Monday, April 25, 2011

Montessori-Inspired Quiet Time and Bedtime Book Shelf System

Care of environment. Independence. These are two key components of Montessori-inspired living for little ones.  Recently we have been practicing both of these through organizing and using our new Quiet Time and Bedtime Book Shelf system

You see, the other morning when I walked into the kids’ room. it did not look nearly as decluttered as it had when I had left for work the night before. Luckily, it was just a matter of clothes, books and a few toys scattered about which created the mini-disaster look. It was easily taken care of as we focused our family work time efforts that morning on neatening and vacuuming the room, as well as on identifying and solving some of its “problems”.

One Problem: Books, books, everywhere!

Our Solution: Limits and Labels

The kids and I looked at where we house books in their room and talked about how many books should go there. I wanted six; the kids wanted more. We settled on eight, which is two more than comfortably fits on the magazine rack-turned-book shelf that we scored from neighbors who were tossing it, but the number that made the kids feel an initial sense of ownership over the project.

Then, we talked about what types of books we should have there. Since we already were in the habit of keeping books related to seasons, special interests and our Core Four (reading, writing, arithmetic and  faith formation) in the room, this decision came easily. We decided on:

  • a chapter book and a faith-formation book
  • a letters book, an art-based book and a numbers book
  •  a choice book for each child

Limits set, it was time for labels.  I made a template and Luke decided which graphics to put into it as picture-cues for our pre-readers.  I then cut the labels out and helped the kids tape them into place where they felt they should go.   Again, the kids developed a sense of ownership over the project/system through choosing graphics and taping labels up themselves.

From there, the kids selected books that fit each category and put them away -- slipping in some math-based one-to-one correspondence, along with obvious teamwork and care of environment skills.

Once we counted eight books in place, we saw there were more books in the room than there were places for them on the shelf.  So, after a few spontaneous moments of simple addition and subtraction with books, Nina raced out of the room with the extras to put them in the living room book basket.

Then, just to solidify the new system, we practiced! We took books out and scattered them about the room. Then, at the call of “tidy time” the kids put them away independently.

Evaluation of the System
Since creating the system, the kids have been doing fair job at limiting the amount of books in their room to eight and keeping them in their designated spaces, although some morning after I have been at work, I still find a couple books on the floor instead of back in the book case. That, I think, is just a matter of getting Daddy and the kids into the habit of putting back bedtime book during our 5 T's.

Besides that, it's been so far, so good with this little organizational project. The new system is helping keep the kids’ room tidier, giving us some everyday math practice and offering the kids an opportunity to show their independence and ability to care for their environment.

Plus, it's been cute before bedtime some nights to see Luke and Nina take their personal choice books out of the case, walk out to the living room book basket and swap them out for other books which they would like read at bedtime.  I guess we can add decision-making skills to the list of natural learning that our little Quiet Time and Bedtime Book shelf revamp has included.

This post is being shared at One Hook Wonder's Montessori Monday since our bookshelf project is inspired by Montessori influences.  Check the links there for other Montessori-inspired work and projects.


Ligia said...

I love this idea....our little one has quiet time and reading time before's something we have done since he was 1 ( he's now 5).

XYZZ said...

Great idea! Looks like your littles love it. Thanks for linking up to Montessori Monday! :)


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