This is the third post in this series. Check out my top 10 items for infants and toddlers, and primary age children (3-6 years) as well.
There's lots of information about creating a Montessori style home for young children, but the waters get a bit murky after age 6.
Do I still need child sized items and a large collections of shelves? What practical life activities do you show a 7 year old? And how I do I get them to clean-up after themselves?
While creating a Montessori style environment in your home is much more than just materials, this is where I suggest you start. These ten items come up again and again in my home projects, and you probably already have some of them in your space.
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Elementary children are focused on learning about social dynamics and their peer group. Having a few cooperative style games available to play encourages positive interactions and helps build interpersonal skills.
Cooking Tools and Recipe Books
Learning the basics of cooking is a necessary life skill, and it's fun! Older children are capable of making simple meals, snacks, and following short recipes with practice, so make sure you have the tools and materials available to them.
Quality Art Supplies
Real art supplies are SO much better than cheap ones, and will inspire quality work as well as careful care. To begin with, offer a set of colored pencils, oil pastels, graphite pencils, water colors, air-dry clay, scissors, glue, and various art papers.
You can find all this at a local art supply store, or a big box craft supply. Get the best quality you can!
Elementary age children are trying to learn EVERYTHING about the world, and to help their independence and reading skills, they need simple research materials. Start with their own library card and the responsibility of borrowing a title from the library.
In your home, I suggest keeping a children's dictionary, encyclopedia, and collection of informative, non-fiction titles. I like the DK eyewitness series myself. You'll also want a few field guides when your child asks "What kind of bug is this?" These pocket guides by Audubon are my favourite.
Writing is another life skill to practice during the elementary years, especially in our digital age of typing and texting. Writing encourages forming complete thoughts, considering your audience, different styles of communication, being imaginative and creative, and an easy way to express your ideas with others.
Loose Parts for Big Play
Hopefully, you already have a collection of open-ended toys that encourage creative play. Older children require loose parts to build their big play ideas, and you can easily use what's in your home already.
Creating or working in a garden is a perfect project for elementary aged children. Read about my experience with a child-designed garden project here. This set of garden tools are perfectly sized for elementary-aged children and really work. Don't worry if you don't have a yard, you can still grow plants in small jars in a window!
To continue the quest of knowledge, elementary children need to have various experiences outside their family unit. This could include groups like scouts, 4-H, church youth programs, sports teams, lessons or classes, day camps, or theater productions. Take a trip to a museum, art gallery, or visit a new city. Or, if you can't travel yourselves, read about far-flung imaginative advtures in books!
About the Author:
Leanne Gray, M.Ed has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained.
She's on a mission to raise a generation of kind, confident, responsible children, and does this through her work with families and schools. Read more here.