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Who doesn’t love a good look around someone else’s house? 😉 We’ve had a set of “Montessori shelves” in our dining room since my oldest was about 18 months old. The shelves have been through preschool iterations, and back in about February I finally took most of the work off of our shelves, moved the Montessori materials into shelves in my office closet and put all the girls’ craft supplies out for freer access. Like 6 weeks before school closed down due to COVID-19. *Eyeroll*

So, six weeks after I re-organized our house, I re-organized our house to bring out ALL our Montessori materials and other learning items. We got the notice that school was closing on Friday, March 13th. By Monday we had a new set up and started homeschooling. As time went on and the school district began releasing distance learning, we were already in a groove, so we opted out and continued doing our thing.

Since March, I’ve moved things around and done mini-reorganizations a few times. Over the last week I’ve acquired a few more organizing tools (a couple of rolling carts and a set of hardware storage drawers) and I think we are in a pretty good place for a while. Let me show you around…

Our work is all stored in our dining room, which is a good size, but also acts as a hallway connecting the living room and kitchen. We also have a bedroom off of the dining room, so layout-wise it has two long walls and one shorter wall. The kids have a desk each in an alcove on the short wall. They don’t use them much – except for storage. We tend to work on the living room floor.

language/unit study work

On the “hallway” side of the dining room we have one set of drawers, one shelf and our map. We are very loosely being introduced to one country per week. I make a flag with a scrap of paper and a toothpick, we locate the country on the map, watch short YouTube clips of Are We There Yet? (National Geographic) and Geography Now, read a library book about the country and create a travel brochure.

Currently on the shelves are (left to right, top to bottom):
– small pink set of drawers with craft supplies. Not used during school time.
– homemade detective adjective game
– basket of supplies for adjective grammar experiments
– salt tray with homemade cursive glitter paper letters
– antonym matching card game
– 3 part cards and other materials related to our human body systems unit
– Meatball’s work tray (contains her rug, language and maths journals, pencils, etc)
– Cheeseball’s work tray
– homemade moveable alphabet in two boxes

The language drawers to the left of the shelves have some homemade word spinner blocks on top. Cheeseball can read all these words…in print. She is beginning cursive work, so she is practicing reading these (me too – I did not grow up with cursive and have a hard time reading it as well!). We also store our grammar box materials here. I purchased a homeschooler set of grammar box cards from Branch to Bloom, but I decided to sew my own card holders and grammar mats, rather than purchase her storage system or printables. The top drawer stores the related grammar mats. The next drawer stores grammar symbols, a grammar symbol stencil, and sentence strips. The third drawer from the top stores about 6 noun study boxes. Two more drawers store word study work. At this point it’s mostly green series work. Different tasks are stored in different ziploc bags. My (free) word study work comes from The Helpful Garden. The final drawer contains our plastic insets, with homemade inset holders.

On the other side of the room, behind our dining table, are our maths drawers and shelves.

maths materials

We seem to have so many more maths materials, but then these are the materials that drew me to Montessori in the first place. I love them!

On the far left is another rolling cart. Stored on top of the cart are a corkboard, printed geometric stick material, and a tray for transporting golden bead materials. The drawers contain:
– Time work, printed from Every Star is Different
– Hundred Board, also with printed copies for comparing common multiples
– Fraction circles with homemade fraction frames, homemade Montessori protractor, geography kit, paper for making booklets
– Homemade equivalence frames
– Constrictive triangle boxes, printed from Montessori Print Shop
– Various non-Montessori worksheets and workbooks (not pictured). I like to hedge my bets a little and throw in a common core worksheet here and there.

Next up, on top of our Ikea Kallax shelves, I have a set of hardware storage drawers.

hardware drawers

The four boxes on top of the set contain addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division simple equations slips and answer tiles. Two were purchased second hand, and the other two are printed from Montessori Print Shop and stored in iPhone boxes.

In the drawer unit, the larger drawers contain:
– blank paper slips for labeling work
– golden bead operation equation slips
– red, green, blue coloured pencils
– tape measure and thermometers
– green pony beads and 1-inch lengths of black wool
– blue and red pony beads (for general use and/or LCM work)


The top row of smaller drawers contain static command cards for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The second row contain dynamic command cards for the same operations. In the third row, the first drawer contain 10-sided dice in the Montessori colors, the second contain some programming instruction slips. The third and fourth drawers contain command cards with multi-digit multipliers or divisors. The bottom two rows have word cards, each drawer having a different focus or difficulty.

Across the top of the shelving unit, are our short bead chain box, fraction strips, geometric solids, and a file folder holding the small, large, and flat bead frames.

In the shelving unit, the first cubby contains our Golden Bead materials and numeral printed cards. My thousand cubes are from a printable (I think I used this one), and our units, tens and hundred squares are plastic substitute materials. Next two cubbies contain paper storage (operation papers, writer’s workshop papers, letter writing supplies, blank paper, etc). On the bottom row are our printed stamp game, homemade addition and subtraction strip board, snake game, multiplication board and fingercharts, quilted checkerboard with box of beads and home printed grey and white tiles, division board and finger chart, and rack and tubes. The girls each have a cubby on the right hand side for their notebooks, coloring books, treasures…

Phew! Tucked in a corner we have a small shelf holding paint supplies, crayons, pencil crayons, markers, pencils, scissors, glue, hold punch, tape, ruler, etc.

writing and painting utensils

So there you are! We fit a ton of materials into small spaces. In my office closet I store materials that aren’t being used. I haven’t parted with with our DIY spindle boxes, my homemade Seguin boards, etc. The plan is to give you lots of great posts about how to DIY your own. So – let me know…how do you squeeze all your materials into tiny spaces??