Thursday, July 21, 2011


Maria Montessori emphasizes the importance of beauty and order of a child's environment.  As a result he is not overstimulated and is better able to control, process, and order his own thoughts.  T and I desperately strive for a beautiful and orderly environment for ourselves, so we were excited to pass along this appreciation to J.  Likewise, we value not having a home where it is immediately apparent that we have a child (i.e. no toys strewn precariously about the room).  By having his toys displayed beautifully on the shelves, he is taught to appreciate and care for them.  In order to facilitate and foster this beauty and order, we began exposing J to this from day 1.

Here is our living room television stand and his shelving unit for toys.

We believe that all of J's playthings should be made from natural material, attractive to the eye, stimulating and encouraging the use of imagination.  While J has a few items made from plastic, most of his toys are made from wood.  The noise that they make are organic, visual, and beautiful.  Not pictured above is J's favorite rattle.  This rattle has a small bell secured between wooden slats.  He is able to shake and listen to this rattle, but he can also see the bell.  As such, he is able to make the connection of his motions to the ringing of the bell on the inside.

Coffee table with the top shelf holding adult books 
and on the bottom shelf books for J.  
Notice the artwork on the wall is hung at the eye level of a child.

We also believe in limiting J's book choices.  When children have too many books, they are overstimulated, not able to appreciate just one story.  When I go into a restaurant that has a menu 10 pages long, there are too many choices and I become frustrated and unable to decide what to order.  When I go into a restaurant that lists fewer choices, I have a much easier time deciding what to eat.  The same point is made here: fewer book choices will mean that the child will have an easier time choosing what to read, will revisit the book much more often, and have more of an appreciation for the book.

Granted, we live in a small urban apartment with closets long overflowing before J.  So as I discuss the ideal, we know that it is not always feasible.  What we do is strive for this type of environment always and everywhere in our home.  But, as you see here, we have too many books to be able to hide them away in the closet and rotate out when J is finished with one book.  We will try and make these books inaccessible to J when he is older and only bring them out to the shelf on the coffee table when he is ready for them.

Sidenote:  At one of my baby showers, each guest was to provide a book 
for J in lieu of a card that went with their gift.  
As a result, we have tons of books that are inscribed in honor of J.  
How lovely is that!?

And here is the little tyrant sweet boy himself, 
snacking and sucking on his wooden grasper.

How do you organize your child's toys?  Do you choose toys for any specific reasons?


Babylicious said...

First--can I tell you that I always wished I could have taken my teacher education one step further and done Montessori training?? The ideas have always just rung so true with me.

Anyway--we also try to keep a balance between LM's toys and keeping our house not look overrun by them. Some larger things..i.e. his swing, are integrated into our furniture arrangement so it doesn't immediately jump out/get in the way but at the same time is placed so that he is a part of the "conversation". We have the toys he's into right now in a small basket in his area or on the bottom shelf of a bookstore in the family room.

I love how your books are displayed! The ones in his room are a bit much (I love books!) and I should probably consider how to organize them so they aren't overwhelming as he grows. We keep our favorites in a little bucket by the rocker and a little bucket downstairs.

You've got my brain going!

Tyanne said...

I have thought this since I first visited your blog, but I think you have great taste! It is awesome to hear that you are making decisions with intention, even in the small things. I meant to tell you before, too, that I think your baby bathtub is brilliant. I didn't even know they made them like that!

Tattoos n' Diapers said...

I totally agree. We organize and keep our indoor and outdoor environment free of toy clutter. I'm a bit of a nazi when it comes time for my boy to pick up his toys and put them away appropriately. I also try to teach him proper care of his things. Great post and I love the pics :)

mestills said...

I am with you! I am limiting the amount of toys we have, if I feel we have too many I am just going to donate them. Besides that I have some toys in a tub in his room, but the ones he plays with now are in the living room on the bottom of a bookshelf. He doesn't have too many books so now they are all out in the living room on that shelf as well. But when we start accumulating more I will keep some in his room and some out in the living room. ( We spend most of our time in the living room, that is why those items are kept there).

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Emily said...

We're raising The Boy in a similar fashion. He picks up his own toys - which are displayed on a shelf similar to yours - and appears to have greater appreciation of toys/books than other children in his age group. We do not have toys all over our house, either. Everything has it's place. It's so important to teach children to pick things up and put them where they go at a young age. This should help them be more organized as adults.

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