How to Set Up a Montessori Work Space

We spend much of our day in the living room, so a large section of it is devoted to L’s workspace.  In the Montessori classroom, the materials that children use are called “works.”  This is because, just like with the choices we made for L’s bedroom, each material has a specific purpose.  The child works with each material to develop a specific skill.  Some of the works are trays I designed based on Montessori principles and L’s interests (I’ll show some later!), similar to what you would see in a classroom, and some are simply toys that you can buy at any store.

The most important thing to consider when designing a workspace for your toddler is size.  Children need to be able to reach their materials, and to work with them in a safe space!  This is why Montessori materials are placed on shelves that young children can reach.  Each work is placed on its own tray or container  — no toy boxes filled with multiple materials! — as each is meant to be used by itself.  When a child “completes the work cycle,” she is able to choose a material from the shelf, bring it to the table or work rug, use the material, and then return it to the shelf where it belongs.  L is only 15 months old, but she already has a handle on bringing her work to the table.  She will usually “take it back” — the language we use in our home, because for some reason L recognizes it’s meaning — after a simple reminder.  In a few months, she will be able to complete the work cycle by herself.


L’s table and chair are just her size, providing the optimal place for her to do her work comfortably.  In a few months, I will introduce the work rug for larger floor works, but for now she is doing great at the table.  L enjoys having a space that she can use all by herself, without needing any help to get in her chair.