I love our Montessori playgroup. It is situated in a gorgeous suburb (Auchenflower) in Brisbane in an old church hall.
As you walk up to the building you see the flowers and plants to water and care for where the toddlers can peg little signs that say “I have been watered”. There is a large sandpit outside with real, child-sized tools (shovels, buckets, rakes, sifts, shells, etc) and minimal plastic.
Next to the sandpit is an art area with smocks and a child-sized easel with a couple of pots of paint and a little wooden clothes line to hang artwork to dry, cloths and the art smocks. The little ones are also working on a new sponge activity (the table and chair) where they transfer water with a sponge as a pre-cursor for cleaning tables.
Before they go inside the children are encouraged to brush any sand off their feet/shoes and to remove their shoes by themselves. Cameron can undo the velcro on his shoes but gets frustrated with removing them at this stage. One of his favourite activities is to wash the windows which has meant I have brought him a squirt bottle for home to practice.
When you walk in the door you find beautiful wooden floors, high ceilings, lovely lighting and a thoughtfully set out large area. There are many child-sized sets of wooden tables and chairs for activities and one bigger set up for snacks which always has freshly picked flowers in a little vase.
There is a small broom, mop, dusters, pan & brushes, watering cans, gardening tools and sponges/cloths and then the cutlery/crockery/placemats/etc in the practical life area.
The little ones can pour themselves a glass of water, juice an orange or cut up fruit at any time.
Cam is encouraged to wash up after any drink or snack and to help take care of the environment around him.
There are ever-changing activities that go with themes for the term or month (this term is sea-life). There are various arts and crafts as well as the typical wooden montessori materials (object permanence boxes, stackers, puzzles, nesting objects, container/lid combinations, wooden toys, balls, etc)
The infant area is lovely with tonnes of age appropriate toys, different montessori mobiles and a mirror at their eye level. Cameron likes the ball runs next to it and the books which are rotated too.
There is simple artwork at the childrens eye level as well.
The nature table changes with the seasons and themes. The littlies are encouraged to explore the different textures/sizes/smells/etc of shells, seeds, pods, pine cones, leaves, nuts, flowers, bark and what not. There are a couple of fish too! We are donating a bigger fish tank for the gold fish 🙂
There is an adults library too and every playgroup finishes with shared story and song time with instruments. The tots pick out their own songs/rhymes that have corresponding images so they know what they are before reading (i.e. farm picture for Old Macdonald). It’s so lovely.
I love that Cameron doesn’t even realise he is developing skills (emotional, physical, intellectual, social, etc) and learning. He so enjoys himself and he is already so comfortable there.
I have him down on the waiting list at a local C & K kindergarten but I’m contemplating getting him on the waiting list for their affiliated C & K Montessori kindy (out the back of this playgroup). It’s hard, there are positives and negatives for either choice.
I hope you enjoyed a little peak into our Montessori playgroup. For more information on the Montessori method, I recommend googling the montessori sites in your country and the Montessori playgroups/preschools/schools in your area.