Montessori Monday: The Cubby Conundrum!
One of the first profound realizations I had upon reading my Montessori at Home curriculum was that my cubby system was not ideal for Montessori style teaching. I couldn't and honestly still can't imagine completely eliminating my labeled bins for storage. They are deep and help make the most of every square inch of that storage cube. We have two cubby bookshelves for our toy storage ... so rather than eliminate all of my bins. I split the difference. Arranging one with open shelves in a more Montessori friendly style.
At first, I was not thrilled. It seemed like regardless of how focused on demonstration and the 3 part lesson I was, the toys on the Montessori shelves ended up all over the house. Then I started paying attention to scale. For example, initially I placed all of the sand paper letters in their holder in one of the cubbies. We would use the mat, accomplish the three part lesson and have great success. My little would even put the letters away and roll up the mat ... but then later that day I would discover sand paper letters being used as snowboards. While it was thrilling ... I was growing tired of finding myself flying across my living room courtesy of a pile of sand paper letters all over the floor.
My solution was to scale sandpaper letters back to 3 or 4 focus letters in a tray. The result quietly but somehow dramatically changed the way I planned what was in our Montessori inspired cubbies. I began to be much more intentional about ensuring that the complete activity but nothing more was in each cubby. What's amazing ... is the planned environment did truly become another teacher in the room. Now the Montessori inspired cubbies are almost always the neatest and most used of our toys.
I still love our binned cubbies for storage. The littles have inspired play while grabbing toys out of them. They also give me a great "Oh my gosh who is at the door storage spot". But ultimately I now do believe they are a little more challenging to keep tidy than the Montessori cubbies. I can't believe I'm saying that! But it's true.
The new paradigm ... Binned Cubbies = Great Accessible Storage : Montessori Inspired Cubies = Fun Learning in a Little Cubby!