipping to NZ!

The team at Tiny Tones are all about developing little minds, motor skills and musicality with musical play. In-tune, quality instruments from newborn to primary school ages. Music for play – music for life.

For more must-have products from Tiny Tones, click here.

Inspired by the Japanese Minimalist design, the Himiku Blocks are thoughtfully crafted to stimulate creative thinking and open-ended play. They are perfect for both the big kids and the little ones. The Himiku Blocks are unique and no two blocks are the same.

Made from beech wood, the multi-coloured blocks are covered with non-toxic water-based paint.

The Himiku Blocks help to instil patience and creativity in kids while developing their cognitive and lateral thinking. It can help improve visual-spatial intelligence, improve memory and mental clarity.

90 percent of brain growth happens from birth to age 5. Don’t miss out on this limited time window of opportunity.

To find the perfect set of Himiku for your Montessori shelf, click here.

The Gloria Dices is a pack of six lightweight cubes with numbers marked as cute bears – perfect for learning how to count.

Made from 100 percent silicone, they are not only lightweight, but durable and easy to clean.

Available from Dapper Mr Bear, click here.

Set from 3 pieces wooden key as similar to keys from different types of locks: padlock, door lock and car key to help your child develop fine motor skills in the game, opening and closing doors and cupboards in his room or around the house.

Any child would love to have a bunch of wooden keys, the same keys as in adults.

Made out of hardwood: ash, oak, birch, maple and beech are grown in ecologically clean place. Each product is fully treated to avoid rough edges, sharp edges, then covered with natural linseed oil.

Its products are 100% made by hand so they retain the heat and energy of natural wood.

Available from Little Whimsy, click here.

This colourful round tower is fun and engaging for your baby to look at, while stacking the pieces helps them develop their organisation and motor skills.

  • Stacking toys help develop both the body and the brain starting around six months
  • Recommended age 0-3 years
  • Helps improve fine motor skills
  • The basic skills learned from stacking toys become the foundation for more complex tasks like using a writing instrument
  • Stacking toys also help kids learn language skills
  • 100% free from BPA, PVC and phthalates.
  • Designed and manufactured in Denmark.

Available from Little and Loved, click here.