Today will be fun. You are going to decorate your room!
Now that you have given some deep thought to the sequence of materials and the optimal layout of your room, it's time to add a layer of decor and style to it. Beauty is a critical part of the Montessori environment. It is one of the first sensory experiences the child has when she walks into the room.
The design of your room is one of those tricky things that can be overdone or underdone, depending on the inclinations of the teacher. Some jump into it with great exuberance and let the decor overpower their room, while others ignore it completely and focus only on functionality, resulting in a stark and unwelcoming space. Where do you fall on this spectrum?
Some people would have you believe that there is only one way to decorate a Montessori space- that it should look warm and earthy and organic. I would challenge that. I would offer that design can be beautiful in many manifestations, and it is important for us to expose children to a variety of aesthetic styles.
When you are thinking about the style of your room, pick something that appeals to your spirit. When you are in a space that you find beautiful, you will be happier and the children will be happier.
Below are some details to consider, regardless of what style you choose:
Look at the room from the vantage point of a young child. What do you see? What do you not see? Is that beautiful piece of art you have placed in the room visible from this level? Move yourself to different parts of the room and examine what you see from this level.
What is the color of your walls, your floors, your carpets? How do these colors look together? Do they provide a pleasing backdrop to your space or are they overpowering? What kind of accent colors can you bring in to the room, for example in your lampshades, cushions, wall hangings, etc.? (White is an appropriate wall color!) Is there harmony in the colors you have chosen or are they visually jarring? Check out this brief article about how color affects behavior.
This one is easy to overdo. Bring pattern in with restraint. I recommend using it mostly for small accent pieces. A popular trend in traditional classrooms these days is to make the room look like a scrapbook, full of bold patterns like chevrons and polka dots. Use that as inspiration but limit it to small, specific areas like labels or cushions.
How is the lighting in your space? Is there plenty of natural light? Do you have harsh overhead lights? Do you need to bring in softer lighting? Table lamps and floor lamps can instantly change the feeling of a room.
Fabrics are great for softening up a space. Where can you use fabric in your room? A soft chair, cushions, curtains, towels? What color and pattern will work with your decor?
Consider having a variety of plants in the room. Not only are they perfect for Practical Life, but they instantly beautify a space. I recommend lots of small plants that can be moved around, some large plants that are stationary, and some hanging plants. Look for a variety of plant and leaf shapes.
Place art on the walls at a level that children will enjoy. Wall art looks good in frames. You can pick up some very inexpensive frames from the thrift store and spruce them up with spray paint. Select art that suits your decor. You can include samples of famous artwork from around the world, photographs, line drawings, children's art, interesting patterns... And fabric wall hangings do not require frames! The options are endless.
It's nice to have a few select pieces carefully placed around the room whose only real purpose is to look beautiful. The children can use these objets de art for polishing, careful handling, oral language development, sensorial work etc.
Can you bring in some special pieces of furniture that enhance the design of your room? An unusual little table or chair can be a lovely focal point in a room full of standard shelves and childcare furniture.
Another very simple thing you can do is use unusual containers, baskets and trays for your materials. Use a variety of materials like fabric, metal, wood. Even carefully selected plastic can look beautiful! Find containers that suit the design of your room.
Above all, how you arrange these elements in your space will be the thing that makes your classroom look beautiful. So pay attention to the spaces between objects. Are they even? Uneven spaces between objects can be very attractive, but they have to be done deliberately. Train your eye to notice the placement of objects. The children are in a sensitive period for noticing these things.
Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of decorating your room because you don't "feel artistic". Keep the following 4 tips in mind and you will be fine:
1. Keep your room clean. Enough said.
2. Keep your room orderly. Stick to your shelf map. Leave even amounts of space between your materials. Have a place for everything and put everything in its place. Get over your clutter habit.
3. Less is more. Be selective about what you bring into the room for decoration. Remember that the design of the room is a subtle backdrop, it should enhance but not overpower the materials or overstimulate the children.
4. Plants! Go ahead and overdo the plants. It's hard to go wrong with plants. Just keep them healthy looking.
1. Beautify your room!
2. Make a commitment to eliminate (or at least minimize) clutter from the visible spaces of the room.
3. Take photos and share them in the Facebook group (optional)