Monday, September 22, 2014

Montessori Work - What is it? Is it trays?

Montessori is not "on a tray".

There are SOME activities organized into a tray for the children's use; these tend to be for the very new and the very young.

They progress away from this set-up very quickly in primary; in elementary, they use empty trays to go collect all the items they need to bring back to their work space.

Even in primary, the children will need to go elsewhere in the environment to collect items to finish their work set-up (items to be polished, for example, should not be placed next to the polishing trays - the children should be polishing items from all around the environment).



Neither is this on a tray: 
 Or anything around it:

None of this stuff is on a tray:
this was before I added more horizontal shelves....
even then, there was one tray, organizing some language stuff -
a basket really. It stayed on the shelf and the children took the cards they wanted. 
 No trays here:

There is a writing tray on the one desk there: aha! A TRAY!!!

MORE TRAYS! Can you spot them? They are in the back corner, so the elementary children can collect their supplies and bring them to their work area.

We do have mats.... lots of those!
Maybe Montessori is Mats.

2 trays: one with the number bead bars 1-9; the other is used for transporting golden bead materials from another shelf to the.... MAT.

NO trays! For all that math!

Wow. So few trays (most are in practical life, unpictured here, not sure where the pictures went). And this is actually a genuine Montessori environment. With so few trays?
Oh yeah! Montessori is MATS. (that is said tongue-in-cheek - Montessori is actually not mats either).


  1. I love this! Aside from a few trays that I use for my youngest, who is three, to keep his work on, I don't find myself with too many,either. I'm sure you're probably thinking *duh* :) My big kids would look at me like I was a little silly for asking them to carry work on a tray from the shelf to the table. We have mats - sort of - shelf liner that I cut in to small mats. The only one that feels it necessary to use them most of the time is my youngest, except for when I am doing a group lesson with the big ones and the mat then becomes part of the focal point, and not the workspace, for the lesson. My kids have honestly never been big mat users, so I haven't pushed it as much as probably I could/should have. :) Great post - loved it!

    1. Thank you! Someone told me it sounded snarky, it was actually intended to be like a fun, excited trip around the environment. Either way, I've been wanting to share this for a while because of how many people say to me, "oh yeah, we do Montessori, we have a shelf with some trays."

      Mats are for delineating a work space and/or protecting surfaces. In schools they should be used to help others learn to walk around someone else's work. At home, wherever needed/appropriate ;) We use them for messy things at home and when we have some work out that has a variety of components to keep things organized.