The Prepared Classroom

Montessori classrooms are set up in “prepared environments,” which are work centers according to subjects. Children are allowed to choose which subject they would like to study and do not have to sit at desks to work. There are no fluorescent lights, and in most rooms that I’ve observed, they’ve used natural light with windows and doors open. There were several lamps placed around the room for cloudy days. I’ve seen plants and animals in every Montessori classroom we’ve visited. There have been corners filled with pillows for chairs, benches in windowsills for reading, recycling bins next to trash cans, nature inspired manipulatives, and children’s artwork displayed in place of maps and posters.

Eco manipulatives
Image © SASsoftware

Classroom Materials

Montessori manipulatives are meant to stimulate all of the senses, so they are generally wooden, bright colors, and eco-minded. You can also find metal, wicker, fabric and nature inspired materials like bird nests. The manipulatives are meant to grow with the child, so you will see many of the materials reused in different classrooms. Instead of having imaginative play areas, Montessori allows the child to take a hands on, real life approach. You will find a kitchen area where children learn how to prep and cook basic meals instead of a play kitchen. Children also rarely rely on text books to learn their lessons. Traditional school text books are reprinted every few years and the old books are discarded, which is a huge waste.

Children planting a Montessori garden
Image © stevendepolo


Montessori schools teach children how to garden, compost, care for the earth, and reuse water through rain barrels. The children help beautify and take care of the school grounds. They are responsible for planting flowers, fruits, and veggies. One of the schools that I toured even had a weekend farmers market that the families ran. The children eat a healthier diet since they want to eat more of the foods that they are growing.

Children eating lunch at Montessori school
Image © JustTooLazy

Montessori Lunchrooms

Montessori school lunches are much different than the traditional lunch room. Teachers eat lunch with their students, children clean up after themselves, in most schools there is no set lunch time, most children pack and bring their own lunches, and they also eat from their garden. When I toured one school, they were eating strawberries and yogurt for a snack. I love that they weren’t being fed juice boxes and junk food.

Community Montessori
Image © JustTooLazy


One of the most admirable things about Montessori is that it is a community within a school. Parents are expected to volunteer and stay active in the classrooms. They get together on the weekends at the school and host farmers’ markets or other family events. Parents are welcome to join their children for lunches, class activities, help with school projects like newsletters and building the gardens. Not only do the parents play active roles in this community, but the children form their own young community within the classroom. When I was observing, I noticed that the children were teaching each other. There were older children helping the younger ones. I saw small groups discussing how to do something without the teacher jumping in. It was interesting to see all of the ways that they connected.You can read more about Montessori below!

+ American Montessori Society

+ Montessori Facts

+ International Montessori

+ Montessori Foundation

Montessori preschool class Lead image from Shutterstock