If you’re a parent who’s new to Montessori-style education or parenting, you probably don’t know where to start. But the fact that you’re here reading this article means you’re on the right track! Trying to learn more about the best way to organize your kids’ toys and books is a good first step to take. This is especially true if you have no idea where to begin.
If you make a quick internet search about Montessori toy shelves on Pinterest or Instagram, it can be quite easy to feel overwhelmed. The photos you’ll see over there are all so perfect, quite honestly speaking. They look very pleasant to the eyes, and with good reason. However, know that in real life, not everything is always spick and span — even in Montessori homes.
Fortunately, even if you can’t always duplicate these Insta-worthy photos, you can still live the Montessori life the way it’s supposed to be lived: simple and straightforward. After all, it’s not supposed to look perfect all the time! Keep on reading below to learn more about Montessori shelves, how to set them up, what to look for when buying one, and our top recommendations based on fellow parents’ reviews and feedback.
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Quick Picks: The Top-Rated Montessori Shelf
In a hurry? Check our best pick above, or keep reading for product reviews and buying guide!
What Is A Montessori Shelf?
A Montessori shelf is a basic toy or bookshelf for children that follows the basic principles of the Montessori Method, which we will talk about later. The purpose of this shelf is to give kids a fulfilling environment that supports their innate motivation to learn and discover through play.
It allows them to have a more “visible” option for keeping and organizing their toys. It is easily accessible because it is built for their age. More importantly, it gives them the chance to choose the toys they are going to play with. Finally, it is not supposed to overwhelm them with too much information.
How Should I Set Up My Montessori Playroom Shelf?
1. Remove the clutter.
This is the first step, of course! Grab a bin or trash bag and organize which stuff needs to be thrown out and which can be donated. Broken toys can be thrown out. Toys which your kids have outgrown can be donated to charities or given away.
2. Assemble the shelf.
While toy boxes are most parents’ go-to solution for storing toys, they don’t provide as much visibility as a shelf. Kids aren’t motivated to organize their things accordingly and end up simply throwing everything into the box. A Montessori shelf promotes responsibility and independence – core values taught in Montessori education. It also provides an activity they can do on their own easily.
3. Rotation is key.
Toy rotation is a great system to avoid overwhelming kids with too many toy options. This means you only put out a handful of toys at a given time. Place one puzzle, book, or activity in each compartment or bin. This environment is suitable for learning. With each rotation, kids find a renewed sense of excitement for their toys because they haven’t played with them for some time.
4. Build a conducive environment.
Make the space cozy and minimalist – but this doesn’t mean you need to strip it of its character! Add some plants, art, and baskets that are height-appropriate for your child. Make the area ideal for learning and curiosity. Plus, of course, use natural materials to complement the Montessori shelf and toys.
Montessori Shelf Buying Guide
Even if we know your Montessori home doesn’t have to be the perfect picture, we would all want to keep it as conducive for learning and organized as possible. This is not only visually pleasant for you and your kids, it will also be safer for everyone. You won’t want your kids to simply stuff toys and books on the one shelf just because they can.
Shelves don’t have to be costly, too! Later, we’ll highlight some shelves from all price ranges that you can choose from. A few of these are quite cheap but provide excellent storage and organization. Alternatively, you can hit nearby thrift stores or garage sales if you’re on a budget. Simply use our guide below to have a good idea of what factors to keep in mind when choosing.
If you’re only starting to build a Montessori home, don’t get overwhelmed with the pressure of having everything you need at once. Take it one step at a time and enjoy the process. Starting with shelves, baskets, or other storage options is a good starting point.
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Montessori Shelf
Here are a few things to help you make a choice, depending on your kids’ age and developmental stages.
Babies and Toddlers
- Make sure the shelf is firmly resting on the ground. It also has to be super low to match the kids’ height and reach.
- The shelf needs to be sturdy. At this age, kids will use the shelf to pull themselves up and hold onto while climbing or cruising along. A durable, non-wobbly shelf won’t topple over or cause any harm to your kids.
- Preschoolers are a bit bigger and will require taller shelves. You’ll want something that’s right in their line of sight to give them easy access so they can see and choose from their toys.
- It’s also helpful to have sturdy shelves since your kids are stronger and bigger now. You don’t want something that topples over.
- Many parents prefer open shelves because they make storing and organizing larger items easier.
- At this point, it’s smart to invest in a shelf that can be adjusted accordingly as your children grow over time.
- When kids enter elementary school, they are more inclined to play with tinier toys with smaller parts, such as art supplies and LEGO pieces. During this age, you can go with shelves that aren’t as short, open, and flexible.
Top 5 Best Montessori Shelf
- Sturdy and strong wood ensures you’ll enjoy the shelf for a long time
- Can be easily reached by one-year-olds and toddlers
- Color fits in nicely with most rooms
- The wheels of the cabinet don’t have locks
- The shelves are heavier towards the back portion, which can make them tip over if you put too much weight in certain parts
- There is a sticker of the company’s name on the front which some parents find unsightly
This Angeles Value Line shelf is so versatile in terms of size, you can place it anywhere in your home. It’s also one of the more affordable options out there.
- It is quite smaller than the others in this list, which means it’s ideal for tiny apartments and rooms. Still, it can hold plenty of items inside it.
- It is made with thick and durable panels with a tough scratch-resistant and stain-resistant finish.
- Because it’s on the budget-friendly side, you’ll need to assemble it on your own. Fortunately, the instructions are very clear. You’ll also get the required tools and items to set it up on your own.
We recommend this shelf for toddlers and preschoolers. The combination of the bookshelf with a reading nook makes it convenient for them to delve into their favorite stories or activities and learn on their own.
- This case holds a lot of books. You don’t need to worry about its ability to hold the weight because it’s very well-made.
- You’ll need to assemble it on your own, but it’s a very easy process that shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
- It is also packaged safely and properly by the manufacturer, so you’re guaranteed to receive it in top shape.
- The cubbies seem to fit into a regular bin, but they don’t. You may need to purchase a separate pack of bins for the bottom to get them to fit.
- All of the instructions are illustrations, which not all prefer. Still, they are very clear and easily understandable. You’ll find pictures for each step so you can follow along quite well.
This is a surefire hit for both parents and kids. It looks good and is sturdy enough for your storage needs. It’s also on the more affordable side of things, which makes a lot of parents love it.
- All you need is a screwdriver to install the entire thing. It would take about 15 minutes, tops. You can mount it on the wall, if you prefer, or leave it free. The holes have been pre-drilled and can easily be lined up with the corresponding rods.
- The colors are appealing to kids and adults alike.
- The panels, sides, and bins are very durable and sturdy. The wood comes blemish-free, too.
- Expect to receive it in perfect condition. The proper packaging makes sure there are no cracks or bent pieces.
- It is affordable without compromising on the quality. The parts are even bigger than they seem in the photos.
- No drawbacks reported with this item.
This bookshelf with storage cases and a reading nook comes from Amazon itself. It looks great, has a competitive quality in terms of function and durability, and has a nice price tag.
- The bookcase itself is made with solid wood. It is quite lightweight but still sturdy.
- You get a bolt that you can use to attach the shelf to the wall to prevent it from tipping over.
- The items are packaged properly and seamlessly fit together upon installation.
- It provides several functions that your kids will enjoy.
- It comes at a reasonable price for a versatile item.
- There is a bead board sticker on the back portion of one of the panels, which is challenging to remove without damaging the wood’s finish.
How many toys should I give my children?
This is a common question from parents. Toddlers will usually be given as much as 300 pieces of building blocks just because that’s what comes in the bag. The truth is that they won’t need more than 20. These are enough to create a tower, tip it over, and rebuild. Place these in a bin and store the rest of the pieces for later. This prevents overcrowding your shelves. Leave enough space between bins or baskets to make it easier for kids to return them after play.
Kids who are prone to making big messes after play time indicate you have too many toys out. I can’t tell you how many toys you should give them. Observe their behavior (such as “dumping’ toys and making a mess all the time) and they themselves will tell you if they’re having too many toys at their disposal.
Alternatively, choose one type of toy per category. Then rotate the toys per category. For instance, choose one puzzle at a time, one set of blocks at a time, and so on.
How do I choose which toys are best for my kids?
Choose toys that your kids love, that promote learning, are visually appealing to your kids, and are made of natural materials.
Avoid toys that are noisy, flashy, and require batteries to play as much as possible. Instead, choose toys that let out your kids’ curiosity, imagination, and creativity.
Any toys that are out of your rotation can be kept for later when they’re older. You can also consider giving them as donations to charities.
There are many kinds of toy shelves that will fit the qualities that we’ve mentioned earlier. Remember that you don’t have to accomplish all of this overnight. Do your research, avoid being overwhelmed with information, take it one step at a time, and enjoy the Montessori journey.
Some families take years before getting into a Montessori setup that works for them. If you’re new to this type of environment, you don’t have to throw everything out and buy totally new shelves right away.
Take it at your own pace. And if you are confused or overwhelmed, be sure to reach out to others who have done this before. You can also ask for help from Montessori educators or fellow parents from your kids’ school!