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January 19, 2023

Montessori Home: Second Plane Art Area

It's hard for me to believe that we have three children in different phases of the second plane of development. H is creeping quickly toward the third plane of development, Nora is solidly a second plane child and Gus is in transition from the first to the second plane. In my mind they are all solidly still toddlers, but the reality is, my kids are getting older. And, as a Montessori parent, that means my role in preparing the environment is changing too. 

Our Montessori Art Area Problem 

A couple of months ago, we made a big shift in our family's art area. My kids love to create art and even my bigs can frequently be found spending much of their free time in creative pursuits. For year, our art area has been the hub of their activity. But, recently it just was constantly...a mess. My kids were really struggling to maintain order in the small space. They no longer needed the small practical life area, but needed better access to their tools and supplies. 

As I was brainstorming the problem, I realized it was because I was still preparing the space for first plane of development children. Children that have a solid sense of order and needed the small trays and structure that the space brought. But, that wasn't my kids anymore. 

Montessori Art Area for Elementary Kids

So my solution was, ditch the first plane art area, and make this really a space that works for my older kids. Here are a few ways we did that: 

Themed Baskets 

Gone are the little trays with each tool or supply. Instead, I moved to three themed baskets. One for general writing and creating, one for painting, and one for handcrafts. The baskets have very little order, but they do have everything that is available to our kids right now in that general art medium. The can search through the baskets for what they want, and then just return to the basket when they are done. They don't need to sort or be too specific about where things go once they are done with the project. Heres a few ideas of what each basket includes: 

General: fancy crayons, letter stamps and ink, scissors, compass, stickers
Handcrafts: beads, various looms, knitting fork, fabric scraps, clay
Painting: brushes, jars and water pitchers, paint rollers, various types of paint

This honestly has worked so so well. The kids can return things easily to their baskets and the room stays fairly put together. There's still some order so it's not impossible to find stuff and mostly this covers everything they need for everyday projects.

Higher Shelves 

Instead of using smaller shelves, and lower shelves on the wall, I moved to a larger and taller shelf. This keeps the baskets out of Penelope's reach. I left the top set of wall shelves so that the kids could access the most used writing materials super quickly - regular pencils, color pencils, and stabilos

It also gave me some toddler-proof space on top of the shelf for some work for Gus and Nora. This is where I can set out some special work and introduce new tools for them. Right now, it has served as a good place to put any academic work that they are working on at home. 

What about babies and toddlers? 

We still have younger kids here too, and they still need a more structured access to art materials. So, I've moved those materials to the shelves in their playroom. It's providing a best of both world's situation right now. So, Teddy and Penelope can use their materials in their playroom, and the big kids get what they need. I still left practical life work on the bottom of the shelf for everyone to access, since this space is in our kitchen. 

It's been a big shift for us away from how our home has looked for the last several years, but it is working so well. Montessori at home in the second plane is such a fun journey and making spaces more accessible to my big kids has been really helpful! 

How have you shifted your spaces for your older kids? 


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