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September 19, 2023

Montessori Home: Skip the Seasonal Decorations

Fall is here! Change is in the air, and pumpkin spice is everywhere. With these changes, store fronts are filled with all the seasonal decorations you could want. Fake pumpkins, wreaths made of fabric leaves, halloween everything. And, I'll be the first to admit some of it is really cute. And, yes, I have a favorite fall scented candle and soap. 

But, in recent years, I've also tried to become a much more conscious consumer of these types of decorations and have come to love skipping many of them in favor of a slower and more natural approach. Now, I want to be clear that we still own and use some artificial decorations - especially for holidays. However, there are, I think, some compelling reasons to consider alternatives within your Montessori home. 

Small toddler reaches on to Montessori play shelf for a small real pumpkin instead of artificial decorations

Why Skip Artificial Decoration in Your Montessori Home?

There are a lot of reasons I choose to skip many artificial decorations for seasonal and holiday changes in our Montessori home. Here are a few to consider:  

  • Better for the earth: less plastic, less consumerism 
  • Concrete learning: Young children learn through concrete experiences and we can influence that learning by what we choose to place in our environment. Choosing real examples can give our children a deeper sensorial, and physical connection to the changes
  • Can be Explored: Many artificial decorations are pretty fragile. They are designed to be looked at and not touched. Alternatives can be explored more deeply by children.
  • No need to store: No need to take up a lot of space in your home when the season is over, return them to nature, compost, or eat.
  • Relevant to Your Climate/Culture/Experience: what is relevant in our home may not be relevant in yours. No need to add fall leaves and pumpkins if that doesn't actually fit what your children experience day-to-day. 

Montessori Home: So What Could We Use Instead?

Just because we are skipping some of the seasonal decorations, doesn't mean we can't mark or celebrate the changes in our home. We can still celebrate with the types of art we make, the music we listen to, the food we eat, the activities we engage in. And, yes, we can even make some seasonal changes relevant to ourselves inside the home. I really enjoy bringing nature in and letting it share the joy of the season with us. Some ideas (relevant to my midwestern U.S. experience):

  • Spring: Flowers, bulbs, sprouts, egg shells, feathers 
  • Summer: Flowers, rocks, sea glass, shells, herbs 
  • Autumn: small pumpkins/gourds, bare sticks/branches, colorful leaves 
  • Winter: evergreen branches, citrus fruits 

So, we'll be skipping fall decorations this year, and adding a pumpkin here and a leaf garland there. Slow and steady changes that work with our environment, provide concrete and sensory heavy experiences for our children. So far, Penelope is into it! 

How about you? How are you bringing the seasonal changes into your Montessori home? 

When everything is pumpkins and ghosts and fall, we are skipping the decorations in our Montessori home. Here's what we are doing instead!

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Megan said…
We do something similar! I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book Welcome Home by Myquillin Smith, but there is a lot of resonance between your approaches (although of course you are coming from the Montessori perspective). We are about to go get some interesting pumpkins and gourds for this year, and I think some mums, but other than that we lean hard on differences in smell (candles lol), food, and sound - I find I’m in the mood for very different music in fall than in spring, for instance.
Love this post, especially how you point out that so much fancy decor is not meant to be touched - why introduce points of tension into the home?
Meredith said…
I think this is wonderful! I've made this approach to the holidays and seaons just because of my minimalist leanings and trying not to clutter our already too small house. But it's great that you are putting this in the perspective of the child and the prepared environment. Also, in my opinion, I feel those "decorations" can be a tad too tacky for my taste anyway. Thanks you for sharing this and all of your posts- I love them!
Anonymous said…
Hi I just descovered your blog and really enjoy the way you approach montessori in a light wau. I've sen too many blog or IG account full of toys, seasonnal decor and thematic. I'm a french caregiver/nanny and try to follow tje very interest of child and ruthm. So I really go away from seasonnal decore. We descover seasons in real life : garden, forest,fields. Kids collect natural elements they create the treasures box and then play with.
I only prepare an activities after seing them play.
Reading your article was a reiief for me.