Starting a Montessori inspired home in a one bedroom apartment

Before hungrybaby entering the toddlerhood (whoa.. time flies! She's almost 18 months now-my last post was when she was 9 months old!) I read many references about Charlotte Mason for her nature play, sensory activities and that leads me to Montessori books too. As an introduction, the Montessori Program focuses on five areas:
  • Practical Life for Toddlers
  • Sensory Training
  • Language
  • Art
  • Music
Montessori learning for babies and toddler, from the book "Montessori early years curriculum"

And a good environment for a toddler to develop (from the mind to the social to the physical) according to Montessori is a prepared environment which includes : 
  • Aesthetically pleasing/beauty
  • Order (Everything has its place, group of type of toys, such as: music, practical life, etc)
  • Reality (Use of natural materials and a calm play environment) 
  • Simplicity (An excellent background for learning),
  • Accessibility (Encourage independence, children can easily get and return the materials, furniture is child size, and materials are rotated in small Montessori set-ups)
It's a turning point for me when I read about it. This was hungrybaby's toy & book shelves looked like :

Is it :
Aesthetically pleasing? Don't think so
- Have order? No
Also the reality, simplicity and accessibility aspects, I think all answer are No.

At first, I was hesitate to set up a Montessori inspired home, because when I searched on the internet, the results were :

Image is from here

Image is from here

Image is from here

Image is from here

I mean.. look at those play rooms, they are gigantic, almost as big as my whole house ^0^

I live in a one bedroom apartment (in Singapore is popular with the term 2 Room apartment), with area approx. 42 m2, and I rent it. Other than space constraint, I also have "sense of belonging issue" to the place I stayed now, rental fee is annually rising up, and we must prepare to look for affordable place at times. The third issue is I accustomed with "hoarding" habit, it runs in the family, we don't throw out things. The last issue was the budget; the trays, natural baskets, wooden toys and materials are seem overwhelming. 

Luckily, I came across these images too, which convinced me that the Montessori ideas is doable :
Image is from here

Image is from here

Image is from here

As we can see, big play room is not a must, and the prepared environment can be incorporated with other area such as living room, dining room, or bedroom. And for the materials, we can look for lobang, cheaper alternatives here in Singapore, or diy alternatives (check out livingmontessorinow )

Another book I read was Toddler on the move which says "One of the greatest gift you can give to your toddler is undivided attention". How can I give undivided attention if I spent my time in never ending cleaning, and always in the battle of cleaning up messy toys.

Then I realized, why most of the time the house is messy:
- We have too many stuff
- No designated play area, so the toys are spreading everywhere in the house, and I am not able start the habit of clean up the toys after playing, since it is confusing even for me.

So I did a revolutionary act :
- Sorting unused items: the hardest part was newborn things that I kept. It is better to donate them than wait for baby brother/sister which we're not in the planning yet. Also for my clothes, which I am not sure when I will be able to wear them again, since it's too small, and lots of books we need to clear to give space for hungrybaby's books.
- Furniture arrangement : we move one of our book shelf to make space for hungrybaby's space in the living room and maximize the storage at our kitchen/laundry area.
- Storage arrangement : I bought boxes and containers, one the key of organizing is to make place for everything, and categorizing them, especially the daily stuff needed space that is easy to reach.

And voila... hungrybaby now have her play area with a Montessori touch :)

The shelf is located at our living/dining room

Top row : Corn basket for legos, books, and pillow boxes for language and sensory area
Middle : Mirror, wooden tray 1: rolled up piano, and wooden maracas, for music area. Wooden tray2: lacing apple and a tin with wooden pegs inside for practical life skill
Below : a box with hat, apron, backpack for role play and practical life skill. And lacing beads for sensory and fine motor skill.

Now she can easily access her toys

I put aside all her other toys in container boxes, and organizing them for easy rotation.

She also has a floor table as a working/dining table and using her booster seat for the chair.

Well, this is just the beginning for her exploration in a prepared environment. And as for me, to build a new habit to keep the house in shape.


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Anonymous said…
Good sharing..I live in sg too and I just started to research into starting a Montessori inspired home for my 8 month old son. Looking forward to more posts from you. Cheers
hungry mama said…
Hi, thank you for dropping by :)
It will be a lot of fun with your baby!

Here are some links of other posts that are Montessori related:

Where to buy affordable montessori materials in Singapore

Montessori inspired daily activity (for 18 months old)