It is my pleasure to introduce you to Simone Davies from Jacaranda Tree Montessori. Simone runs a lovely Montessori playgroup in Amsterdam. She is treating us today with a detailed tour of her beautiful space. I am in love with her design aesthetic and gorgeous light in her room! Enjoy the tour and be sure to stop by her blog to say hello!
A TOUR OF A MONTESSORI TODDLER CLASSROOM IN AMSTERDAM
I am super excited to be guest posting here today and to share a tour of my classroom here in Amsterdam. I adore working with toddlers and their parents helping them to introduce Montessori into their daily lives. And I love our space. Come look around!
We are so lucky to rent this beautiful space. It feels like zen every time I arrive in the space. I love the neutral floor and walls so the children are really drawn into the activities around the classroom. There is lots of space to move, including a little outside area too. I have classes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but today it’s ready for our toddlers – children aged from around 15 months to 3 years.
Once you enter, first is the language area. There is space here for 8 vocabulary baskets and a selection of English and Dutch books.
There are 4 types of baskets:
1. The easiest have just objects for the children to explore, for example, a suitcase with summer clothing, or perhaps a basket of things you would take camping.
2. Then we have baskets with objects and matching cards, for example, kitchen utensils and then photos of these exact objects for the children to match.
3. The next difficulty is objects with similar cards. At the moment, one of the baskets has insects and then pictures of these insects in real life.
4. And the final type are just cards – continuing to build the child’s vocabulary.
The children are just like sponges in this age group – they have what Dr Montessori called “an unconscious absorbent mind”. So we are learning to use rich language with them as much detail as possible. For example, they love learning all the breeds of dogs, the names of different construction vehicles etc.
Next you will see our kitchen area. This is a buzzing hub of the classroom where the children are welcome to make a snack any time during the session.
The children can choose to spread crackers, cut bananas, make orange juice or peel and slice apples.
They learn to set the table – all the plates, glasses and cutlery are on a low shelf that they can access easily. Once they have made their snack, they come to sit at the table to eat, a great spot for children to observe others in the classroom.
And they learn quickly to pack away the dirty dishes to the washing up trolley. During the class, an older child often enjoys washing the dishes in our dish washing area. It’s a simple low shelf with two washing up bowls (one for soapy water and one for rinsing water), a drying rack, and underneath you find the aprons, a jug for filling the bowls, a bucket for emptying the bowls, and lots of towels :).
Art and Craft Area
The art and craft activities are located next to a large window giving beautiful light to work by. The children can choose from a variety of activities ranging from drawing and painting, to gluing and cutting, and the always popular play dough or kinetic sand. Older children also enjoy sewing with a simple sewing card, darning needle and thread.
I love how the children use this space. It’s all set up for them to help themselves. If they are busy practising cutting strips, they will find more in the small sets of drawers. They can get some more as they need to and are able to keep practising.
You can also see by the easel, there is an apron ready for them to put on, wet cloths for wiping the board, floor or their hands, and (to the right) there is a drying rack with pegs for the completed paintings. The older children manage most of these steps themselves. And the adult steps in when a child needs some assistance.
Gross Motor Movement
In addition to the movement built into activities like fetching water for hand washing, flower arranging and the like, I like to have an area where the children can move their bodies. The green balance beam can be configured into different shapes and the children begin by walking with one foot on the balance beam, then perhaps holding an adult’s hand for assistance, and then balancing all by themselves.
I’ve also made a simple book of my children doing yoga with poses for the children to copy. They love to try these on the yoga mats which are always at the ready.
Fine Motor Skills
If you keep going into the classroom, you find an area with two shelves of activities to work the child’s eye-hand coordination. We have a variety of puzzles, purses to open and close, a lock box, and activities for posting and nesting.
The activities are set up on trays or baskets so the child can easily carry them to a table or mat. This coin posting activity is the most popular activity in the classroom, perfect for children from around 16 months, and the lock and key keep it challenging for children over 2 years.
The children love playing music in the classroom. We have a beautiful xylophone that was passed on from a Dutch family that we adore. And a changing display of musical instruments to try. I also like to end our classes with a singing time – simple action songs with lots of movement for toddlers.
We have a small but well-used outside area. The children water plants, scrub the decking, clean the windows and do lots of sweeping. In the summer months, they love playing with water too. And in winter, they put on their coats and boots and head out regardless of the weather.
So that’s it. A quick tour of our classroom. I hope you enjoyed looking around. If you are ever in Amsterdam, feel free to come and visit us!
And thanks again to Seemi for inviting me to show you around. It has been fun to share our space with you. I hope you find it inspiring.
About Simone Davies
Simone Davies loves putting Montessori into practice. She is a qualified 0-3 Montessori teacher through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and mother of two children who attended Montessori preschool and primary school. She is from Australia and lives in the Netherlands where she runs a Montessori playgroup for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in Amsterdam. Visit her website here: www.jacarandatreemontessori.nl/blog.
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