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Monday, August 10, 2020

Montessori Shelves - What to Look For

After months at home, I've realized that sometimes four kids is a lot of kids! With a lot of kids comes a lot of Montessori shelves. And the number of Montessori shelves here in the Kavanaugh house just increased as we learned that our public Montessori are not reopening in person for at least some (but probably all) of this fall. This means we will be doing some combination of homeschooling/distance learning for the foreseeable future - this time with 2 kids at the elementary level! 

That's a whole post of it's own, but it's got me thinking about our catalogue of Montessori shelves. So I wanted to share our shelves and what I look for when considering shelves for each age group. 

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Baby/Young Toddler

When looking for shelves for babies and young toddlers, I look for 2 qualities. One, it has to be something super low or resting on the ground. This is important so that even the youngest of babies can reach in and use the shelf with ease. Two, it has to be super sturdy, because it will be used for pulling up on and cruising along (and probably climbed). I don't want any fear of something that will fall apart with that kind of physical use.

In our house, Teddy has two actual shelves at the moment.

Sprout Infant Shelf

This is my favorite infant shelf right now! It's wide open which allows for a nice variety of materials, it rests on the ground, and it's sturdy enough to handle baby/toddler use. 

A catalogue of shelves for your Montessori home. If you are getting started with Montessori, these are great options to consider to prepare a space.

This is Teddy's main shelf in our movement area in our playroom. 

Cube Shelf

Teddy also has a shelf in his bedroom. This is an old cube shelf from IKEA (similar to this shelf). 

A catalogue of shelves for your Montessori home. If you are getting started with Montessori, these are great options to consider to prepare a space.

The cubes are a nice way to separate each item but can be limiting for bigger materials. This isn't an issue in the bedroom space where we keep materials very simple. 

Older Toddler/Preschool+

As kids get bigger they need shelves that are a bit taller. These shelves bring materials to their eye line and help to make the materials more appealing. Again, I want something that is sturdy. But, I also want the shelves to be as open as possible (sorry cube shelves!) so that larger materials fit with ease. I also want something that adjusts so that they are flexible enough to meet our needs for a long time. 

Right now, Gus is in this stage and Nora is just leaving it. We have 2 kinds of shelves that they use.

Besta

This is legitimately my favorite shelf ever, and, hands down, the shelf we use the most. The quality is decent for the price, it's affordable, it can be used for so long, and it's super flexible. The height has been great for my kids, and they are open enough for even bigger, deeper materials. 

A catalogue of shelves for your Montessori home. If you are getting started with Montessori, these are great options to consider to prepare a space.

This is the shelf that we use from toddlerhood straight through elementary. They certainly aren't the greatest quality, but they have held up really well over the years. 

Sprout Luce

Our Luce shelf is currently in Gus and Nora's bedroom so it can fit either preschool or elementary levels well. I love that it is a high quality shelf with a beautiful design that could be at home in any adult space as well. The shelves are super open but fixed so less flexible. 

A catalogue of shelves for your Montessori home. If you are getting started with Montessori, these are great options to consider to prepare a space.

The quality of the Luce shelf is so far above IKEA shelves that I can't even compare them. This is a shelf that we could own for decades and that the kids can use right through high school! 

Elementary

In my experience, as kids move into and through elementary school, their materials tend to get smaller and smaller. They are playing with tiny loose parts or LEGO and art supplies. Their shelves don't need to be as open, as flexible, or as short. 

In our house, there is only one shelf in addition the Besta and Luce that Henry and Nora use. 

Billy

This is the newest shelf in our "collection." I got these specifically for our new homeschooling situation. Otherwise, we would have been fine using the Besta that we already owned. These shelves are cheaper than Besta and the quality is not as good. They are also taller, and more narrow. The shelves still move making them flexible. This should work well for Elementary materials (although I'm anticipating they will be narrow for a few things.) 

A catalogue of shelves for your Montessori home. If you are getting started with Montessori, these are great options to consider to prepare a space.

For the price, they were right for our current, and likely temporary, dive into homeschooling. 

There are lots of different types of shelves that will meet the qualities that I've laid out here. Also, remember that we didn't just get all of these shelves overnight. We have had years and years to get a shelf here and there as we have had needs arise. So, if you are a new Montessori family, don't feel like you need to drop everything and buy 10 shelving options. 

What's your favorite kid's shelf for your children? 
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Would you like to comment?

NM said...

We love our sprout infant shelf! My 2 1/2 year old has outgrown it but it’s amazing for my 7 mo old who is pulling to stand. We have a small space in our living room and I’m wondering if there’s a shelf that would best serve both kids? I love the sturdiness and access the sprout infant shelf provides but it’s no longer serving my toddler.

Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report said...

Besta would definitely work for a baby and a toddler too! Sprout also has some other great options that sit very low to the floor but have higher shelves.