How To Plan Your Montessori Shelves Rotation
One of the most time consuming part of being an educator is planning for lessons. In fact, it takes longer for Montessori educators to plan because of the physical materials that need to be updated on the shelves compared to regular classrooms.
Be mindful of what your students need when you are rotating the materials because what you are giving them access to are going to impact on their learning. If the harder materials are presented for them, always be sure that the children are ready to the materials.
To plan your Montessori shelves rotation, check out the tips below:
1. Have a list
Having a list is very important for a smooth lesson rotation. This is where your weekly lesson plan plays its role in identifying the things you are swapping for the week.
💡 Suggestion: Opt for a simple list than a complicated one.
2. Identify materials that are not getting enough attention
When a tray has not been touched for the entire week, that’s a sign that something needs to be done. You can either move the materials around or take them off the shelves to declutter the look of the entire shelf. Sometimes, less is more in this case.
3. Keep your loose materials handy
One thing that spruces up a lesson is the details. Changing the counters for math centers for a similar theme is a great way to make the lesson look different it may attract a different student to work on it more.
For example, for counter cards during the Outer Space theme, swapping the star counters for little rockets will pique the interest of those who are into space exploration.
4. Swap sensory materials
I love to give my students different sensory materials each week. Swapping play dough to shaving cream, or fabric squares to socks.
If you keep sensory bins in the classroom, swapping the content each week gives the opportunity for the children to explore more textures.
5. Change the practical lessons
Practical lessons often focus on fine motor skills. Water-pouring and food-slicing activities are the trays that you can easily rotate to freshen up the shelves. One suggestion is that you can swap the pouring cups or glass. While keeping the activities similar to what has been displayed on the shelf before, you can change the food-slicing to a cheese-grating activity.
7. Update the pictures in the frames
Children do stop and look at the pictures in the frames, especially when it comes to something that they are interested in. Try to keep the pictures that you are planning to use handy when you plan for the month. For example, if your artist of the month is Van Gogh, have several of his works printed out in advance so you can swap them easily each week.
8. Do not overdo your rotation
You can change one corner or one to two shelves at a time but plan to keep it minimal because sometimes students still need to familiarize themselves with the materials.
A number of children do take the extra time to enjoy the lessons on the shelves and they usually repeat one over the others because that is what they are interested in for the time being, and giving them the utmost opportunity to explore the materials is a priority. So, to keep on following the child’s needs is more important than rotating the materials.
BONUS TIPS: Create a Pinterest board (or a physical idea book) that you keep all of the shelves looks that you are planning for each week. It can be time consuming to prepare this at first, however, it will get better as you progress as a seasoned Montessori educator.